Paule Ka celebrates its 30th anniversary with a collection of 30 iconic looks created by its founder, Serge Cajfinger.
This is an unforgettable girl. A girl who defines herself by dotted lines, by her choices, her silences, and her distinctive laugh. She is freed by her look, like a statement that’s taken as a declaration. She is young, or nearly so: she’s thirty. First name: Paule. Last name: Ka. She thinks only of tomorrow, knowing it will be radiant because she decides so, each day, in front of her mirror. She craves every hour of her happy, hectic, and elegant life. She likes to dress for her pleasure and others’ happiness. She often repeats the words of Audrey Hepburn: “Elegance is the only beauty that never fades…”
FROM STUDIO 54 TO CARYATIDES
The 2019 spring-summer collection, designed by its founder and artistic director, Serge Cajfinger, for the 30th anniversary of the fashion house Paule Ka, is an ode to this woman: “inspired by the years when I myself was 30. A hymn to love, sensuality, freedom, and the joy of living. I had a wonderfully good time recreating the festive spirit that reigned at Studio 54 in New York, at the Palace, or at the Bains-Douches in Paris. I added the graphic style I love from Greece, without forgetting the masculine-feminine theme or the little black dress, a must-have for every wardrobe.” The English photographer Charlotte Wales, who transformed this collection into an image, is known for shots both feminine and trendy and that grace the pages of magazines such as Pop, Dazed, and the Parisian and British editions of Vogue. And, to embody this Paule Ka woman and the communicative joy of living is the famous supermodel and Czech actress, Karolina Kurkova.
The anniversary collection is a summary of what has defined the fashion house’s spirit since that day in 1988 when Serge Cajfinger created his own brand of high-end ready-to-wear. He gave it the name of his aunt, Paule, and baptized it Ka in honor of his last name: Cajfinger.
THE YEARS OF GISCARD/NIXON EMMANUELLE
After spending part of his childhood with his family in Brazil, Serge Cajfinger opened a multi-brand boutique in his hometown of Lille. He was 19 years old and it was 1974. Giscard was at the helm, Nixon was on the carpet, and the film Emmanuelle lit up the silver screen. He sold Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Mugler, Montana: everything that was the most on trend at the time. “It was a wonderful school. I was in direct contact with everything from the red carpet to how the clothes were worn every day. My thing was to mix pieces from different designers and to devise original looks.”
PAULE KA IN THE SHADOW OF THE PLACE DES VOSGES
After a brief stint in Brazil, he chose Paris in 1988 to launch his own brand. It was on the rue Malher, in the shadow of the Place des Vosges, in a small space leant to him by an acquaintance: Bernard Zins, the king of the pant.
This first decade was the most difficult:
“I worked night and day. I had to be pragmatic and not give in to the sirens’ song. The red carpet is one thing, but ‘the market’ is another: I had to adapt to the clients’ demands.”
24 HOURS IN THE LIFE OF A WOMAN
He would thus create clothes for the many lives in a woman’s life. Classics that became emblematic of his brand: the little black dress, sometimes in trapeze, sometimes more sensual, but also with opposing propositions to complement better: masculine and feminine; black and white; fluid or structured, because a woman is never quite the same from morning to night. He added details, flutters or knots, that also became a signature to his brand. Thus, the Paule Ka woman was born: distinctive without being dressed; seductive without being enticing; joyous without being superficial; fashionable without being a fashion victim. A tribute to the grace of the 50s and 60s, when Grace Kelly and especially Audrey Hepburn reigned as muses. Paule Ka took off and conquered the fashion world and his clients’ hearts, seduced by the unique combination of Brazil-inspired colours and the elegance of Parisian couture.
THE BASKET OF AUDREY HEPBURN
In 1995, Sean Ferrer, the son of actress Audrey Hepburn, whose unique style remains a constant source of inspiration for Serge Cajfinger, asked to meet him. He wanted to commission a tribute collection to his mother for Japan. He presented a photo of the star in a mink coat and carrying a simple “woven basket” – the exact same as the one Serge Cajfinger’s mother carried in Brazil! He immediately created one for his brand.
While the tribute collection did not come to fruition, the Paule Ka basket became an icon to the fashion house and continues to know myriad incarnations.
In 2007, the brand moved to 223 rue Saint-Honoré: on the ground floor, the boutique; above it, the workshops. At Paule Ka, know-how is artisanal and the choice of fabric, exclusive. Everything from ready-to-wear to the couture spirit.
In 2014, following a decision to modify the company’s governance, Serge Cajfinger left the fashion house for Brazil to pursue personal projects and his passion for architecture and interior design. The young Italian designer, AlithiaSpuir-Zampetti, took over the brand’s creative direction in the spirit of the chic heritage of Parisian elegance.
SEEING PARIS ONCE AGAIN
In 2016, the fashion house returned to the official calendar of Paris fashion week with a tribute presentation to the tremendous know-how of its workshops. The following year, businessman Xavier-Marie, founder and former CEO of Maisons du Monde, assumed control and sought out Serge Cajfinger with a specific and timely mission: help him rediscover the brand’s DNA and prepare its 30th-anniversary collection. Three years after leaving Paule Ka, Serge Cajfinger returned in September of 2017 to supervise the collections in collaboration with the creative teams.
“Paule Ka is obviously a style I know by heart. I wanted to infuse it today with the air of time and fantasy that characterizes it, and always with the customer in mind.”