“You’re only good at what you really love. So be true to yourself. Be daring and keep an open mind”.
In 1988 when Maria Luisa Poumalliou opened her first store on 2 rue Cambon with her husband and business partner Daniel Poumaillou she had sharp instinct and a legendary commitment to the fashion industry. Her vision and her taste influenced the future of fashion and helped the careers of some of the world’s most impressive fashion designers; from Alexander McQueen, Helmut Lang, Hussein Chalayan, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Martin Margiela, Nicolas Ghesquière and Rick Owens to Vivienne Westwood.
Poumaillou was instrumental in fostering talent and her shop became a free and bold showcase for emerging talent and an endorsement for any designer wishing to break into the global industry. The relentless vision with which she inspired and shaped the industry and the endless support which she provided designers (that today we recognise, love and enjoy) has given the name Maria Luisa its trademark – one that can be found at Printemps, at her boutiques and concessions across Asia, the Middle East and online. It is unreservedly a signature that celebrates the cutting edge, the new and the talented.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends, especially her husband Daniel and colleague Robin Schulié. She is both an icon and a legend and will be sorely missed by anyone and everyone who had the privilege to know her and know her work. The fashion industry mourns a hero, however her legacy in the UK will live on in the roll call of some of its most important designers who she launched and supported including Anya Hindmarch, Charlotte Olympia, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Fleet Ilya, Heikki Salonen, Husam El Odeh, J.W Anderson, Jens Laugesen, Jonathan Saunders, Kim Jones, KTZ, Lee Roach, Linda Farrow, Louise Gray, Manolo Blahnik, Marios Schwab, Marques’ Almeida, Mary Katrantzou, Meadham Kirchhoff, Nicholas Kirkwood, Peter Pilotto , Philip Treacy, Roland Mouret, Sibling, Simone Rocha, Sophia Webster, Todd Lynn and Victoria Beckham to name but a few.
Sarah Mower, Ambassador for Emerging Talent writes: "London owes a vast debt of gratitude to Maria Luisa Poumalliou. The elegant and inspiring Parisian retailer who became such an inspiring supporter to so many young designers passed away yesterday, leaving the British fashion community feeling bereft of a very great friend. With her dark hair, deep brown eyes, red lipstick and immaculately chic style, Maria Luisa's presence at shows in London fashion week was an honour - the very fact that she was with us, dedicated to discovering new talent, in whatever circumstances, always felt like the greatest endorsement of the British fashion community's hopes and creative aspirations.
I personally always looked around to check what Maria Luisa was thinking after a show - whether she was buzzing with excitement, or rolling her eyes in exasperation, her reactions were always laser-sharp, accurate, witty and invaluable. A 'good' review from Maria Luisa would often be followed up with an order which was the foundation of a young designer's career - giving vastly prestigious exposure to fledgling London talent in the heart of Paris. To be stocked by Maria Luisa was a passport to being seen and being taken seriously on the international stage. To receive her and guidance - enthusiasm, tempered with professional tough love - took dozens of designers from their first baby-steps to becoming commercially successful high-flyers. When we saw Maria Luisa and her right-hand man Robin Schulie arriving on the doorstep of the LONDON show ROOMS in Paris, her very presence lifted our hearts. She is responsible for helping an entire London generation what it is today, and we will always remember what this beautiful firebrand of independent fashion did for us."