What makes the difference
Chez Paule Ka, la robe est reine. Et celle que vous portez la journée a pour mission de vous faire sentir élégante, belle et confiante, comme en soirée. Ce miracle quotidien est rendu possible par l'expertise de nos artisans, la créativité de nos stylistes et le choix de tissus de haute qualité, pour un résultat unique.
Celebrities wear Paule Ka
PAULE KA is a French ready-to-wear brand, created in 1987 by Serge Cajfinger.
Born in Lille in 1955, Serge Cajfinger spent his childhood in Brazil. he returned to France in 1968. In 1974, he opened a multi-brand store in Lille known as PAULE KA. Serge Cajfinger later left Lille for Paris to set up a designer label under the same name, opening the first ever PAULE KA store in 1987 in the heart of Paris’ Marais district. Inspired by the grace and elegance of 50’s and 60’s style icons including Jackie Onassis Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace Kelly, he sought to bring a modern twist to their timeless elegance. The brand's style is geometric and sober, sophisticated yet urban, with some lasting characteristics such as black dresses, must-have bags and the use of bows.
In 2007, State-owned fund Caisse des dépôts et consignations invested in PAULE KA. The fashion house set up its headquarters on the rue Saint Honoré in Paris and opened a store in Cannes. 2011 saw the arrival of Change Capital Partners, who were also to invest in PAULE KA, enabling the brand to set itself new growth objectives.
International development ensued 2012 with the opening of stores in China and across Europe as well as a showroom in New York.
In 2014, Following the decision to change the company's governance, Cajfinger left the House he founded after almost 30 years as Chairman and Creative Director to devote himself to new personal projects.
In July 2015, a year after Cajfinger's departure, Alithia Spuri-Zampetti was appointed Creative Director of PAULE KA. The young Italian-American designer had previously worked at Lanvin and channelled her energies into updating the collections while remaining true to the heritage of chic Parisian elegance.
In March 2016, the fashion house once again appeared in Paris Fashion Week's official calendar with a presentation that paid tribute to its ateliers’ savoir-faire.
In July 2017, the company Marco Polo became main shareholder of Maison PAULE KA. Serge Cajfinger takes the lead again to supervise upcoming collections alongside the House's creative team.
Fashion personalities such as Kate Middleton, Amal Clooney, Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway wear PAULE KA.
Looking Through Fresh Eyes: Paule Ka’s new creative director
Alithia Spuri-Zampetti, Paule Ka’s new creative director, talks about her inspirations, designs and hopes for the brand.
The best words to describe Alithia Spuri-Zampetti are enthusiastic, smart, curious, and observant. Since the founder of Paule Ka, Serge Cajfinger, departed in 2015, 32-year-old Spuri-Zampetti took over as creative director. The French fashion house has embodied contemporary Parisian elegance and quirky femininity throughout its time, and Spuri-Zampetti’s elegance, knowledge, traditional yet modern approach, and youthful stance seems to be exactly what the 30-year-old brand needed.
Born in San Diego and raised in Rome, Spuri-Zampetti moved to London to study fashion at Central Saint Martin School of London, where she graduated. She also worked as an intern with designers Gareth Pugh, Peter Jensen, Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen. Later she worked for Bottega Veneta, Valentino and Lanvin, under Alber Elbaz. The Italian-American designer was in charge of Lanvin’s women’s ready-to-wear collection for the past six years. Her journey in design has been a tough one, yet she has learned from the best. She mentioned, ‘I respect the people that gave me a hard time, it is like parenting and now I understand what they meant.’
Now at Paule Ka, the young designer is ready to inject her creative, fresh style with the essence of the famous brand. She is now making up a brand-new lexicon for Paule Ka while reinterpreting the iconic little black dress or the trapeze skirt, with the help of the in-house ateliers. Following a subtle palette of sophisticated shades, she plays every day with the house’s materials and colour codes. Suggesting new volumes out of sensual pleats and off-the-wall details, bold accessories, and couture trompe-l’oeil, she keeps having in mind today’s women, with their desires and their needs. From a perfect pair of trousers to a spectacular evening gown, here is an urban, contemporary, and joyful wardrobe, thoughtfully designed for day and night.
How do you feel about your new position?
It’s very exciting. It was always been my dream to lead a brand and make my own decisions.
Was is easy to connect with the brand?
My experiences have led me here. I think that my style has similarities with all the brands I have worked for, like Valentino, Bottega Veneta, and Lanvin. I developed a taste for luxurious fabrics, femininity, and beautiful design, but I am always thinking of the woman that wears the clothes and not necessarily the costume.
