Ten years with the left


March 20, 2023 · Marie-Christine Statz is German and has realized what is a big dream for many young people: In 2013 she founded her own fashion label – Gauchere. In Paris. How to get there?

Netflix producers of "Emily in Paris" could not have made this fashion backdrop more Parisian: Rue de Rivoli, number 188, third floor. The rooms, which are located behind the white front door, are dignified. The wall cassettes reach generously far upwards. On the ceiling the stucco, on the floor the herringbone parquet. In between, a whole fashion collection hangs on clothes rails. Lots of black, flowing dresses and sturdy blazers. In between, a well-dosed amount of sequins. Looking at the pieces on the hanger, it is clear that this is fashion that cool Parisians would wear in the world of "Emily in Paris" and not plastic Parisians from America. So Sylvie and not Emily. The people on this Monday could also replace extras. It's sales season in Paris. The dealers are there to order their goods. There are French sentences, Italian, English.

"Marie-Christine is not here yet." This is what one of the employees on the third floor says as a welcome. Oversized blazer, striking glasses. She offers tea, black or green. With "Emily in Paris" something funny or embarrassing would have to happen.

Net-a-porter is a big customer, even stores in Ukraine order Gauchere. Only one country is conspicuous by its absence: Germany. Why?

"That was a dream of mine, and it showed me that it could be worthwhile to tackle a second collection."


In reality, Marie-Christine Statz comes in at the door at twelve o'clock sharp. Black bomber jacket, black pants, black blazer to lace at the waist, white sneakers. She smiles. "My office is now also a presentation room," she says and leads us into the next room, where there are even more clothes rails. Marie-Christine Statz is German. And what it did in 2013 is still likely to correspond to the dream of thousands of young people. She founded a fashion label in Paris under the name Gauchere, and now, ten years later, she is based here. At 188 rue de Rivoli, cornerstones of fashion history were practically in the neighbourhood. Coco Chanel started in 1910 on a side street, Rue Cambon. Thierry Hermès' son, Charles-Émile, moved with Hermès to 1880 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 24 and stayed. Jeanne Lanvin opened in 1889 on Rue Boissy d'Anglas. From the third floor at 188 rue de Rivoli, you could also stretch a rope to the opposite building, a side wing of the Louvre, and arrive at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, where large fashion exhibitions are regularly held.

How do you get here, to the first district, with your own label? Right in the middle? Perhaps via Rue de Turenne, in the Marais district. Marie-Christine Statz and Gauchere showed their collection there for the first time ten years ago. Some buyers were already there at that time, on the day at the end of February 2013. There were also fashion editors, among them many Germans who were curious. Statz showed her debut collection several times in succession – whenever guests were there. "At that moment I was incredibly excited. But that changed during the day, and after a while I noticed how it went." The Parisian luxury department store Le Bon Marché had already ordered the first collection at this time. "That was a dream of mine, and it showed me that it could be worthwhile to tackle a second collection."

That's how it started with Gauchere. For Marie-Christine Stätz, of course, it started earlier, and for me too, this first Gauchere presentation in February 2013 was a reunion. I had written about Marie-Christine Statz before, in 2008, when I was allowed to fly to New York with a group of fellow students from London, where I was studying at the time, for a joint project between my university and the Parsons School of Design. Marie-Christine Statz was in her graduating class and presented her collection on a stage in front of buyers from Saks Fifth Avenue, designers from New York houses and real fashion journalists. I, the fashion journalism student, remembered one sentence in particular that she said about a different colored lining: "This is just for yourself." So only for the wearer. Every time I saw a similar food somewhere in the following years, I had to think of her words.

"This is just for yourself."


Marie-Christine Statz was already making fashion back then, which should first of all give its owner a good feeling. Of course, it has evolved, in 15 years. But the sentence about her fictitious client, which she told me about her as a student for the portrait, still fits well with what she is working on today: "She likes fashion with a discreet elegance." That's how it has remained. With Gauchere, she really serves that clientele. Or as Marie-Christine Statz puts it in her own premises on Rue de Rivoli: "Women tell me that they don't like this logo everywhere. That they're in a certain position where they don't want to feel dressed up and just want to wear something great."

