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New collab Lacoste + Malandrino departs from Lacoste’s typical polo

In what will be a four-season collaboration, Lacoste and Catherine Malandrino have released their Spring line of Lacoste + Malandrino—harem pants, slinky knit dresses, wide-leg pants and mini-pleated skirts—in a huge departure from the brand’s usual polo.

“My most important role with Lacoste is to open the door to the feminine world,” Catherine Malandrino said to WWD. “Now I am relaying effortless, chic, everyday clothes that you don’t have to think about. All of the silhouettes can be eye-catching, whether it is a miniskirt or high-waisted pants.”

Considering her designer standing and French background, Malandrino seemed a very appropriate choice for a collab with Lacoste, but even Steve Birkhold, chief executive officer of Lacoste Devanlay USA Inc., was amazed by her zeal and fit.

“As we got deeper into the collaboration, Catherine’s passion for the brand, which she showed not only verbally but also creatively, reminded us that we had made the right choice,” Birkhold told WWD.

All those fans of Lacoste’s crocodile logo will be pleased to know it is still there – with a twist. Lacoste + Malandrino pieces boast two kissing crocodiles, one yellow and one green. Bearing in mind the croc had served as the logo for 80 years, this was, according to Birkhold, a big deal to flip the creature.

The logo originated from a bet between two French tennis players in 1925. While strolling down a Boston street, René Lacoste spied a crocodile suitcase in a storefront. He turned to his companion, team captain Pierre Gillou, and insisted should he Lacoste win, Gillou would buy the suitcase for him.

Well, as it turns out, his team lost. But Lacoste’s friend Robert George wound up creating a crocodile with its jaw snapped open, which Lacoste began to sport on his blazer.

“People immediately know it’s Lacoste, and they have a lot of questions about it,” Malandrino said of the logo to WWD. “Someone said it is the best symbol for a French kiss. It brings questions of emotion and sensuality, and that’s what I wanted to bring to Lacoste.”

Hopes of profits on the line are not too high; Birkhold is, instead, expecting the collaboration to be a draw.

“Our five-button stretch pique polo was a $100 million business by itself. But the days of one item generating that kind of volume are gone for now,” he said. “We don’t really look at this as a volume opportunity. These things generally don’t rely on commercialization. We look at it as creating new interest in the overall brand.”

Selling in 43 of Lacoste’s 70 full-priced stores, in Malandrino’s 11 stores and online, the Spring and Fall collections, 12 pieces each, will retail for around $145 to $750.

“Catherine is an amazing designer. She has really opened our eyes to what Lacoste can represent for the fashion consumer. I think a lot of people will be surprised,” Birkhold said. “To succeed is really just changing people’s perception that a polo is all we design.”

Check out all the goods at www.lacoste.com/malandrino.

Tagged in: fashion, spring, collection, collaboration, 2011, line, lacoste, catherine malandrino, lacoste + malandrino,

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Purple Neon/LadyLUX via WWD

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