Paris in four years

When I first came across @parisinfourmonths account on Instagram and hit the “follow” button for its envy-inducing photos reflecting a quintessentially Parisian lifestyle (strolls around the city, flowers, fashion and style, of course, included) I had little knowledge of the person behind all of this. Judging from the name, I assumed it was a documentation of somebody’s current venture to Paris for four months. As more and more time passed, I started questioning how long can possibly these four months last until I visited Carin Olsson’s – by then I had already learnt her name – blog and realized that “Paris in four months” wasn’t at all her current state. It was a reference to a very romantic prelude to the seemingly perfect Carin’s life that I was offered a glance at with these meticulously curated square photos.

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photo: Nadia Gric

Step by step, I learnt her story. No matter how reckless and brave her decision to leave a stable job in Sweden and install in Paris may sound, the outcome was (and is) more than rewarding. After more than four years full of difficult beginnings, challenging projects, and new discoveries Carin has earned her respectful name. For now, she has amassed almost one million of following on her Instagram account, to which she explicitly refers as her visual diary which still has the same direction as it had back in the beginning. At the same time, she goes so much further the usual ‘blogger/influencer’ tagline: Carin is also an appreciated photographer and a definite insider in the fashion industry. The names of her clients are not any less impressive: Gucci, Dior, Cartier to cite a few.

However, Carin’s level of modesty and kindness is directly proportional to her achievements. While I was waiting to meet her in the garden of Petit Palais, it was impossible for me not to notice the glances one elderly couple was giving this young Swedish woman when she entered the café and looked around with her big blue eyes and brushed through angelic blond curls. She was dressed in casual clothes: a green bomber, black T-shirt and jeans, the whole ensemble made just a notch edgier by her studded mini Lady Dior bag. Then she found me and greeted with a huge smile, as if we’d been friends for a long time before. Throughout our conversation, she never checked her phone or time, eagerly asked questions about me and willingly answered every question I asked – despite being very sweet, she’s also unashamedly open about the other side of her stellar ascension in social media and doesn’t sugar coat her words while talking about the daily life.

You’ve recently come back from a trip to Sweden to meet your family and friends. Doesn’t it feel strange to come back to your hometown after having spent four years here? Do you consider Paris as your home now?

It does feel very strange! I’d say I have 2 homes. Sweden will always be my home because that’s where I’m from, that’s where I grew up and where my family is, but I’m also very blessed to be able to call Paris my home as well.

So tell me more about that your life-changing decision back in the 2012…

Back in 2012, I was working in ELLE Decoration magazine as an editorial assistant, which was my first real job after finishing high school. I loved that, but I thought that I was missing something in my life, some excitement, perhaps. As I always wanted to live abroad, I told myself ‘let’s try this for a couple of months and see what happens’. To tell the truth, I didn’t think that I’d leave Sweden permanently, it was supposed to be my ‘get-out-of-my-sistem’ and ‘clear-my-head’ move. For beginnings, I decided to leave this job and for that everybody around me thought I was crazy! I moved for 4 months to Paris and when these months had passed, I got back to Sweden. But then I couldn’t forget Paris so in January 2013 I moved back. I don’t like to say ‘permanently’, I came here and I don’t know yet how long I will be staying (laughs).

Tell me, what do you do once this romantic and exciting period of acknowledging the fact that you’ve made such a huge change in your life passes and reality hits you? What kind of steps did you take that led you to the place that you are right now?

I wouldn’t surprise you by saying that it was hard. When I came here, I’d just broken up with my boyfriend after six years of being together, so I was heartbroken and spent much of my time crying. I was really debating whether or not I should stay, if it’s going to be too difficult for me to keep up, all kinds of stuff like this. It wasn’t a very smooth start to my career here, for sure. In the end, I decided to stick with it and try to do my best. I interned here in one showroom during the fashion week, where I sorted clothes, dressed models. It was such kind of job where you don’t earn any money at all, but I just wanted to get inside of the industry and see what it was like. After that, I took a job as an editorial assistant for websites. During all this time I also had my blog and Instagram going but I didn’t look at them as a way to earn money. I did it only for myself and then very slowly people started commenting and more people started getting in contact. I always loved taking photos but I never thought that I could actually do it as my profession; I never really thought, “I want to be a photographer and I want to do social media”, I just sort of did it and everything developed into this… It’s crazy when I think about it!

