Eric Bompard: Carolyn Randolfi freshens up the marque
What a difference a fresh creative director makes. One prime example is Carolyn Randolfi, who has bravely freshened up Eric Bompard, a venerable French marque that had grown rather dusty.
Established in 1984 by French computer technician and global traveler Eric Bompard, the marque had long been admired for its super fine and reasonably priced cashmere, culled from Mongolia. But in the twenty-tens it had grown long in the tooth and predictable.
But in 2018, the brand was acquired by an investor trio led by Xavier Marie, the French entrepreneur who created home décor specialist Maisons du Monde, with Apax Partners and BPI France. Placing Eric Bompard in a group known as Compagnie Marco Polo that includes Paule Ka, Bonton, Le Petit Souk and Rautureau.
Appointed four seasons ago, the highly experienced Randolfi immediately set to work installing some modernist luxury.
Last season, she guided the house to introduce a new collection of accessories called Made in France – initially headbands and ribbed balaclavas. This season, Made in France has added some great new knits, all produced in Roanne, the beating heart of French knitwear. Seen in seamless single pieces of funnel neck sweaters or neat men’s jumpers and made on what the French call une machine intégral.
“They are best sellers because they are authentically gritty, and they have soul,” beams Randolfi in a presentation in a 8th arrondissement apartment.
At Randolfi’s suggestion, Eric Bompard has also branched out into a new series of wide legged androgyn jeans to go with the house’s great knits. “Like most women I like my jeans cool and comfortable,” stressed Randolfi.
There is also fresh emphasis on menswear - with great mono-color varsity jackets and fully deconstructed blazers with slim lapels. Quiet luxury that whispers quality. Also apparent, a varied slew of marinières - sailors sweaters with horizontal stripes that are quintessentially French.
Compagnie Marco Polo does not release the house’s financials, but with some 70 stores of its own Eric Bompard has an estimated annual turnover of around €70 million, as it exits the long pandemic.
Though the most impressive element in the new Eric Bompard look is the understated detailing – like the suede matching patch pockets with zips on midnight blue sweaters, or gros grain ribbon hidden as interior trim inside snug cardigans.
For après ski, Randolfi showed slimline cashmere tops and track pants with athletic piping and side stripes, “for the next time you go to Courchevel or Val d’Isère, and want to really relax, this is what you need.”
In an impressive career, Randolfi has held senior knitwear posts at Ralph Lauren, Prada and Kenzo, as well as designing knits for the likes of Y/Project, Alexandre Vauthier and Dundas.
Leading to another new element at Eric Bompard - the color scheme, where Randolfi has developed lightly mottled sunset flamingo pinks, artic blues and soft limes.
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