How did you start your career in fashion? what did you study?
I studied BA hons fashion and textiles, on leaving art college in the middle of a recession with few jobs I was determined to enter my chosen profession and started my own brand in partnership with a friend. Although I gained great experience I would always recommend people work for a few years before starting on their own. It’s a tough business and good to have as much experience as possible before you start your own thing.
You have gained a lot of experience with many brands: which were the most interesting for you?
I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for many great brands at all levels of the market and across 3 continents. I have been lucky with the jobs that I have had, I don’t think there is one place where I worked that I did not learn some important lessons. The most enjoyable was Viktor and Rolf, without doubt being Head of design there was a dream job for me and I loved everything about it. The guys were amazing, inspiring and generally wonderful, I had an incredible team and we were located in Amsterdam, a beautiful city with the best quality of life…..what is not to love.
In addition I gained incredibly valuable experience whilst working in the US, a completely different market and product but I would recommend everyone try to work there to experience the great energy and learn the business. As a designer in America it was expected that I was a part of the business strategy and expected to understand potential opportunities and threats that may face any business.
Why the name “les Animaux”?
I was uncomfortable using my own name as a brand is never only about one person, there is always a dedicated team that contributes to what is produced and I wanted to reflect that. The genesis of the name had a humanist foundation, I truly believe that now more than ever we must remember that whatever our race, sexuality, gender, sexual orientation….species we are all animals and we all inhabit the planet together….and in french because I find it a beautiful and romantic language.
What is the meaning of the concept “Distortion with a new wave attitude”?
It represents the two parts of my design ethos, I love novel and innovative pieces but for me they absolutely must fit into a wardrobe and they must be functional. We always have a lot of distorted pieces within the collection, half jacket half sweatshirt, half dress half tope etc or simply existing pieces that we piece together in anew and unusual way, the new wave attitude comes from my teenage years spent as a goth, it is a love of that post punk aesthetic that I always find inspiring and wanted to include within the codes of the collection.
Where do you produce your collections?
100% in Europe, currently Italy and England. Italy has beautiful quality and workmanship but we also love working with factories in London, where we have a few partners whom absolutely support our business and are run by great people.
I love that that London almost lost it’s manufacturing base but it’s starting to reappear.
Why haute couture?
In our case the haute couture is more an approach, working alongside the absolute masters in the couture atelier at Viktor and Rolf I saw an attention to detail that was staggering, the levels of workmanship were incredible. we could never compete with the pieces that were produced there but we always try to put our hands on things. It is really important to me that there is always an element of the collection that we work with in the studio in an organic way, produced gradually over the period of a few days or weeks,when we sell these pieces we could never charge for all the hours we spend on them, so I try to take pieces back i the evening and work on them a little. We all love hand sewing and find it really therapeutic so this is definitely something that I would like to keep in the collection.
Is there a designer you would like to work with?
I am in awe of the Japanese designers, so it will come as no surprise for me to say that Rei Kawakubo is a hero of mine, alongside Junya Watanabe and Martin Margiela.
What’s next for your brand?
Every day I feel fortunate that I have the opportunity to work on Les Animaux, for me it is not the recognition but the freedom that I love. Our brand is still so new, we launched in October 2015 in Paris and already I feel like we have achieved so much but in order for a company to sustain and grow it’s is important to engage and excite followers and customers alike with interesting content and collections. At the moment we have released a look book each season to show the new collection but I think the next step would be a presentation….in this way we get to cement the aesthetic in a way that will be memorable for more people.
Your next dream?
I feel like the world has entered a particularly dark phase at the moment, there are ugly things happening everywhere and it would be easy to lose heart but my dream would be that we can overcome the challenges that we currently all face together….first with acceptance, then with respect and love.