When did you have your first major career moment here? The one after which you thought ‘Wow, I’m really making it here!’

To be honest, I still don’t feel like that! The first major thing was probably a friendship with Nicole Warne from Gary Pepper Girl. Back in 2013, we started commenting back and forth on each other’s Instagrams and blogs, and when she came to Paris she suggested meeting and hanging out. We did some photo-shoots together, and that was probably the first time that I properly shot a model wearing the clothes instead of photographing only clothes. Later we stayed in contact and she asked me to come to fashion month in September so we did New York, London, Milan and Paris together. That was the best learning experience and it was precisely then that I decided it was something that I wanted to do. I know a lot of girls think that this industry is very glamorous and nice and everybody’s very sweet, which is not the case. It’s actually a very tough industry and you really really really have to love what you do to succeed. I think I got my first very serious project at Gucci and that was the moment when I had to pinch myself. I don’t really remember when exactly it was but later Dior reached out to me and asked me to come to the show and after the show they suggested to collaborate. You see, I never really thought “one day I want to work for Dior or Cartier”, it’s just a result of my love for what I do and I think it shines through. It’s a longer story than that, but it’s basically the most important things (laughs).

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photo: Nadia Gric

What are the most challenging things while working with the globally renowned brands as Dior and others?

The most important thing is to get along with people. I’m very lucky that I’ve had countless opportunities to work with amazing people that now we’re friends with, but, of course, there are always people who aren’t that welcoming. I remember being sad after so many jobs because I really don’t have a thick skin and usually I take things personally. Sometimes it’s just impossible not to pay attention so that can be really tough. Moving on to other challenges, very often people, usually photographers and others working in creative fields, think that they’re going to be able to do whatever they want and express themselves however they want, which is not always true. The main priority is to satisfy the client who has a final say on things. On the other hand, I feel that these are ‘luxurious’ kinds of problem to have at work.

Which project or journey is the most fascinating to date?

In terms of projects, the work I’ve done for Dior is something that I’ll never ever forget. It was so incredible to be a part of that but it was also a huge amount of responsibility and stress – I’d never been so scared of not performing well in my life but that made me push myself so much further. I’m forever grateful for Dior giving me this opportunity. Our collaboration took place a couple of years ago and I think Women’s Wear Daily wrote the first article acknowledging the fact that brands are starting to work with Instagram people to create content and they mentioned me and Dior. When the brand reached out to me it wasn’t so normal to let a person from Instagram take all photos of a world-renowned fashion house and it’s very cool to have been a part of it from the very beginning! Concerning travels, Morocco where I went with Cartier this summer was one of the most – I don’t even know how to describe it – extravagant journey. It was once in a lifetime experience – we were shooting in 46 degrees! (laughs).

You’re one of those people who have risen thanks to a social media. Are you comfortable being placed in the blogger/influencer category that still has negative connotations sometimes?

Absolutely! I think we must stop seeing this as something negative. Let’s be honest, of course there are people who label themselves as influencers and actually do nothing. As in every profession, there are those who do the job very well and also those who do the job very poorly; that doesn’t apply only for bloggers. People have a tendency to look down on us because they think it’s so glamorous to sip coffee and take photos of it. Of course, there are girls who do this this way, everyone does it differently, but for me it’s so much more than just being a blogger. At the end of the day, when you list what you’re doing, you see that you’re doing production, post-editing, retouching, business management, finances, marketing for yourself, branding, if you have an assistant, you’re also managing other people in your business, you’re writing, you’re the creative director of everything…You’re wearing so many hats at the same time. It’s sad that people have so many unjustified prejudices but I feel that they’re starting to change their minds about this – right now, there are many people who are fortunate enough to make a living out of blogging so they must be doing something, I guess (laughs).

