Wardrobe Stylist: Laura Aguilera Photographer: David Tenori Makeup Artist: Nieves Velasco Model: Ines Castelot Designer: Lisa Mimoun Brand: EMILIE MARCELLE
When did your passion for fashion start and what were the main milestones that turned you into the artist you currently are?
It all started with my grandmother, Emilie Marcelle, who was an haute couture lover and collector. I spent some of my fondest memories with her, in the dressing room of her Parisian apartment. There she introduced me to her collection of exquisite dresses, highlighting the hand-made finishes, the attention to detail and the beauty of the materials.
It was there, among her marvellous haute couture collection, that I discovered the magic of sumptuous fabrics and silk linings.
"It is by turning a dress over that one measures its true beauty" she used to say.
I have started the brand and couture house Emilie Marcelle to bring this back into the world. Haute couture still exists but is available to only a chosen few, it’s also not wearable everyday, Emilie Marcelle brings this excellence, this know-how to timeless versatile and affordable pieces we can wear everyday from day to night. Made in France in our atelier, we believe in total transparency with our clients.
What do you love the most about your profession?
I love making women look beautiful and feel beautiful.
The use of soft and beautiful silk lining makes them feel so comfortable and worth it.
There is a sensorial rapport to clothes, it’s not just visual. It’s very important.
The silk lining caresses your skin, silk is also a thermoregulator and so it’s warming when it’s cold out and fresh when it’s warm outside, it makes you feel protected and your best self.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it? Is there any message you would like your photos to convey?
We make timeless and versatile pieces extremely well and in Paris.
We create clothes to keep for a lifetime or more ( you can pass it on to the next generation) because they are timeless, beautifully made, it’s art we wear. We work long hours on each piece’s cut so that it falls perfectly and that it’s comfortable. A woman is most beautiful and her best self when she’s comfortable.
How hard has it been establishing yourself in the industry and what are some of the largest things you've faced?
It’s challenging today to start an authentic fashion house without major funding. We don't advertise because we don't have the budget for it.
It’s challenging also because there is Made in France and Made in France, a fashion house like ours make everything here, from the drawings, the pattern to the making of the pieces, we dont just add buttons here in order to get the Made in France label.
It’s hard for customers to know the difference because of a lack of transparency in the industry.
We have a personal relationship with every client, we make pieces to fit their lifestyle and that's something that no longer exists. It’s hard to be a purist in this world of marketing but our clients are very grateful and that makes me very happy.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Communicate more. We have been a sustainable brand from the beginning- before it was fashionable to be- because I believe that the only way to live is to leave a positive print into the world. I believe in respecting the earth by making clothes we keep, which are not throwable, because they are well made.
We also use deadstock fabrics from other haute couture houses, create limited editions of every piece and make a conscious decision of paying the seamstresses a fare and living wage in Paris but we haven't communicated much about it.
What is your main source of inspiration?
Movies from the 40s, 50s and 60s, and paintings- the beauty of fabric in a Delacroix or Titian's painting but also music, because style is harmony, it’s knowing when to stop so that it stays timeless and perfect.
Are there particular issues within the fashion industry that concern you?
Yes, fast fashion of course. The fact that people buy a price instead of realizing what it means to have an item of clothing at this price, and the true cost it has for the planet and the people making those clothes. Clothes are not throwable items, they are meant to last and be passed onto the next generation like our grand-mothers did with their beautiful vintage pieces and kelly bags.
What kind of impact do you hope to make in the fashion world?
I hope that know-how will keep on living because of fashion houses like ours.
It’s the gold thread that has been passed on from one generation to the next, for hundreds of years. It’s very precious.
France has a real savoir- faire, know-how when it comes to couture and sadly people don't pay much attention to it and so brands don't either because it is more expensive to produce. But this is how clothes are well made and dont fall apart and therefore don't pollute the planet.
The know-how is also what makes the world beautiful whether it's in couture, embroidery, lace-making, patisserie, cuisine or home remodeling. This is what we’ve learned and perfected over centuries and letting it go just to make more money would be a terrible tragedy.
In your daily routine, what resources do you like to learn new things about art, fashion?
I like to “keep the masters in mind”, as my step-father Patrick Faigenbaum likes to say.
Turn off the noise and focus on what will perdure.
I live near the tuileries garden and Orsay museum in Paris and everyday before starting my day, I go for a walk there and stop by the orangerie museum to look at the Monet’s nympheas for a little while. What a blessed time it is to be in these rooms created just to fit those masterpieces. I usually don't stay very long but it lifts my spirits greatly.
I also like to stop by the Orsay museum and pick one painting or sculpture to look at, just one.
I love Auguste Clésinger’s sculpture “Woman bitten by a snake” from 1847, I can stay there looking at it forever.
What projects are you working on next, and what are your goals for the future?
Aside from continuing making easy, versatile and pleasant-to-wear wardrobes for my clients, I would like to contribute in French savoir-faire, French know-how, not dying by creating a platform where the petites mains as we call them, the fairies of haute- couture, who are mostly retiring now, transfer their knowledge to the new generation. They are absolute masters at what they do and though at Emilie Marcelle, we still work like that, very few people do and it’s important this keeps on going.
Another one of my projects is to open a women-owned co-op atelier in a developing country where the women who sew our pieces would add their local embroideries on the pieces to make a special collection. This will be a co-op, so if the collection does well, they will receive their share of the profit.
Where can we see more of your works and get connected with you?
Aside from coming to my shop/ atelier 46 rue de Verneuil in Paris 7th district, which i welcome you to, we will do some little videos soon on social media where you can see how we work and what new styles we are working on because I know it’s becoming more difficult for people to travel at the moment.
What is your moto?
My grandmother would say “excellence”, she believed you must always push yourself to make whatever you are making as close to perfection as you can. She believed in high- standards you set up for yourself but she was also full of Love.
I would say my moto is
“Empowering women through clothes made with Love, savoir-faire and excellence and making style that lasts, not fashion”
What exactly do you mean by empowering women?
Empowering the women wearing them by giving them beautifully made clothes with incredible soft linings that make you feel so good and self-confident.
Empowering the women making the clothes by paying them a living wage and asking them to use their skills and not just saw garments.
Passing this Love from the women making the clothes with passion and patience to the women wearing them and adding them to their long- lasting wardrobe.