Through her first collection, the designer gives us a vision of a liberated and assumed femininity. Laura is fascinated by the rebellious, provocative and refined spirit of the Grandes Horizontales, muses by day and courtesans at night-time fêtes.
From the Second Empire to the Belle Epoque, these “Lionesses” became the new queens of Paris epitomising the excesses of the period. They came from the working class but did not recoil when faced with the unbridled quest for power, wealth and domination. Laura sees them as the first “it-girl”.
She admires and respects all those women who contributed to freedom of expression including Liane de Pougy, the indomitable androgynous courtesan of the nineteenth century, Madonna who arrived in New York with $35 in her pocket in 1978, and Grace Jones, radiant muse of Jean-Paul Goude.
The wildest fêtes were held during the reign of Napoleon III. Fête Impériale enjoys acting as a bridge between the great Napoleonic balls of the Second Empire and the wild Parisian parties of the 80s at the Palace or Bains Douches. The designer has a special affection for these important meetings places of artists and intellectuals. Already in the nineteenth century Bains Douches was attracting many opinion leaders and a homosexual movement in which Marcel Proust was involved.
Fascinated by the open and uninhibited spirit of the nineteenth century in Paris, as well as the decadence of the wild nights of the 80s Laura Gauthier Petit decided to inject some liveliness and freshness into Parisian fashion.
In the summer of 2015, she confidently launched Fête Impériale then announced it conspicuously on the walls of the capital. Her creative genius is nourished by the cultural richness of the Second Empire and its baroque architecture which she reproduces with accuracy and makes accessible to everyone. Mixing the erotic and aesthetic references from the Belle Epoque with the insurrectionary casualness of the punk movement of the 80s, Fête Impériale breaks traditional rules and plays with contrasts. Laura is inspired by great women who started from nothing and worked single-handedly to make a name for themselves.
The clothes are fluid and the cut is androgynous.
Each print is unique and has been conceived, designed, and created by an artist. Perfecto leather, thick cotton dresses inspired by nineteenth century upholstery, fabulous tube skirts, and trench bathrobes: Fête Impériale is characterized by an anti-academic style with hidden symbols.
Meeting between Liane de Pougy, the notorious Parisian courtesan, and Debbie Harry, iconic pioneer of the pop punk scene of the late 70s.
The designer sees her brand as a creative group of friends. For her publications or in collaborations for her L’Imperialist magazine, she uses artists that she likes because of what they do and because of who they are. Free to make her own choices, she professes: “Do what you love with people you like”.
Toile de Jouy print shirts can be worn open over a T-shirt, or closed with denim shorts. The pieces are multifunctional and suited to today’s liberated and discerning independent woman. The collections are the product of meticulous attention to detail, high-quality materials and impeccable craftsmanship.
These androgynous garments reflect the audacity of Liane de Pougy who introduced sexual ambiguity by wearing pearls with a man’s suit. Laura revisits the iconic Toile de Jouy print, giving a subtle nod to the common sapphic practices of the period.