Recently I read a very interesting article in Vogue about the influencers and there was this one particular remark that caught my attention: affirmation, shared by this new generation of social-media mavens themselves, that they’re having addiction to their phones, sometimes to such extents they can’t literally live without it. How do you deal with this intensity and obligation to be connected all the time?

I don’t feel this kind of anxiety at all and now I feel so unprofessional for saying this! (Laughs). I’ve always said that I’ll do this job for as long as I find that it gives me pleasure. For me, it’s absolutely essential to be able to disconnect. There are times, for example, fashion weeks when I have to be online all the time because it’s my job, but I also like to spend time with a boyfriend or friends and not look at my phone at all, so I turn off all the notifications and just relax.

Would you agree that it’s highly improbable to maintain relationships while doing a job like this?

Well, I’m not the best person to ask, as I’m not in a relationship anymore (laughs), but I think is that you have to find the right person. I believe that in a relationship you’re supposed to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. I want to be with someone who supports me 210% and I could do the same to him as well. Not seeing your beloved one for a month or three months can be tough but there are people who support each other so much in their career choices that they learn to navigate it through. I also believe that it’s good to separate your personal and professional life, I don’t know if I’d like to have my boyfriend by my side 24/7, being involved with my blog, taking photos, which is very often the case for other bloggers. I’ve travelled before with boyfriends for work but I like to do my own thing on my own terms. In addition, it’s very hard to find a person who understands your life because it’s a very modern profession, you still need to deal with such questions as ‘so what do you do?’ and it’s hard to explain for those who are not in the industry.

Let’s talk about fashion weeks. Do you love them or do you dread them?

Both, and I think anyone in this industry would understand me. It’s definitely the most exciting time during the year, because there are so many things happening at the same time, but it’s also incredibly stressful. For me, working in fashion weeks means attending shows and presentations, but also meetings with people who are in town. I usually have the shoots scheduled at the same time, often with live delivery, which means that photos have to deliver the same day, which makes things very stressful. Then you want to catch up with friends, also simultaneously organize your projects and schedule things after the fashion week. But then again, it’s a good kind of stress to have. As freelancers, we’re never forced to do anything; we just do it because we love it. Even if I complain to my friends during these busy weeks, they know that deep in my heart I love all of that and wouldn’t be doing it otherwise.

How did you change personally during these four years?

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s because of Paris, my jobs, relationships, friends or it’s just a natural development, but I never felt stronger as a person before as I do today. I mean, bad things and comments still have influence on me, I’m not saying as if I’m made from steel, but there’s so much more. I’ve always had a problem with confidence and not believing in myself, that’s something I’m really working on but it gets better and better.

What do you miss the most about Sweden?

My family, for sure. I’m happy that I have only a few hours on the plane and I can see them. I also love how well organized everything is in Stockholm. Paris can be a little bit tough city with all its bureaucracy, paperwork, and when I go back to my hometown, I’m always shocked to see how smoothly everything goes. But then again, Paris has so many pros… That’s why I’m staying (laughs).

And what do you like the most about Paris?

I love the atmosphere the city has. I love the history, the culture, the fact that people take the time to enjoy their life – what shocked me the most was that people can buy a cake for dessert at Tuesday all for themselves (we don’t spoil ourselves like that in Sweden). That’s kind of mentality I really like. I also find fascinating that people sit and read in parks in the middle of the day. At the same time, I think that this feeling can be created in any place you’re happy in, it’s not only Paris. It’s the new energy this city has given me and the relationships that are the most important. If there was one thing I’d want people to apply for themselves from my story is that anybody can do it as well which doesn’t translate as ‘You can go to Paris’, it means you can change the direction of your life. I just gave up everything what was secure and took a huge leap of faith, and I believe anybody can do that.

So, for anyone who wants to change their life and move to another place – what do you think are the most important things to know before doing that?

