Annie Officiel: Charlotte Lansard on creating a timeless brand for modern women

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We’ve all been there. It’s 7.30am on a Tuesday, you’re already running late for work and you open your wardrobe to find… nothing. At least nothing you actually want to wear anyway. For Charlotte Lansard, founder and creative director of Annie Officiel, this is a feeling with which she’s all too familiar.

“I wanted to build a strong wardrobe with timeless pieces but I couldn’t find what I was looking for on the market in terms of designs, values and price points,” she explains of the impetus behind Annie Officiel. “I really like brands who make their clothes in the UK or France, but I couldn’t find an affordable brand that was doing that in the kind of styles I like.”

In the end, it was a trip into her mother’s wardrobe, for whom Annie Officiel is named, that inspired Lansard. “I used to consume a lot of fast fashion and trendy clothes,” she admits, “but the more I grew up, the more I was getting into my mum’s closet and finding all these clothes that were very well designed and good quality.”

So, with a business education and an organic love of fashion, Lansard founded Annie Officiel in 2021. Eschewing the traditional seasonal approach to fashion, the brand releases new designs in ‘chapters’, allowing it to step back from the notoriously fast pace of the fashion industry and concentrate, instead, on delivering timeless, elegant, classic pieces that transcend trends.

“The idea is that pieces from Chapter One will match pieces from Chapter Four or Chapter Three. They can all be mixed together and everything becomes part of the core collection, we never create anything just for one season,” says Lansard of the brand’s innovative approach. “If a design from Chapter One is working and people love it, there’s no reason for us to stop doing it. We may put it out in a new fabric or new colours but the idea is that we’re creating a wardrobe that’s going to be available for years to come.”

It is no surprise, then, that Annie Officiel has gained a customer base as in tune with their wardrobe needs as Lansard is with her company ethos. “It’s always so inspiring to see the different women the brand attracts,” she says. “They’re independent, they know what they want and they like efficiency. It’s about strong pieces that are still going to look good in 10 years.”

Tell us about your background and how you got into fashion.

I don’t have a background in fashion. I have a Bachelors in business, a Masters in marketing and a diploma in finance. I always knew I wanted to create my own business but I never knew what or when. During Covid I had a lot of time to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. I love fashion and was starting to have strong ideas about the way the world consumes it. I thought if I combine all those thoughts and my values, I could create a brand and recruit skilled people to make it a reality.

What makes Annie Officiel different to other brands?

There are a lot of great brands out there. But when I started it wasn’t about comparing Annie Officiel to anyone else. It was more about asking why I wanted to create it and what values I wanted for it. It’s the values we bring to the brand that encourage people to buy from us.

What are those values?

We’re a small brand but we’re really focused on good quality, longevity and seasonlessness. If someone’s coming to Annie Officiel it will be because they’re looking for very timeless, sophisticated pieces.

We’ve also tried very hard to be accessible. The well-known labels tend to be very expensive because you’re buying the garments, but you’re also buying the brand. I really wanted to focus on finding a balance between a sensible price, because we still have to make money, but also offering good quality, good design and garments that are made in the UK.

annie officiel

Why did you decide to step away from the traditional fashion seasons?

I’ve never been a very season-led person. When I add pieces to my wardrobe it’s because they’re what I want to wear now and they fit the occasion I’m going to them wear for. It’s not about something being very wintry or summery or on trend. It’s about knowing that this piece fits me well and I feel confident in it. Pieces that work for the person wearing them rather than the season or the trend.

Sustainability is a key part of the brand. Why is that important to you?

First of all, I wouldn’t say we’re sustainable. It’s a very specific word with a strong meaning but we’re definitely eco-conscious. It’s been a non-negotiable point from the start. For me, and for everybody working on the brand, slow fashion is very important. We’re made in the UK and the fabric we work with is sourced in Europe.

The fact we’re seasonless also offers a more eco-conscious way of consuming fashion. It’s not in the mindset of the brand to have, for example, end-of-season sales. We never need to be sold out of certain pieces to make room for new stock. Instead we do more intimate events and give our customers a VIP experience without worrying about selling out a collection or specific design. We love this idea of building a strong community around the brand. It’s why we only sell direct-to-consumer: we’re accessible to our customers and, if we go to wholesale, we’ll lose this close relationship.

You grew up in France, why did you choose London as the home for Annie Officiel?

As much as I love France, and I’m very proud of where I’m from, I just fell in love with London. It just just felt right for me to stay here and create a business. I feel totally myself here. I love the architecture, the mindset – even the weather. Everything just works for me. I would love my first store to be in London. I’m hoping it will become a hub for social events that bring the community together.

Do you have a specific woman in mind when you’re designing?

When I started the brand I had a vision of my mum. She was a violinist and when she was on stage she used to wear very refined, sophisticated clothes. I also have a picture of Christy Turlington on a horse from Vogue in 1987. It inspires me so much; it’s exactly the kind of vibe I want for the brand. It’s timeless – in 10 years I’m sure I’m still going to love it as much as I do now.

Is there anyone in the public sphere you would love to see wearing your clothes?

If I could see any strong woman wearing the clothes that would be amazing. However, there’s a classical solo violinist called Nicola Benedetti who inspires me. I guess she reminds me a bit of my mum. Seeing her wearing the clothes on stage would feel like such an accomplishment. She’s so talented and has a foundation that promtoes equal access to music participation.

How have you found the experience of running your own business?

Invigorating, exciting, but very, very challenging. I’m learning a lot and it’s literally taking every bit of my life, all my thoughts, everything. Every day the brand is growing so we always need more skills and more components to keep going. It’s very consuming but it’s so enriching.

I love seeing everything that goes on behind the scenes and meeting so many skilled people. It feels great to have a team and see where we’re all going and what we’re accomplishing. We have a lot of women on the team. It’s very empowering to feel like a strong woman and to see a lot of strong woman being part of the brand.


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