Three questions for... Alexandra Pisco, Director of Maisons de Mode in Lille and Roubaix

Director of Maisons de Mode in Lille and Roubaix, she helps fashion entrepreneurs to develop their businesses through a number of schemes. She also organises the popular 48h Maisons de Mode, a catwalk show and series of events aimed at the general public.

What is Maisons de Mode?

Maisons de Mode in Lille and Roubaix has several remits. Its primary aim is to act as a business incubator for clothing and accessories designers. A committee evaluates the start-up ideas of young designers who already have industry experience and want to launch their label. Those selected can join an ‘incubator’ programme over a period of two to four years. Our goal is to give them all the tools they need to develop their businesses. Our approach is pragmatic: by the time they leave, the business has to be viable, with an increasing turnover and growing number of points of sale. We’ve also partnered with an urban regeneration project. We provide refurbished stores in atypical districts of Roubaix in order to revitalise these areas. To attract customers, we also organise events. This commitment to promoting emerging businesses is also perfectly illustrated by our 48h Maisons de Mode.

Tell us about this event.

We launched the shows in September 2009. The city of Lille, which had just renovated its Gare Saint Sauveur, invited us to put on an event there. We responded immediately by creating 48h Maisons de Mode. The event opens on the Friday with a catwalk show for the general public featuring our designers. Only pieces already available in stores are shown, so that the audience can then go and buy them. The evening ends with a party. At the weekend, there are pop-up boutiques of designers featured in the catwalk show, along with guests. We also offer free customisation workshops for small and medium businesses. Finally, on Sunday, to conclude the event, we hold the Glam Run, a stiletto heels race, to demonstrate that fashion shouldn’t be taken too seriously!

What are the tangible benefits for designers?

We offer them a complete range of promotional tools and a terrific catwalk show with an audience of 1,200 people, which has a positive impact on brand awareness and sales. This is designed to rapidly increase their turnover.

For more information: http://www.maisonsdemode.com/