It’s not such a big decision as you think it is! It sounds weird, but it really isn’t. There’s something that my mom told me that sort of changed everything: She said ‘Well if you don’t like it, you will just make a new decision’ and that made everything so much simpler. I asked myself why am I here panicking about everything? If I won’t like Paris, I can just change it. It goes with so many things in life; you’re the one making decisions and if you’re in a situation you don’t like, just do something about it. There are so many people who think that if they make a certain decision they’ll never be able to turn around, like THIS IS IT. But it’s not.

Lithuanian readers can find the interview in the newest issue of L’Officiel Mada

H&M Studio S/S 2017: First look

With so many seismic shifts changing the landscape of fashion for the past several seasons, there aren’t any doubts that we’re entering a new epoch where absolutely all the traditional, rigid rules are being unmercifully shattered: What models do we want to see on the stage? What kind of attitude do we want designers to have regarding the customers? What kind of clothes do we want to wear? How? And, most importantly, when?

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H&M Studio S/S17 backstage. Photo courtesy of H&M

Yesterday the fashion giant H&M presented a collection which marked an important milestone for them in many ways: it was the first one including the ensembles both for women and men and it was also the first show following the famous “See Now Buy Now” concept, which means that immediately after the demonstration the guests could shop entire looks from a special pop-up store. Which also means that you can do the same in H&M stores all around the world. It’s exciting to know that you don’t have to wait for  6 months to buy that special thing you loved on the runway, isn’t it? (even though I have to say I’m really interested to see how the rest of the fashion industry is going to adapt to this new strategy…)

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H&M Studio S/S17 backstage. Photo: courtesy of H&M
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Pop up store. Photo courtesy of H&M

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Having joined the H&M family as the representative of H&M Lithuania, I was absolutely fascinated by the show: The collection was sending a really strong and positive message, embodied not only by the written “LOVE” motif which was recurrent in many ensembles, but also by the whole atmosphere, starting from the venue (tennis club turned into a huge light room with bucolic details) finishing with the way models adopted and presented their looks.  People were going crazy seeing models walk the runway in such a nonchalant and cheerful manner! As for the clothes, they celebrated the soft, romantic sides of femininity and masculinity, and the way Pernilla Wohlfart and Andreas Lowenstam chose to incarnate these ideas was simple, but original and unconventional at the same time: Oversized silhouettes, see-through materials, ruffles on the garments which are usually used for making sport clothes, minimalistic four-shade-only color palette (consisting of black, white, fuchsia and moss green) – everything was true to the spirit of the brand and true to the spirit of our times. One of the main concerns of designers is to stay relevant season after season, and H&M does it with such an ease and effortlessness!

Here are some of my favorite runway looks (I have to say I especially loved the fuchsia ensembles, I don’t know what’s happening between pink and me these days!):

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The show was crowned by a surprise performance from The Weeknd (!!!), followed by an exclusive pop-up store, DJ show and… great food (I ate the sweetest eclair of my life –  such pastry filled with caramel at midnight time was a really heavy sin, but soo worth it!) H&M certainly knows how to party, right?

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STUDIO BON

Stephane Feugère

This was also my look for the collection (loved the Photobooth effect the photographers developed):

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This is only a first part on H&M. Exclusive interviews with Parnilla Wohlfart and Andreas Lowenstam as well as more insights into the collection are coming soon in L’Officiel Lithuania magazine and later on my blog!

Style diaries: Paris in pink

I’ve noticed that recently my attention has been gravitating towards romantic, sweet, even infantile styles and details, such as pink color, flowing fabrics, glitter – this mysterious interest inspired me to write an article on Barbie/princess image quite widely represented on spring-summer 2017 runways (make sure you read it here). I’m always fascinated by the way designers choose to represent femininity and how extremely different their visions can be, but during years I’ve discovered that despite a little bit of controversy or even judgement surrounding the pink color, it can be considered a constant, irreplaceable game player in this never ending quest of sweetness and so-called “femininity”. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of pink color and I’d rarely opt for its bright version, but I do adore its subtle iterations, especially blush pink tone.

