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We talk to Isabel Marant: "The sexy doesn't have to be obvious"

We talk to Isabel Marant: "The sexy doesn't have to be obvious"


The most significant moment of my interview with Isabel Marant occurs in the first second, just when the screen of the French fashion designer comes alive in Zoom.Agile and vivacious at 54, the woman who has possibly made to define the French style of the 21st century, is not yet ready for our talk."I'm just going to look for my lighter!" He shouts with his warm voice with soft nasal tones.

Of course you need your lighter.And of course he smokes.Much of Marant's appeal is, after all, the way she and her brand embody the modern Parisian woman.Since he launched his signature in 1994, this Parisian born in one of the well -off neighborhoods of the Gala capital has gradually imposed his extravagant elegance.First he did it in his city and then in almost all others, building a global business that had an estimated value of 300 million euros in 2016, when he sold a participation to Montefiore Investments, but that is worth much more now.

Because even if they don't know their name, everyone knows what their seal is: a Blazer in size XL on a gathered miniskirt or a spent cowboy;also one of his Boho blouses combined with his supervent wedge shoes.If in the last 25 years he has traveled to Paris and has eaten or taken the appetizer any fashion place, surely he will have crossed some edition of the woman Isabel Marant.Or with Marant itself.“Yes, the Parisian style is increasingly defined by this image of a woman I have created.It is not so terrible to admit it, ”says smiling from the screen.

And that trend has been cemented later by all the other French brands, "that copied and robbed me," he adds happily.During our talk, Marant is in his office, sitting at a wall full of books, with his gray hair without dyeing and collected as usual in a bun, dressed in two sweaters and with glasses embedded in the nose.

It is your standard work outfit, says.During the week, he hides there, at the head of a group of about 300 employees.But on weekends, she, her husband (also designer Jérôme Dreyfuss) and her teenage son, such, take refuge in a cabin in the countryside, on the outskirts of Paris."I am really Parisine," Marant continues. ".That character is innate: that carefree style, the girl who smokes and drinks...Voilash!I am really the archetype! ".

Metallic fabrics, miniskirts, asymmetric cuts...All with the casual air that characterizes the firm./ D.R.

Hablamos con Isabel Marant: “Lo sexy no tiene por qué ser obvio”

The designer seems satisfied with that typecasting.I suppose anyone would be if I had built a multimillionaire empire like yours, composed of two women's clothing lines, one of man, another of accessories and, now, a new line of glasses.His spirit, however, is light years of that unreal Paris, covered with caramel, which we have seen in Emily in Paris, the recent Netflix series.In fact, it is much closer to the way in which representatives of Parisian actors are seen in the French series Call My agent.

Precisely, one of the rare occasions in which he interrupts his talk is when I ask him if Emily in Paris has seen.It is totally blank."Nope...I do not know".Silence.Smile as an apology.“I love reading and I really don't watch television.If I do, I usually choose documentaries.A series takes too long! ".

Everything changed with fast fashion

Isabel Marant is the daughter of a French father who worked in the world of advertising and a German mother who was a model and then designed knit garments.He grew up in one of the most wealthy neighborhoods in Paris, Neully Sur-Seine, and at the beginning he showed no interest in fashion.On the contrary, he admits, he was a moody girl.But at 11, suddenly, he began to create unconventional looks from garments that his parents discard."I think I was very lucky when I was young.I was very ugly, but my little brother was very handsome.We have a similar look, it is strange, but he was perfect and I...”, Reflects.However, he does not tell as if it were a sad story: "I think that, with clothes, I just wanted to look at me, that people see who I was," he acknowledges shrugging.

Dressing in a different way was also a form of rebellion for her.His styles had very little to do with those of his mother or those of his stepmother, an elegant woman from the Antilles, who was always dressed in the last.Isabel's habitual image was a mixture of her great passions: rock, grunge and his trips all over the world, and a very different proposal of the sexy style that triumphed between the high Parisian bourgeoisie of the time.With 15 years, he got a sewing machine and began creating clothes with his first boyfriend, Christophe Lemaire, future artistic director of Hermès.

Then he decided to study design in the prestigious Studio Berçot and, in the late 80.When I tell him that it is ironic that he has ended up personifying the Parisian style, when it seemed so antiparisine, he points out that the city was somehow.“What fascinates me is how immigrant groups arrive with their own culture and adapt it to the style of this city.That was the starting point of my style ".

Marant insists that he prefers fashion reality rather than fantasy."When I started doing prêt-à-porter, what matched me was to use that term literally, tell myself:" Design clothing because I want to dress ".As a business plan, it sounds excessively obvious, but she was clear that there was a gap in the market she could occupy.“It was the Hypersexys years, in which Tom Ford triumphed, the woman-object...–Frunction the frown–.I rebelled against that vision a bit promiscuous and dirty that men had of women, who always had to go overcard.

I didn't recognize me in that woman at all ".It is true that your clothes also have a certain sexy, but it is more a game of adding and subtracting.“Sexy does not have to be ostentatious and obvious.There is a certain discretion in the sensuality that I like much more, ”he says.

The weekend cabin

And all this takes us to her new range of glasses, which she promotes with her relaxed style.There are different prices, according to their different female clothing lines, and that loves, he says, “because I lose my sunglasses constantly, so I don't want to spend too much on them.I prefer to have fun with some eccentric that are not very expensive, and then have a really beautiful couple, of which I never tire ”.When I tell her with a laugh that she wears her glasses to see new during our talk, she protests laughing: "I need them!".Have you always needed them?"Nope!It is old age.From the age of 40, you know...When you can't read the small print of recipes, you think: "Oh my God!".

Bullfighters and microshorts are two of Isabel Marant's key summer proposals./ D.R,

Marant began his relationship with Jérôme Dreyfuss more than 20 years ago.She repeats that, in reality, they never talk about work when they are together, but at the same time she recognizes that living with someone who works in the fashion industry was "enormously" useful."My previous boyfriends said:" You just love your work "," You are addicted to work "...You know, being an independent woman makes the male ego stir a little ".But with her husband, the relationship "flowed immediately.And, when you have a disappointment, it helps not to have a man next to him: "But it is only a piece of fabric!".When they had their son such, Isabel and her husband agreed to turn the afternoons during the week to take care of him, while the other stayed in his office.But on weekends they always go to their cabin in the Fontainebleau forest, those getaways are sacred to them.There they can devote themselves to their passions, from gardening to welding ("such is obsessed," says Isabel with fake despair) or ceramics, the last passion of the designer.However, as she confesses, she is almost work addicted.

Even when they took refuge in the field during the hardest stage of confinement in France, it ended up working 12 hours a day.Pandemia has not made a dent in the business, admits, because the closure of some physical stores has compensated with an explosion of online sales: "It has been a tiny decrease, for what could have been".But it seems that Marant is not yet ready to retire to his cabin to spend the days without more concern than his hobbies and family.Maybe it's as unlikely as I stop smoking.


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