Since 2006 Roland Mouret redefined the dress with the sell-out Galaxy and Moon dresses and made a feminine, curvy figure desirable once more. Victoria Beckham was such a fan that, well, frankly the similarity of her first collection to Mouret’s didn’t go unremarked.
He’s dressed Rachel Weisz, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Middleton, and Dita von Teese. There’s no denying that French-born London-based Mouret is a woman’s designer. I challenge you to don one of his pieces and argue it doesn’t flatter and automatically bestow upon you an old world elegance, transforming you into an unrivalled glamourous creature. I’ve been a fan of Mouret’s work from the outset. His dresses require filling and you don’t need to beat yourself up for not having the body of a 6-foot androgynous Swedish netballer. Most of all, they’re drop-dead gorgeous!
His beautiful shop and design HQ is in the heart of Mayfair (conveniently across the road from the Connaught Hotel- they make amazing vodka martinis!), a six-storey, 19th century mansion with dark oak detailing and a spiralling staircase. It’s a treat visiting it every year, viewing his collections in a space that mixes works of art picked out by the designer with 70s furniture, and wonderful design. It embodies all the elegance of his creations.
Recently Mouret stepped into women’s shoes (teehee!), as the Creative Director for French footwear label Robert Clergerie. With an innate understanding of what women want, it’s no surprise that he’s been able to come up with a collection as refined as his ready-to-wear. Platform and strong heels, graphic shapes, metallic leather and innovative materials reference both the Clergerie history and give the brand a renewed modern spirit. The perfect antidote to the steroidal status shoes of today!
I was lucky enough to grab 15 minutes with Roland when he was in HK recently to promote his collection at On Pedder. And here is the interview!
Post-ism– Roland, welcome back! It’s your second time here?
Roland Mouret– Third now!
P– Can you tell me a little about your relationship to the Robert Clergerie brand and how this collaboration came about?
RM– It’s a collaboraion that was so natural. There was this notion of legacy I liked. I want to do things I haven’t done before and to play outside of the box, and one thing I havent done before is play with someone else’s legacy. There’s a father-son relatinship with the company. I met Robert 25 years ago and he inspired me and gave me an education I never thought I could have, in architecture, minimalism, volumes … It really stuck with me. I didn’t realise until I started to do my own clothes that there was so much there. To be asked to come back and do the creative direction of the brand was almost like coming back home.
P– Is there an aesthetic correlation between the designs you do for Robert Clergerie and the designs for your own brand?
RM– No, no, I separate them quite strongly… the Clergerie customer is not automatically the Mouret customer. From my point of view the Clergerie customer would probably have a wardrobe of Marni and Celine. It fits in the wardrobe of a woman who buys designers, but who would also wear the shoes with a pair of jeans. But it’s really bringing Clergerie back to that level of high-end fashion.
P– There seems to be a bit of a retro inspiration to this collection.
RM– I learned that from Robert. He loves the ’30s and ’40s. There’s something about troubled times that Robert loves, when women were more feminine and would at the same time be able to move and react and defend themselves. I think that’s what I relate to as a designer, an iconography can be both from the past and the future. That vision resonates with me.
I think the Clergerie shoe is something you live with, it’s like your best friend. I love shoes that you can rely on like your best friend. They can’t be so extreme…Clergerie is for everything. It’s not just comfort, it’s how you approach it intellectually too. It’s versatile. I love that in people, in situations and my work.
P– You’ve certainly nailed designing an iconic dress. But what makes an iconic shoe?
RM– An iconic shoe is something people are going to want. That’s the concept of an icon. It’s something relevant to your life. An iconic dress is when so many people want the same dress but for different reasons … you cant manufacture it, it just happens. Yes, I did it with a dress, but somehow or another I also expect to do it with shoes. I’m a master of the dress and I want to become a master of the shoe.
P– Will the shoe designing have a life beyond the collaboration with Robert Clergerie?
RM– There is already a Roland Mouret shoe line produced by the factory of Robert Clergerie that is in my shop. Like I said, I really want to keep it separate because it’s a different world. Maybe what I bring to Clergerie I will not do for Roland Mouret, but you will still see some sort of a link.
P– How do you manage to keep this balance between designing for your own brand, the shop and designing for Clergerie?
RM– Oh, it’s so nice! First, I’m a Virgo and a control freak. I’m very organised. It’s nice to wear diffeent hats. I think the reason I wanted to do the collaboration was so I didn’t have to be Roland Mouret the designer all the time, I also wanted to be someone else. It allowed me to refresh myself … I can step out and when I come back again, I’m so focused, more so than if I was doing the same thing all the time. It’s important to have a fresh eye.
P– What role does art play in your life?
RM– My husband is a sculptor. We have a lot of art discussions and confrontations at home. I think we’re surrounded by art and images all the time, from images flashing on the internet at home, on the street … pictures are always there. A lot of the time, they are artistic pictures, and you live with them in such a different way than 20 years ago. Back then you had to go to an exhibition to have an opinion. Now it’s very accessible, you don’t even need to go to the gallery anymore. Which is like fashion shows. I was reading in the paper about a designer doing a fashion show on Instyle.com.
I have a tumblr blog on my website rolandmouret.com, an ‘Inspired By’ section for my diary of the week – they are pictures that I interact with. I find it fantastic because it’s not as easy to relate it to the job I’m doing, but they’re images that take me somewhere else.
P– But these images and art works feed into your overall aesthetic don’t they? Like your shop in London which is full of beautiful details and art works.
RM– Yes, I love it but I can’t always explain the purpose of the art in the communication of the brand, like some of those bigger brands with their advertisements. I can’t because it’s just something that interacts with me…I don’t try to make it a deliberate communication of my brand.
I do the tumblr thing twice a week. It’s for me. It’s about pictures that have touched me that week. Not a mood board, because that somehow filters back into the collection, this doesn’t necessarily.
P– Describe your studio.
RM– In my workspace I surround myself with things that are relevant to my work. My room is empty, on the chair there are some cards and thank you notes, and pins and scissors … A few books are there … most of the time there’s a mess on the window-sill. And then there’s my husband’s stuff that sort of invades my artistic space. There is clay everywhere. Why??!
P– Haha! Sounds like two creative worlds bleeding into one another. What’s the reaction been like to your new shoe collection?
RM– I think it’s been good. I really try to work with what’s desirable. But I think the concept of desire has changed. It’s no longer that ’80s addictive desire. I think you can start to desire things with a certain maturity. I think I can put together a flat shoe and a high heel and they can be desirable in the same way because it’s about an object that has to enter your life. That was my challenge with the brand and I thought that worked very well here (in Hong Kong).
Collection in store at On Pedder now.
All images courtesy of On Pedder.