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erik schaix

Erik Schaix, Couturier Designer

 

As a fashion and jewels designer, gemstones and art collector, sponsor, events producer and trends initiator, Erik Schaix above all attempts to transmit his vision of beauty and luxury in all its forms.

For him only matters entrepreneurship and going beyond anything could impede creation. He is into everything with talent and insolence without caring about what others may think. When Jean Cocteau was told that he was into everything, he replied: “You would better say that everything touches me!”For Erik Schaix, limits are not acceptable as regards art, he seeks to reach a terra incognita, a land to be discovered day after day, and to be explored following his imagination and his creative desire.

Getting to the bottom of things

 

As a good illustrator, he makes plenty of drawings as soon as he has spare time. He invents dresses, jewels and accessories, and only selects one or two of them for final realization. You only need to see the tailored suits and evening gowns exposed in the showroom at rue Saint-Florentin, as well as the jewelry in the window displays to be convinced of his talent and powerful creativity.

For him, nothing is impossible, nothing is unworkable: each problem can be solved. He has a flair for matching colors and materials and play with pearls, gemstones and shapes, so as to give a genuine identity to his creations. They are recognizable at first glance, whether it is a dress, a jewel or an accessory.

This couturier and designer continues to amaze all those who have put their trust in him for so many years and from the beginning. His honesty and straight-talk without flattery pleases his clients, specially the First Ladies. When they come to Erik, they look for a sincere advice that will make them even more themselves. As Erik Schaix says: “Each person holds a secret. To break the mystery allows me to create a unique dress that highlights her attributes, physical and spiritual as well. It’s up to me to identify this originality so as to make her embody it when she wears the dress”.

It is easy to understand why Erik Schaix is tireless. As he is never satisfied, this creator knows no routine and constantly looks for new challenges to go forward.

He has never wavered in his goals nor taken the easy way. A rule of life he always stuck to, from the early stages until now. Very faithfull in friendship, generous, altruist and selfless, he only owes his success to himself

From the familial perfumery…

 

Born in Paris on 26 April 1959, Erik Schaix lives in Montmartre until the age of 3. This is when her grandmother decides to sell the perfumeries she owned in Paris. His grandparents leave the capital and take young Erik with them in Cannes.

They open two perfumeries; one behind the Hotel Majestic, then another one in its gardens. Later, they settle a perfumery corner in the hotel itself and these three sales points make them omnipresent in this luxury area known as La Croisette.

Erik Schaix is a boarder at the Stanislas Institute of Cannes until bachelor’s degree and he only leaves during the weekends. At the age of 12, he also goes out on Thursday afternoons, which allows him to help his grandparents even more in the various perfumeries which he is particularly fond of and which make him discover the world of luxury.

He is 9 when he becomes concerned with hard stones and shop window displays as he sees the stall keepers sent by the great perfume brands such as Dior, Saint-Laurent, Jean Patou, Nina Ricci and Jean Després. His sense of decoration asserts itself around 12. With the consent of his grandparents who have detected his abilities, he starts decorating the shop windows himself and spends all his spare time there. He “dresses” the windows with fabrics he carefully choses, as he decorated a room, then invents a staging by installing false flasks and packages next to accessories, jewels and leatherwork.

From that moment, Erik Schaix realizes what he wants to do. But it is the movie Donkey Skin starring Catherine Deneuve and Jean Marais that makes him want to become a fashion designer.

When he is 17, after he has completed his studies, he asks his grandparents to take a shop next to one of the perfumeries in order to launch a Maison de Couture. It was an art gallery where he was used to go to every exhibition. It is those gallerists who awoke his interest in art and offered him two paintings, one of which is a Priking he keeps for good luck…

…to the Cannes Hotel Majestic

 

Thanks to the owners of the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, Lucien, Martha Barrière and their daughter Diane, with whom he had been friends from his childhood, Erik could become the tenant of his store.