Today, if I had to create my own brand this is what I would do. I would design for real life women that have needs. I’m a girl so I understand and I feel I can make a difference, because I think about a woman and several events she has to go to. Paule Ka has a heritage, a brand history, and it’s something I can work on and develop. The story is not well known, but the brand has been here for 30 years and this is something I can talk about.
The contemporary positioning of Paule Ka interested me too. It’s easy to work in luxury and create beautiful things and not to worry about how much things cost because there are people who will spend money for luxury, but I want to consider the rest of the population. If I didn’t have access to fashion and I was a lawyer, for instance, with a similar salary, where would I buy things to wear for an event, or the office, or for a nice trip? I wouldn’t want to go to Zara for luxury. Paule Ka is a brand that relates to so many women with good taste, and yet it is not very expensive for a designer brand.
How do you describe your style?
My style is driven by two things, women’s needs and my passion for fabrics. I work in Italy with shoe factories in Como that make our textiles. I’m so passionate about textiles. My style is to take something simple and cut it in this amazing fabric, or to work on the construction of a piece that has a very basic fabric.
Paule Ka launched in 1987, how would you describe it then compared to how it is now?
The style was adapted to that time. It was the end of ‘80s and the start of the ‘90s. The style was fresh and feminine, which was perfect for that time. Girls in the ‘80s wore big shoulders and there was woman power, they needed something more romantic and feminine and that is why it worked back then. Celine created a very masculine look and almost changed fashion in the way in which women looked at daywear.
Now, after 30 years, my job is to ask myself what works today. You must be related to your content, but also remember the brand is a feminine brand.
The clients love ruffles, bows, pinks and little day suits, and you can’t kill this just because the trend is something else. My job is to spot a trend and see what fashion is for women today, then propose something that is within the code of the brand. Germans love masculine silhouettes and this suits their body shape and their lifestyle, they don’t like bright colours. In places like the Middle East, America, China and Japan, there’s such a big opportunity for fresh colours. I think Paule Ka is really modern because it serves all these women.
Who do you think the typical customer is now?
I think in this moment, it is a transition and it’s hard to define who our client is. We have our loyal Paule Ka clients. For these clients, they relate to a modern and fresh style with new fabrics and new ideas. We have a huge opportunity for new clients and new markets. Before, the client was fifty per cent French. Today we have an amazing response in Asia, America and the Middle East. The client is younger. In Instagram, we have such a young following and we have young actresses wearing the brand, but it is definitely evolving, although we don’t want to lose our old clients either.
At Paule Ka we offer a wardrobe for all women with different needs. We have a beautiful white blouse and black trousers that don’t age and are classic pieces. Then there is a dress for a cocktail party that is chic but not overly dressy. At the same time, you have a gown that is perfect for a formal event. I want to build a woman friendly community.
How import is this region for your brand if that is your target client?
What I am discovering is Middle East clients are very open to novelty. Paule Ka is a colourful French brand so it’s perfect for a market that appreciates colour, embellishment, and couture savoir-faire. They also appreciate a brand that has French heritage.
Tell us about the new spring summer collection?
The inspiration was Japan. I went to Japan which is the first country that supported Paule Ka at the beginning. I researched the things I like the most, textiles, architecture, purity of Japan and colour blocking. I take the audience through my journey with Japan. We start with tailoring that is clean and sculptural, the judo influence with wrapping and the fact that it is white, constructed and pure, we also look at pleating, the obi and origami pleats which are about construction and one solid colour. Then this is developed into stripes, an obi with stripes that I found in a vintage market. I thought we should make it sexy so we started darting, inserted bows into the stripes which made it feminine, with a modern twist. Then there is the kimono, I took some flowers from the kimono and started to weave them into our daywear pieces and as a result there are jeans and a jacket with woven gold leaves, creating a brocade feeling.
What is your favourite piece?
My favourite piece is always the first one in the lookbook. It’s this tailored piece that is masculine but attractive to women because we have turned it into something feminine without putting bows on it.
How long did it take to make the collection?
Two months from the conception, fabric selection and sketches to several fittings with the atelier. Then we prepare for the show. We also work on other collections during this time.
What are your hopes for the next few years?
We are growing. At this moment, we are still at the investment part. We create a lot of collections and commercial garments, which is less fun to do but not a problem. We are building slowly. If you compare it to a building, we are only building the foundation. In five years, I’d like to see the building complete with a swimming pool!
Do you have a motto?
Alber Elbaz once told me, ‘When you are a creative director remember one thing, let it go.’ This is what I try to stick to, but sometimes it’s so hard to let go. We are very attached to what we do and we never let go.
By Hershey Pascual
PAULE KA publicity campaigns