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Fashion: Canadian designer’s pants enjoy bipartisan support


By Carrie Humphreys
For the Observer

Lisette Limoges designs women’s pants. The ultimate pant, according to her, that flatter women of every body type and size. For women of all ages and lifestyles.

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Kathi Lee Gifford, Governor Nikki Haley, Ivanka Trump, and Hillary Clinton all proclaim to be fans of the Lisette-L line.

Limoges says her pants make you feel better about yourself. “Once you try them on, you feel good in them. You buy them. That’s it.”

Shoppers can try them on at Pawleys Island Wear in the Hammock Shops. Limoges and family – husband Neil Small, daughter Kathryne, and puppy Jupiter – visited the boutique on Monday to showcase the Lisette-L brand. The business is a family affair. Lisette’s daughter is associate creative director. Lisette’s husband and son David oversee sales. They charmed customers, according to store owner Beth Hart.

Hart has carried Lissette-L pants for nearly 10 years. Locally the line is exclusive to Pawleys Island Wear. “My clientele come back season after season to try on the newest looks. There is such a variety of styles that work well for all body types. But the best part is the fit,” Hart said.

Monday’s appearance was Limoges’ first visit to the Hammock Shops. Prior to her visiting our area, she and family spent 10 days in Charleston as one of the sponsors of the Family Circle Volvo Cup Classic tennis tournament.

“We hosted the players party and I had such good time. People are so warm here,” she said in a lilting French-Canadian accent. “I met Nikki [Haley] and had cocktails with Martha [Stewart]. They both love my pants.”

Priced between $129 to $179, and ranging in size from 0 to 16, the wash-and-wear, pull-on pants are constructed with a hidden tummy panel that smooths and enhances a woman’s natural curves. They come in all lengths and in a multitude of colors, even prints. No buttons. No zippers. No pockets.

It is Oprah who put Limoges’ brand on the map several years ago. Oprah wore the pants for three separate covers for O Magazine and “fell in love with them,” Limoges said. Oprah then included her in The Life You Want tour, which attracted up to 22,000 people at a time in cities like Atlanta, Newark and Miami, where 250 pairs of Lisette-L pants were given away to participants. When Oprah took the stage she would tell the crowd she was wearing Lisette-L pants, calling them the most comfortable pair of pants she has ever worn.

Since Oprah’s endorsement, Limoges’ business, located in her home town of Montreal, has boomed. She is stunned that the sales for the made-in-Canada brand have grown 900 percent. Staffing has increased from 5 to 65 employees, not including the outside contractors.

“We grew fast,” Limoges said.

And although sales soared with Oprah’s approval, her pants got their kick-start four years ago when Kathie Lee Gifford held up a pair of Lisette-L pants on her morning television show, declaring to viewers that they “fit like a dream.” Gifford had purchased the pants in a Key Largo, Fla., boutique.

“We had no idea she was going to do that,” Limoges said. “Our website was flooded with so many people trying to place orders that it crashed.”

Limoges and her husband spent 30 years representing other manufacturers prior to forming their own company in 2003. Their retail clients kept asking them for a perfect fitting pair of pants. When they couldn’t find it, they decided to create it themselves. Today their unique line also includes mix-and-match knit tops and blazers to complement the solid or print pant. The multitude of pieces are versatile and incredibly chic. No surprise that celebrities fancy them.

Since her unexpected success, Lisette now spends most of her time traveling to boutiques across Canada, The United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand listening to the needs of her customers. She then returns home to produce the next season’s designs, selecting the fabrics and a diversity of styles, from boot cut to capris, which she embellishes with a signature Lisette metal tab attached to the front of the pants, just below the waistband.

A grandmother, Limoges, 66, grew up in her family’s grocery store. “I was always in the public, around people,” she said. “I like to talk, but I never thought I would have this – that I would become what I am. It cannot get any better. My dream is now. My mother is so proud.”

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