This weekend in Paris was clearly an early spring promise. All the blue skies, singing birds, seagulls in the horizon put me in a very cheerful and romantic mood. I chose one of my favorite springtime dresses with very beautiful flower motifs and matched it with my warm pink coat to protect myself from strong winds, the only reminders of a chilly winter’s presence. I also make my own transition to spring mode by switching the practical black winter bag into another color, so I opted for a faded, pale rose-toned one which I carry with me every warm season.

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Can I also note how perfect these locations are? Pont des Arts may not be the most attractive bridge in the city, but it gives a very beautiful look over the Seine river and Institut de France, which is definitely an Instagram-worthy building. In addition, on the other side of the bridge you instantly enter the Cour carré, a grandiose place inside of the whole Louvre ensemble. I’m not sure that many of you have heard of it, and that’s the biggest paradox: it’s a completely open space, but usually it’s… tourist-free (or I’m really lucky to visit it when it’s practically empty!) Every time I’m there, I’m enchanted by the monumentality of the whole ensemble and surrounding buildings. And just a stone’s throw away we can find one of the longest streets in Paris, a picturesque Rue de Rivoli… During Paris Fashion Week, this street is definitely one of the busiest: A lot of action takes place there and it’s very likely to get a glimpse of someone famous! Last year, completely caught up in the whole fashion week craziness, I spent so much time in Tuileries garden and this street just absorbing all the beautiful images, people, outfits and styles changing in front of me. Can’t wait to experience it all over again the next week!

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Outfit details:
Coat by Pierre Cardin
Dress by Pepe Jeans
Bag by Michael Kors
Shoes by Kenzo

You look like a Barbie and it’s (not) bad

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Elie Saab spring/summer 2017. Source: vidapress

Picture a scene: you see a woman opening the doors of a café with one assured gesture, transmitting the sense of excessive self-confidence even from the distance. She winks her eye flirtatiously to a waiter and chooses the sunniest table, where the sunrays could fall on her flawless face. Then asks for a cup of tea or coffee and takes out a mini mirror from her bag just to check how her glittery lips are looking (if you had to choose the most attiring detail of her outfit, it would definitely be these lips). Her hair is tied in two whimsical braids and her dress immediately grabs the eye because of its billowing silhouette and soft pink color. The mini bag is accessorized with several fluffy charms. Of course, high heels marked with colorful stripes are not any less impressive. And just in case you thought I was describing a little girl – no, she’s not twelve or thirteen years old. She’s an adult. It’s possible that if you saw a woman dressed from head to toes in tiger prints, you’d be more willing to label her “stylish” than this strange example. However, there’s one subtle nuance. This woman was stylish enough to walk down Fendi runway. Or to be more precise, legendary fashion house created this woman themselves and suggested that we follow her example.

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Fendi spring/summer 2017. Source: vidapress

This notion of “Barbie image” has exclusively negative associations. Things that pop into our heads as soon as we hear these two words usually are these: Excess of pink, inappropriately short clothes, glittery fabrics, long nails, peroxide hair, a small puppy in a handbag… In terms of food, it’s an overdose of sugar. All of it sounds so sweet you might even throw up. Not a single woman who considers herself stylish or elegant will ever allow herself look “like a Barbie”, because it’s an obvious sign of a poor taste, sometimes even a symbol of vulgarity. Nonetheless, every season designers more or less play with this theme and challenge themselves in this tight rope walk between sweet cuteness and looking “cheap”. For this spring/summer, however, the creators wrapped this “plastic” Barbie style in subtle, fairytale-worthy layers. It’s quite a new way to approach this image. The afore-mentioned Fendi fashion house presented romantic and light ensembles together with eye-popping accessories, but the result looks probably quite better than you imagined while reading the introduction.