"It was never my vision to put myself insanely in the foreground," says the designer in her studio in Paris. "It was never: I, Marie-Christine Statz, make fashion."

The fashion of the past ten years often looks exactly the opposite: colorful and a bit banal. "Fashion has already changed with the explosion of Instagram," says Statz. The cut is lost on the small screen anyway. Pieces such as merchandising articles with large logos or simple trademarks are correspondingly more successful, at least entertaining. Gauchere does it differently and perhaps stays on the market not only for two or three seasons, but for ten years. "It was never my vision to put myself madly in the foreground," she says. "It was never: I, Marie-Christine Statz, make fashion. I'm interested in what clothes can mean for a lifetime. How you feel in it. For me, it's not a fast-paced thing."

Statz has experience: "It is very difficult to launch a product that is explained solely by the cut."

The road is all the harder. Statz has experience: "It is very difficult to launch a product that is explained solely by the cut." Although it is already so: The more expensive the product, the less logo. "But these houses usually have a whole product group on the side that pushes the logo." Bottega Veneta for example, Jil Sander, Celine, as it used to be. Even smaller brands like Khaite and The Row would find it difficult to get by alone with nude tops half on the shoulder and flared black pants. "One helps the other." So get started with accessories? In addition to Gauchere's distinctive blazers, the dynamically cut tops? To the dresses with cut-outs that make their owner look so strong? It's not that simple, says the designer. "We're doing this at the moment exclusively for the show, to present the look. In order to produce accessories at the level of clothing, we would need a strategic partner."

She turned 40 last year. Marie-Christine Statz has been living abroad since she was 20 years old and has spent half her life outside of Germany. She also never studied fashion design in Germany. And yet there are intersections between their attitude towards fashion and what can most likely be German style: a certain minimalism, thoughtful designs, fashion that is not superfluously excessive, of which no one can ultimately say that it is superficial. Perhaps this raison d'être is needed in a country where fashion still does not enjoy the best reputation in terms of style, despite all the development work. In which women and men flirt with not knowing anything about fashion, and clichés obviously do not want to be overcome.

Marie-Christine Statz grew up with fashion, even in Mönchengladbach. Her mother worked for Iris von Arnim. Even then, the child liked to draw knitted sweaters. As a teenager, she took her first jobs at the fair for the French leather brand Sylvie Schimmel. "I greeted the guests at the entrance, but because I knew French, it went relatively quickly," says Statz. Translate here and explain something, help there in the showroom. "I was spindly, and then it was quickly said: Zack, put on the jacket."

"There you have this 'You can do anything', and I just wanted to do it. I don't know if I thought at that moment that it could be forever."


After graduating from high school, Marie-Christine Statz studied economics in Bonn. After her intermediate diploma, however, she decided to study fashion design and was accepted at the Parsons School of Design in New York. After graduation, she worked with Narciso Rodriguez and Diane von Fürstenberg. "Then I wanted to go back to Europe." She knew France from a year abroad in Toulouse as a student. Paris fascinated her. "But at first, of course, not a word of French came out." Statz continued her undergraduate studies in fashion design in New York with a master's degree at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Nevertheless, she brought something urgent with her from New York: the desire for her own label. "They have this 'you can do anything', and I just wanted to do it," she says. "I don't know if I thought at that moment that it could be forever."

Instead of naming her label after herself, she had something more original ready: Gauchère – the left-hander. Her nickname as a student. "When you're left-handed, you can feel that in fashion. When you stake, everything is the other way around. The iron is on the right," she says. Her counterpart often replied: "Oh yes, the left-hander." She later got rid of the accent grave. "Half of American customers put it, the other half didn't. So it was clearer."

At the beginning, Marie-Christine Statz was looking for someone with experience in sales. She even shared an office with him after the first time she worked in the apartment. Her moving experiences with Gauchere in the following years are reminiscent of what people experience in private. They find partners, have a child, then another, the children get bigger, and in this way every next apartment becomes too small at some point. Gauchere also grew, more employees were added and thus more work.

