Mother, wife, designer and creator of the French brand Louise Misha, the story of Marie, born 35 years ago in Paris, is an expression of the desire to rediscover the beauty of authentic, crafted things, made with dedication and care towards every detail. Travel around the world to explore new cultures, respect for the environment, kindness, warmth, family. In a society where consumption is spasmodic, where time to listen yourself and listen the others is more and more a gift that sometimes we do not give ourselves and few granted, it is good for the heart to see the creativity of a young designer blossoming towards a sustainable fashion, a new humanism of creativity where respect for human beings and love for craft traditions are at the center of everything.
Marie, where did your passion for craft design come from?
My parents loved theater and literature so I grew up in an environment where there was no fashion but lots of creativity. I remember that as a child I always wanted to create clothes. I cut out paper shapes, drew on them and tied them together. The results were not exceptional but this allowed me to discover my vocation. Even my grandfather, Jean Laude, was instrumental. He was a writer passionate about African art and I grew up surrounded by the pieces he adored. This atmosphere has definitely influenced me. To him I owe my taste for traditional and folkloristic things.
You and Aurelie founded the brand after a trip to India. Why did you make this choice? What is the meaning of Louise Misha?
It all started 10 years ago during a trip. We fell in love with India, a country where everything is unexpected, emotions are strong and life is more intense. Nothing is easy but nothing is impossible. It is truly a source of continuous inspiration wherever you go: the corner of a street in Jaipur or Delhi, the details of a sari, the smell of spices in the markets, the smiles of children … Aurelie and I decided to combine our inspirations to create a line of prêt-à-porter and accessories for young girls and give life to the Louise Misha brand, whose choice stems from a combination of those of our beloved grandmothers. I am very attached to my family and my sisters. When they became mothers I immediately thought of a line for their daughters. Louise Misha was also born from this desire. Today Aurelie is working on something else, realizing new dreams but the brand continues to grow and evolve. The collections that I make are dedicated to three age groups: the smallest girls from 3 to 24 months, then we have a line that goes from 3 to 14 years and one for women. We are a large team now with 400 dealers worldwide and a lively online store. I’m really happy to work with the fabulous team that was created.
You define your brand as a Bohemian style, full of poetry. What are the elements that inspire your collections?
Each collection is an invitation to a new destination. I travel a lot and obviously the clothes I design are inspired by what I discover. As I said I have a great passion for local traditions, crafts and folklore. From my point of view, fashion trends are often meaningless. When I start working on a new collection I always want to tell a story, a journey. They are very personal, intimate. For example, last winter, I was in Guadeloupe, in the French Caribbean. When I returned to France I immediately realized that I would design a collection on the Caribbean that we then launched for this spring summer. The vegetation, the fruits and the light of the island have particularly fascinated me!
You produce in India, Morocco, France, Italy and China all unique handmade pieces. What role do you think craftsmanship has in this historical period?
Each piece must be done with love, respect and quality. We select our partners based on their skills in any country or continent, to ensure a high level of quality and care. By participating in the local development of each country in which we work, we monitor the working conditions in all the ateliers and maintain a close relationship with them. Kindness is something central to me and to the brand: it guides every decision, choice, action and, in turn, every creation. In China we work with different laboratories each with a different specialty such as silk and embroidery. Our main laboratory is a family laboratory run by a friend of mine. They are small places with a human dimension, usually on one floor and, depending on the period of the year, can reach 40/50 people. In India we work with a family-run company that is expert in handmade details and cotton work. The workers are men and women and each of them has his specialty, from the creating patterns at work with embroidery and incredible block prints. In Morocco instead we have artisans who receive the material and work it from home, with their own rhythm. This allows people living in smaller villages to practice their profession near the family.
What is the life cycle of a collection?
Once the theme is established, I start research with the design team: cultures, colors, models, history. From this the first sketches take shape. So I start buying raw materials. I usually go to India or Morocco where there are markets with very beautiful fabrics, with a variety of colors and patterns. Once the sketches have been defined, we send instructions to the workshops with which we collaborate that begin to produce the first samples. My team and I always go to visit them to make sure everything is under control. After receiving the samples we make the necessary changes before putting them into production. We attach great importance to our customers’ feedback and work closely with them to learn more about what works and what doesn’t, and how we can improve a fabric, a fit and the type of clothing they prefer. This allows us to improve the collections over the seasons.
What are your plans for the future?
They are linked to a key problem today for the fashion industry and that we need to address given our growth: trying to produce more ecologically and with less impact. It’s not an easy path right now, especially for smaller companies like us but it’s something we care about. One of the great projects that we aim to develop for example during the next summer season is to work with more ecological packaging for transport and storage. Another is to be able to find more ecological material like organic cotton and integrate it into the collection. We also like the fact that our clothes are something that little girls can grow with, not just something to keep for a season.
What book are you reading right now?
I have just finished the book “Petit Pays” by Gael Faye. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but it’s very interesting to understand better what happened in Rwanda and Burundi only a few years ago. The child’s history and indifference are particularly moving. The nonchalance of childhood is wonderfully described.