PARIS, France — Anouck Duranteau-Loeper joined Paco Rabanne as general director of fashion in early 2014, having worked on leather goods at Céline for almost six years. After studying at the ESCP Europe business school in Paris, Duranteau-Loeper worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Company for five years and then moved to LVMH in 2004 to join Pierre-Yves Roussel's team as project manager of strategy and operations for its fashion division.
At LVMH she worked on redefining strategy at Loewe, analysing potential acquisitions and strategic brand plans — paving the way for Phoebe Philo's arrival at Céline, whose accessories division she joined in 2009. Duranteau-Loeper rose to the position of director of leather goods and accessories before her departure for Paco Rabanne.
BoF: Please describe your current role
I am the general manager of Paco Rabanne fashion, a brand owned by Puig since the 1960s. Together with Julien Dossena, our artistic director, we define the vision, the strategy and the roadmap for the brand to grow in fashion. Julien defines the creative part: what Paco Rabanne should be in fashion today. 'Who is that Paco Rabanne woman in 2015? What would she wear?' And, on my side, I lead and manage a team of talented people who bring expertise on everything from development to commercial, from production to communication, to make sure that his ideas and creations for the brand reach the customer, that the press is aware of what we do, that the products are well manufactured and well priced.
BoF: What attracted you to the role?
When Vincent Thilloy and José Manuel Albesa offered the opportunity to participate in re-launching Paco Rabanne in fashion, it immediately attracted me for various reasons.
First, it is an iconic brand and I had in mind all those amazing images of Paco Rabanne with Dali, of Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin or Françoise Hardy wearing Paco Rabanne dresses in the 60s. The brand belongs to Puig (which also owns Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci and Jean Paul Gaultier and which is the fourth largest player in the global perfume market) and it is very strategic for Puig to put Paco Rabanne back on the fashion map — where it deserves to be — so we are being really supported by Vincent and José Manuel who participate in the project and share our strategy.
Second, having the possibility to relaunch a brand of that dimension is unique. Of course you have the chance to build on a strong heritage but also, as the brand has remained silent in fashion for a few years, we really have the possibility to bring back the modernity of Paco Rabanne with new products and new collections.
Third, of course, meeting Julien and [the stylist] Marie-Amélie Sauvé, who are very involved in the project, finally convinced me. We share the same ideas, the same ambition for the brand and we really have fun working together.
Trust your instinct to get things done, because it is still better to fail than not to try.
BoF: What is the most exciting project on initiative you have worked on?
Honestly, ever since I joined, everything has been really exciting. First of all, building the collections and seeing Julien’s visions for the brand translated into images, into a runway show and into products. Then, as we are still in the early stages, we work on dozens of strong initiatives: introducing pre-collections, building a partnership with Barneys, preparing to launch retail with the opening of a store planned for next year, a new website, e-commerce, building the team. Everything we do on a daily basis is a step to building the foundations for the future.
BoF: How is your role changing and what are the driving forces driving this change?
I guess during that first year, everything was about working with Julien to give a vision for the brand, both aesthetically and also strategically. The first step was concerned with defining our product offering: do we create accessories or not? How do we build collections in both ready-to-wear and accessories? What should be our price points? Where do we produce? Where do we want to be distributed?
The first year has been about crystallising all of this and setting the tone. Now that we have a sharper idea, my role will evolve towards the customer: how is our store? How do we talk to the customers? How do we serve them?
BoF: Tell us about a time when you failed and how you learned from it
I don’t have a massive failure in mind that I can share. But I fail every day, and I have successes every day. When you fail, most of the time it is because you hadn’t paid enough attention to one side of things — so I always try to see what I would do from other perspectives. What if I were the customer? What if I were the producer? What if I were the journalist? Trying to understand the driving forces behind all of your colleagues is usually a good way to avoid massive failure. Then, trust your instinct to get things done, because it is still better to fail than not to try — which is difficult to admit, because in this industry we are true perfectionists!
BoF: What advice do you have for people who are interested in what you do?
Enjoy what you do — that is the first thing, because then, you need to work hard, and then even harder. Be curious and never stop learning. Carefully select the people you are working for and those you work with, because you will learn from them — they will push you and make you better. And of course, be nice and respect them. The last thing is, try as much as you can to have a good work-life balance: fashion can be very stressful, and you often need your friends and your family to help you come back to reality!