The brand, founded in 1946 by Louis Réard, the inventor of the bikini, is being revived under the creative direction of Céline Adler, who previously worked at French lingerie brands Princesse Tam Tam and Huit.
Monaco-based entrepreneur Richard Emanuel, chairman of Réard, acquired the intellectual property assets of the brand a few years ago.
At the presentation, staged in Coco Chanel’s former apartment on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, models played on ping-pong and foosball tables wearing items from the inaugural line. The collection ranged from a bikini in a newsprint fabric to chic black one-pieces with gold hardware details.
Adler said for her first collection, she wanted to focus on timeless designs with a strong performance element. Réard was originally an automobile engineer, and the brand’s products this season feature materials used by firefighters, as well as metal painting techniques borrowed from the car industry.
“It’s important for us to focus on a single, strong message for the first year or two. We’ll open it up progressively to more seasonal products that mirror more closely the trends in ready-to-wear,” said the creative director. For fall, she will introduce bow details and a print inspired by U.S. painter Robert Motherwell.
Adler said among the line’s unique selling propositions are the logo lining on its suits, metal-only finishings engraved with the Réard name and bra tops that come in a variety of sizes, which can be bought separately from the bottoms for a better fit.
Prices range from 200 euros, or $225, for a seamless Itsy Tiny Bikini, to 650 euros, or $725, for a black Catherine swimsuit with a removable gold breastplate. The line also includes silk caftans and a silk beach dress, straw sun hats and an oversized turquoise beach towel.
The brand is trying to limit its environmental impact through in-house recycling activities and financial support for The Sea Cleaners, an organization dedicated to fighting oceanic pollution by collecting plastic waste. Adler says she hopes the waste can eventually be recycled into fibers used for swimwear.
The spring collection will be sold exclusively at Colette and via the brand’s web site, reard.com. Réard hopes to open pop-up stores in Paris and Cannes this summer, and will have a temporary presence in the Caribbean in November. A permanent store in Paris is expected to follow next year.
“It’s a brand with a 70-year history and heritage, being the brand that created and invented the bikini, but from a business perspective we are just relaunching the brand today, so you almost have like a start-up mentality,” said Emanuel.
“I think when you’re in that phase of a business, the direct relationship with your customer or potential customers is fairly fundamental, because you really want to listen,” he added. “What the e-commerce platform enables us or any other business [to do] is have that direct relationship, direct interaction with your customer that you don’t have through wholesale or through other distribution channels.”
By Joelle Diderich