The pioneering fashion buyer Maria Luisa Poumaillou has died following a long battle with cancer. Born in Venezuela and raised in Paris, Poumaillou was famed for her exceptional taste, championing designers through her boutique, Maria Luisa, which first opened on the Rue Cambon in 1988. The store went on to become one of the most influential shopping spots in the world, forming the template for high-end boutiques today. 

Poumaillou was an early supporter of Jean Paul Gaultier and Helmut Lang and possessed a knack for spotting talent. In an interview with Business of Fashion she recalled seeing a picture of Christopher Kane's graduate collection and was so impressed she secured a ticket to his next show and instructed her head buyer to rush backstage and get him for the store. But it was Belgian designer Margiela who Poumaillou credited with keeping her interest in the industry – each collection, said the buyer to BOF, "gave me an intellectual shock, which gave me the faith I needed to know what I was doing wasn’t stupid, that it meant something.”

In 2010, she closed the doors of her Maria Luisa store and instead took up the challenge of revitalising Parisian department store Printemps. She opened a shop-in-shop version of her original boutique and designed a range for the store.

Upon hearing the news of her death this week designers, journalists and fashion fans were quick to remember the influencer, tweeting their condolences; “R.I.P. Maria Luisa one of the first people to buy my collections from graduating,” Kim Jones wrote whilst journalist Vanessa Friedman tweeted, "A toast to the legacy of retailer Maria Luisa Poumaillou, who changed so many designers' stars."