Because Paris is one of the places with the highest rents in the world, Statz calculated for her studio from step to step correspondingly tight. From the gallery in the Marais we went to the premises where one of its producers worked. From there to a private studio on the fourth floor without elevator on the Place de la République. "I noticed relatively quickly that it wasn't so great. All the rolls of fabric!" The next step was much bigger. "At first, I didn't even look at the first arrondissement," she says. "That happened by chance." 240 square meters. A chic address. In retrospect, it was also a stroke of luck because since then many designers have followed suit and the district has become correspondingly more popular. "Since you can no longer transport things so easily in the city by car, everything has centralized." In 2017, however, the risk was great: "I had doubts and did not know whether I should do this and whether I was up to this responsibility." The lease runs for at least three years. Statz says she calculated: "A large part of the budget is reserved for presenting the collections in beautiful places." The house number 188 on the Rue de Rivoli was handsome enough to invite the guests from then on – and to save costs elsewhere.

"At the beginning, you often had to say: I want, I want, I want, in order to be heard in any case."


She is the founder of her company alone, says Statz. Nevertheless, she speaks of a family business. There is her mother who advises her. There is also her stepfather, who knows his way around companies. The questions at stake are, for example: "What are the strategies? What are the numbers? What about the cash flow plan for the year? I have a lot of support for that." She remains chief designer and operational manager. During this time, Paris has become more open to young designers. "At the beginning, you often had to say: I want, I want, I want, in order to be heard in any case." It is now on the official show schedule for Fashion Week. That means a lot here.

"Ciao, come va?" it now sounds from the right. Marie-Christine Statz jumps up. Antonia Giacinti, owner of the Milanese boutique "Antonia", stands in front of her. A quick hello. "A shop like this is important and a showcase for us," says the designer as she sits down again. Net-a-porter is her biggest customer, and her pieces hang in a good dozen stores in Asia, North America and Europe. However, it is also noticeable in the dealer list: There is no one from Germany. Of all things. "I always invite German buyers," says Statz. "But no one comes. That's a shame." She pauses. "But that may still have to develop."

The house number 188 on the Rue de Rivoli was handsome enough to invite the guests from then on.

The second surprise with regard to the list of dealers: Three stores from Ukraine are among them, from Odessa, Lviv, Mykolaiv. For a year now, it has been about the horror of war, perhaps also about hope and perseverance, but not about luxury fashion. "And these requests only came last season," says the designer. "I was amazed too. The buyers are now in Italy. Of course, I also asked them questions." Her feedback on why luxury fashion from Gauchere is now part of the assortment in some stores in Ukraine: "They said we don't know what tomorrow will be, and that's why we want to live today." It doesn't have to be a one-time purchase. "They all have appointments for the next few days."

"Department stores are closing all over the world. In Paris, new ones are being opened or renovated."


It does not mean that this is just a walk in the park, with its own label in times of price increase: inflation, energy costs are an issue. The company, which produces mainly in Italy and Portugal in addition to France, is affected by this in many respects. "These crises do not have a similar impact in all countries," says Statz. "First of all, you have to understand which states absorb and subsidize what." A location that used to be interesting for production can suddenly be far too expensive. "It hits you in a way like a tsunami wave. Larger brands with their own production facilities were able to calculate differently." The price increase last year can also be explained by this. With Gauchere, they have to calculate: "Fabric prices are rising enormously, and you don't know exactly who taps which margin where. But the fact is: it is passed on to the designers. I, on the other hand, can't pass this on 100 percent to my customers." And she also says this: "To find a balance in this respect, after the two corona years, that's partly not funny."

Because actually, Paris is back. The city is full again. The Asians and Americans are back. The PR machine is running, season three of "Emily in Paris" spreads a cheerfulness that washes even more tourists into the city. And the big fashion companies are also participating: "Department stores are closing all over the world," says Marie-Christine Statz. "In Paris, new ones are being opened or renovated." Namely Printemps and Samaritaine. The magic of Paris, one can interpret it, judging by what Qatar Holding (Printemps) and LVMH (Samaritaine) spend on it, radiates all over the world. And by investing in Paris, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault is indirectly strengthening his brands that have long embodied the spirit of France, whether in Singapore or Abu Dhabi. Paris, a celebration of life. Marie-Christine Statz makes the most of it here.

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