At Moschino, the paper-doll parade reigned supreme: Jeremy Scott created ironic dresses which looked as if taken out from coloring books, where you can just cut the clothes you want and stick on a doll. At Rodarte, the it-dress of the season was definitely the glitzing red one with pompous shoulders. All of these examples characterize the trend that I’ve already evoked for several times in my articles. The so-called maximalism insists that more is more and more is definitely better. And we’re talking about the daily wardrobe here, so when an occassion to dress up comes, the formula “less is more” is practically forgotten. That’s why clothes are ornated with cute, sometimes even infantile motives of butterflies, flower blooms, and especially loads of glitter or other glistening details. They’re everywhere – not only on clothes, but also on handbags, shoes and… lips. This trend is entering the beauty sphere so that it could challenge the usual notions of what is considered to be beautiful and elegant. Recently, the beauty editor of ELLE UK Sophie Beresiner made an experiment and spent an evening with glitzy lips. The results were astonishing: Men and even women ran after her to tell compliments. Beauty specialists encourage us not to be afraid to adorn eyelids, cheeks or even ears with glitters. Everything depends from the effect you want to create.

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Rodarte spring/summer 2017 backstage. Source: vidapress

This style encompasses all the other smaller trends that have been at the zeitgeist for some seasons, such as glitzy tiaras, pink color, extravagant accessories. It’s not easy to explain this seemingly irrational penchant for princess clothes, but it’s evident that it’s not only a response to a destabilizing current political, social and economical situation, but also to feminist discussions concerning the way a strong modern woman looks. One of the examples is the slogan T-Shirt designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri for her debut at Dior: “We should all be feminists”. Model with this T-Shirt also wore a romantic tulle maxi skirt.

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Dior spring/summer 2017 backstage. Source: vidapress

Woman’s strength can’t be defined by clear and rigid rules; She doesn’t need to wear masculine clothes to look powerful. It seems to be the main message that the designers are sending. They also insist that tenderness, delicacy, softness which is sometimes identified as infantile “Barbie style” doesn’t translate weakness, so they suggest that women start following their instincts and inner wishes without contemplating too much about stereotypes associated with certain styles. Even if a childhood dream to dress like a princess arises, you don’t need to wait for your wedding or any other very special occasion to dress like that. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you have to recreate sweet style from head to toes – sometimes all you need are small details to sprinkle on your daily uniform to make it more cheerful. Talking about other characteristics of “plastic Barbie style”, evoked in the beginning of the article… Don’t worry. Being “plastic” still doesn’t have anything in common with good taste, no matter how contradictory this notion can be.

Lithuanian readers can find this article in here.

Style diaries: Hometown getaway

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This week I spent some very beautiful and cozy days in my hometown Vilnius. It was very nice to take a pause from studying and work to realize some projects I’ve been thinking about for some time already. One of them was to start writing about lifestyle topics (because sometimes I do need a break from serious interviews and fashion analysis and I have so many ideas for this, so wait for it!) Another one was to start Style diaries, which is exactly what I’m doing right now – I’ve actually never done this before but I’m so eager to experiment with all the possibilities this website gives me. Up until now I’ve been avoiding absolutely anything that involves talking about my own preferences (even when choosing topics for articles, I usually tend to explain something I’m not really into; It’s much more exciting than writing about something you really like) so my goal right now is to bring some more personal elements to my blog by showcasing my own take on fashion and trends.

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The very first photos for my new venture were taken on Lithuania’s Independence day (background full of flags proves it) – I couldn’t be more prouder of my country which is celebrating its 99th birthday despite its troubling, difficult, even deeply traumatizing history.  Every time I come back from Paris, I always spend some time walking down my favorite streets in the old town, rich of details telling stories from distant times. Even though the weather here doesn’t spell spring yet, I opted for a quite minimalistic outfit in blue tones, finally incorporating my previously discussed turtleneck (yes, I wear them again! – and my mom is very surprised), quite summer-ish jeans and one of the most comfortable sneakers that I’ve ever owned. To accessorize the look, a grey scarf with little shiny details and a backpack of the same color seemed to be the best options.

