Luxury in Crisis
Who are you?
Alithia Spuri Zampetti, Creative Director at Paule Ka.
What do you do?
I create women’s clothes (and accessories!)
Paule Ka is known for Parisian ‘affordable’ luxury, do you think that this kind of luxury is the future?
Yes I do. Clients today are very well educated, they no longer believe there is value in over-expensive products justified by a logo or by a promise of uniqueness. Prêt-à -porter today is mass produced, and the concept of uniqueness and ‘luxury’ is in crisis. The result is that the client no longer wants to spend more for less.
Would you want to introduce a more couture-like line in the near future?
I think some of the pieces in our Show Collections already have an element of “couture”. In the last Spring Summer Collection for example there are hand-made and hand-dyed pieces, several embroidered jacquards and pleated striped dresses with quite complex constructions that can take days to make and require great precision.
As creative director, what one thing would you never change about Paule Ka, and what ‘Alithia Spuri Zampetti’ aesthetic would you add to this brand?
The price point is the strength of the brand. Being able to buy a spectacular gown, developed by artisans in Paris and cut in beautiful Italian fabrics is not something that many houses can achieve at a reasonable price. The teams at Paule Ka built this relationship between quality and price over many years making this brand truly unique. It would be foolish to alter this balance.
The aesthetics I am bringing are ease, fluidity, an extensive development of fabrics and more focus on construction rather than on decoration.
From Valentino and Bottega Veneta to head designer at Lanvin…. Why Paule Ka? And why now?
In the last decade many prêt-à-porter brands have been lowering their quality standard, cutting corners in production and accepting less noble ‘made in’ labels while high street has heightened its desirability being able to afford expensive materials, casting top models and luxury consultants to manage their campaigns and deliver the product to clients earlier. The result is that the gap between high fashion and what today we call ‘contemporary’ fashion has shrunk, creating new possibilities for brands like Paule Ka that positioned between luxury and contemporary. This is where fashion is going right now so I think it’s the perfect time for me to explore this world that is new to me.
At a time when fashion powers are always shifting and the game of musical chairs is on full swing… How are you so sure that this partnership is ideal?
It’s true that the speed at which designers move around fashion houses is disconcerting. Only time will tell if it was the right choice.
How would you define fashion?
An addictive drug, particularly irresistible to creative people who enjoy expressing themselves through clothing.
You obviously travel a lot… If you had the choice to live in one country for the rest of your days, which one would you choose and why?
I would live in London because I love the diversity of people, the culture, the energy, the multitude of choice in entertainment and the concentration of international talent.
What morning routines are religious for you?
Coffee and emails.
If you could dine & wine with anyone, whom would you choose?
Mr. St Laurent.
What are the five things you could never live without?
Google, Hairdryer, Steamer, Sunscreen, Cappuccino.
If you could be any cartoon character, which one would you choose?
What are you currently reading?
I am reading ‘The open organization’ by Jim Whitehurst .
What book is a staple on your nightstand?
‘When luxury lost luster’ by Dana Thomas
What do you do to keep your eyes ‘fresh’?
I look elsewhere than fashion for inspiration
What is currently on your moodboard?
Erwin Blumenfeld’s Parisian series for Vogue (1939), a landscape from Michael Kenna, an artwork named ‘Specchio’ by Enrico Baj, fabrics, pictures of work in progress.
What’s the best advice you’ve received that has kept you going and growing?
‘When is not worth it, let it go’
How can we follow you?
You can follow me on @paulekaofficial, our Instagram account which also reflects the diary of my journey at Paule Ka.W