Lucien Barrière who was a hard working man had a great affection for Erik. And when he crossed the gardens of the Majestic back from the casino around one o’clock in the morning, he would often see him work on “his” front windows: he would glance at his watch and would gesture him to go to bed, angry and amused all at once!

The art gallery lease was transferred to the grandparents by Lucien Barrière under the condition that the young Erik would manage the future store, as he knew his workforce, his courage and his inventiveness. His special relationships with all the clients of the hotel would guarantee the proper functioning of his future shop.

The couture store was therefore launched when he was 17, and six months later, he hired his first head seamstress. It was Irène who became his wife later, and with whom he has shared his life for forty years now.

Since he lived in Cannes, he loved going to the Film Festival or the Midem and met with movie or music stars such as Frank Sinatra, Samy Davis junior, Lisa Minelli, Shirley Basset, Gene Kelly, Joséphine Baker or Cyd Charris with whom he even danced once!

He was thus tempted by singing and his godfather Georges Ulmer gave him the opportunity to start playing the first part of the Virginia Vee show at the Mediterranee Palace, in Nice. Thanks to Betty Ulmer, the wife of Georges who ran the Brummel clubs of Cannes and Deauville, he sang there once in a while during theme parties and was on the front page of the Nice Matin newspaper many times.

The great jump to the capital of fashion

 

However, at the age of 18, he decides to give up everything as he doesn’t get on well with his grandparents anymore, and on an impulse he goes to Paris.

He asks Irène to lend him 1000 francs to buy a train ticket and get a hotel room for a few days. Luckily, he immediately finds a temporary job at the PTT and can live workers foyer for four months until he finds an appartment.

Then he remembered the couturier Harry Algaud who created evening gowns and was a client of the Majestic, and he decided to call him. They had known each other since he was 10 and guessing that Erik would not stay long with his grandparents, Harry had told him: “Im am convinced you will come to Paris! Come see me and I will find a job for you!” Erik Schaix was instantly hired to prepare a ready to wear show.

He stayed three years at Algo, then went to do his military service in 1981 and became the chauffeur of the two aide-de-camp of the President of the Republic François Mitterand. Therefore, one can say they arrived together at the Elysee Palace! At that time he was the record holder for the car accidents on an icy day in Montmartre: 17 damaged cars, 22 accident statements made and his own car totally out of order. He was lectured but kept his position.

When he was on leave he kept on helping Harry Algaud on the different shows where he exhibited. But Erik Schaix had a secret wish: he may have learned the cut of the garment, the sewing pattern and mockup making, he also wanted to draw.

This desire quickly came true, but a few months later, Harry Algaud died. His friend Jean-Marc Colinet, who runs a big communication agency, takes over the business and choses Erik Schaix to head it. He thus manages about 40 people, designs the clothes for the two annual Algo collections and two other collections for Alexis de Fursac, a client of the maison. Three years after, the turnover was multiplied by four

The Place de la Concorde: successful outcome and new insights

 

That is when a friend/banker recommended him to create his own Maison de Couture. At 26, Erik Schaix thus lauches his store at 6 rue Saint-Florentin near the Place de la Concorde, in a large place equipped with a design workshop and a showroom. Always enterprising, he opens a shop in the gardens of the Grand-Hotel of Cannes but it won’t fulfill it’s promises and will close seven years later. Then in 1999, he moves to the Pierre Ier de Serbie avenue where he presents his shows every season and starts a collection for men. But as this overlaps with the head office, he decides to close this place three years later. Next to the 6 rue Saint-Florentin, he opens an art gallery in acknowledgement of the artists who participated in the Sculptures de Tempêtes event at the Palace of Versailles. This exhibition aimed to the resurrection and continuity of the trees that felt during the storm of 1999 and numbered about twenty artists thanks to the sponsorship of Erik Schaix.

In 2005, he opens a second gallery in his town of predilection, Provins. The first one, on the other hand, becomes a jewelry a few years later. Wisely, he will centralize his activities in 2010 in order to present dresses, jewels and leatherwork to his clients in a single place.