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Outfit details:
Coat by Marella
Turtleneck by United Colors of Benetton
Scarf by Sisley
Jeans by AJ Armani Jeans
Bag by Coccinelle
Shoes by Kenzo

Inga Sempé : designer without myths

Some words for introduction: this interview was published last year in Llamas’ Valley magazine. As some time has passed, I took advantage of the situation to present you a slightly edited version, containing more insights into this woman’s work.  This conversation is very special for me because Inga Sempé is truly someone who perfectly represents French design remaining faithful to her own principles and philosophy at the same time. I consider myself very lucky to have had a chance to enter her studio and talk with her. The photos are from designer’s personal archives and by Nadia Gric – don’t hesitate to check her works on Facebook!

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Photo by Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello

Ever since 2000, when a French designer Inga Sempé started working independently, her works have been appreciated and attributed several significant awards in the design sphere. Sixteen years have passed since her first creative steps (back then she was still doing an internship at Villa Medici academy) and a lot of things have changed during this period of time, such as the needs of society, the perception of design, but Inga’s life and design philosophy remains unchanged. This woman, whose primary concern is to design “simple, but not banal” objects, doesn’t want to draw strict boundaries between her work and private space: Creating is her natural state.

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When I first open the doors of Inga Sempé’s creative space, situated in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, it is easy to get confused trying to decide if details there reveal more about the artist’s creative processes or her daily life. She places fragrant tea on the rough surface table, and opened sketchbooks are comfortably lying nearby, as if they’ve just been looked through. Intuition is whispering that we’re at the place where all designer’s ideas are born. This is the table Inga invites us for a talk. The first impression fixed in my memory is the complete desacralization of the creating process, or, more precisely, the attempt by which Inga seeks to bring creation as close to our daily life as possible. It is proven not only by the attitude of the designer, but also by her surroundings. Once she’s asked what the notion of creativity evokes for her, she muses: “When people are talking about creativity, they often assume some kind of magical things are involved. This is why, in my opinion, creativity is a little bit stupid word, especially in the French language. It’s used too often and too imprecisely. It can create an illusion that the whole world is creative. It’s not like that, one has to work to be creative”.

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The parents’ example has had a huge influence for how Inga’s creative space looks like – she’s a daughter of two illustrators. Having seen what it means to live and work in the same environment from an early age, Inga admits that notion of the office doesn’t exist in her vocabulary. “I remember that at some point in my infancy I was greatly fascinated by one boy, whose father was a director”, Inga laughs and adds that the world of directors and employees is distant to her up until now. Parent’s lessons serve also as the foundation for her aesthetical understanding. “Both of my parents were really strong aesthetes. They belong to the art world, where everything is based on very strict rules of good taste. I used to hear them complaining about such things, which would probably sound unreasonable for others, but they’re very important for me. For example, “This copy is really badly printed” or “this red shade is not as good as the other one, this should be a little bit lighter”. Inga also recalls that she would constantly see her parents drawing, so that naturally encouraged her creative abilities – parents never told her to stop drawing and start doing something else instead.

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Currently Inga is creating mostly for Italian, Swiss and Danish companies. She doesn’t hide her fascination for Italian culture, where she finds more opportunities to express herself. “Jean Cocteau has said that Italians are French people, only in a good mood (laughs). I think that’s true. I love creating for Italy – I couldn’t realize a big part of my commands in France, which meanwhile are perfectly suitable for Italians. The thing I like about Italy the most is that design solutions are more orientated towards daily life, thinking about the constant needs. Meanwhile in France designers are more concerned with the luxury sector.” In her opinion, this direction is a reaction to the needs of Asian and Russian markets, but, talking in her words, it’s a pity that very often real luxury is confused with “caricature-worthy versions of luxury”. “Of course, objects of luxe can reveal impeccable skills of working with a material, indicate the highest level of quality, but very often luxury is just an aesthetical code concerned with classical style. This sounds boring for me”, she adds. Asked about her own aesthetical codes, Inga reveals that in her opinion, the most important thing for a designer is to be practical. “Functionality should be the main priority for a designer. Otherwise he creates objects that do not function and therefore have no utility. The appearance of an object and its characteristics should define in what way and where he’s going to be used. If that’s not the case, it will only serve as a decoration, and that’s the art’s territory.”

