We love all of the amazing independent designers out there. In order to find out more about just what makes all of these creative types tick, we present to you an ongoing segment called Indie Designer Interviews.
Today's interview is with a very talented young French designer, Emmanuelle-Marie, who creates whimsical yet modern women's clothing that seems like something out of a fairy-tale dreamworld.
Tell us a little about yourself and your work. My name is Emmanuelle-Marie, I'm 26, French, and the designer, pattern-maker and seamstress for MALAM, an independent brand of one-of-a-kind clothing for women. I try to make and sell clothes that make women stand out, in response to overwhelming mainstream fashion trends. At the moment, I am only making one-of-a-kind clothes, or very limited edition series (2 or 3 pieces), because I want to keep having fun while designing them. In everyday life, I am pretty much interested in everything. I have already tried my hand at playing music, drawing, jewelry making, painting and digital design. My current occupation satisfies a lot of my needs: my creative side with designing models, my logical and down-to-earth side with the pattern drafting, and my crafting abilities with the sewing, the clothes painting and customizing. So far, I am only making women's clothing, but I have a few ideas building up at the moment for a men's line...
How did you get started as a designer? I've always loved drawing. This is what led me to enter a Fashion School in Paris, after getting a degree in Management in a French Business School. Once there, I realized the endless possibilities offered by the ability to draft patterns, and after a few experiences working for other designers in Paris, I was craving to develop my own "universe", instead of trying to fit into other designers' visions (although these were all extremely interesting and fulfilling experiences). I first made a few models and took part in exhibitions, during which I met with enough success with customers to take the plunge and launch the brand. In this, I was well supported by my family and friends, even though my style choices were not always in their own tastes!
What inspires your work? I read an impressive amount of stories and legends as a little girl, and spent all my holidays in an old fashioned castle that belonged to my great-grandmother. This may be why I am now very much attracted to historical costumes and imaginary worlds, as well as vintage styles. I mix these influences with great fabrics I am always on the hunt for. It is usually when I see the fabric that I decide what I'll do with it, rarely the contrary, unless it is for a custom order. I haunt flea markets as well, so as to find the antique lace and buttons I will give a new life to.
Any advice you would give to aspiring designers? I would say it is necessary to take risks - within reasonable boundaries. What you don't try when you have the possibility to, you may not be able to do later. However, always give yourself time to ponder about advice you are given. And don't forget you want to build a business. An idea, or a product is not enough; take the time to build marketing, communication, and pricing strategies. If you make great things but no one knows about them, that's not going to do you any good!
What are your top fashion & beauty must-haves? I could not do without a pair of black flared trousers, and a black vest. These can just be matched with anything, and I love layering. I can wear a top, a dress, a skirt and trousers at the same time! Eyes are to me the most significant part of the face, hence in terms of makeup, I use only khôl and mascara: black, green, blue, purple... but a lot of it!
Where can people find your work? On the internet, among other places, MALAM clothes can be found on my website www.poupees-perdues.com , and on my online shop. I always advertise upcoming shows on my website.