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This philosophy is clearly observable in Inga’s designs. While holding one of her designs, Inga insists that lamps are her favorite objects to create. “Cappuccina” model is distinct for its lightness and versatility – the lamp can be tilted in different directions, fixed on the wall or transformed in any other way. In addition, whimsical design attracts the eye – the shade is of sky-blue color with little purple dots. Inga brings this model as a response to the question, which is the work she’s mostly proud of. “I really enjoy designing lamps. It’s completely opposite with the sofas – I’ve designed lots of them, but I just hate drawing them!” she laughs. Sofas and lampas aside, Inga is not afraid to design other kinds of objects. One of the examples is the cutlery collection “Collo-alto”, created for Italians. With this collection, the woman sought to create funny and contrasting cutlery, concentrating all the attention on the shapes. The language of contrasts is evident in the forms that forks, knifes and spoons take. Extremely narrow and long transition part connects untraditionally wide top and bottom parts. Among other productions of Inga, there are rugs (“Meteo” collection is a new interpretation of Persian rugs), boxes, clocks, chairs, beds.

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In one of her previous interviews, Inga expresses her wish for a design to be perceived as a discipline, and not style. When I ask her how the understanding of design has changed during all the years she has worked, she gets lost in thought: “No matter how bizarre this might sound, but when I was a student, nobody knew what was design. There was no explanation of this notion. Now the situation is better, but design is still being confused with decor, architecture. Another thing which creates the mess while talking about design, is that people draw the line between design and no-design judging purely by the quality. All things which are produced belong to the design sphere, even if they look horrible.” She also insists that design is not “criteria of a quality or form, it’s the process of creating a certain object to be used later”. What changes can we expected soon? Inga talks modestly about her expectations, but expresses a wish for French companies to understand that working with designers is a priority. “Very often, especially during the crises, companies come up with strategies which leave designers behind. It’s different in Italy – they’re conscious that the first thing they should do while having financial difficulties is to concentrate on good design”.

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Before finishing our talk, it’s quite interesting for me to ask a very simple, obvious, but intriguing question – why does Inga create? She thinks for a while and then responds that the most important thing for her is to interest herself. “If I’m bored, I can’t do anything. I always have to prove for myself that I’m capable of creating something interesting. I create things that appeal to me, and this is not easy. I do think that every designer is creating for himself, not for others. Even if certain of them would disagree, creation is first and foremost the process, during which you prove to yourself that you can create.”

What beautiful and sustainable fashion looks like

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Source: H&M

Let’s admit that sustainable fashion is still quite an obscure term, shrouded in mystery and stamped with uncertainty. Even though this environment-responsible philosophy of consumption emerged in the late eighties, it’s probably only in the past few years that designers have become widely aware of the pollution fashion industry causes and are challenging themselves to engage in the right ways to produce and present their creations. And by right I mean not only making sure the production process doesn’t have any harmful impact on the environment, but also showing respectful treatment to industry workers and setting an example for other companies and future generations.

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Source: H&M

This week, a meaningful initiative by H&M was presented to its worldwide audience: the new Conscious Exclusive collection made from recycled shoreline waste. It doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, but once you see an ethereal, floor-skimming and awe-inspiring dream plissé gown from BIONIC® (for those not initiated: It’s a recycled polyester born from, yes, the already mentioned shoreline waste) worn by iconic Russian model Natalia Vodianova, one cannot continue thinking ecological materials are an obstacle to produce luxurious and beautiful clothes (who even said that?) The collection, available in the stores from April 20, won’t be limited to womenswear or menswear: Clothes for kids and fragrance are also included so socially responsible habits are promoted in different spheres. This collection is all about shattering existing stereotypes concerning sustainable materials and the difficulties that surround the production.

Bearing in mind that fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters, such collections should actually become a norm. At the time, they’re still garnering attention mainly because of their exclusivity. If more and more companies were to follow, it could seriously revolutionize the way we consume fashion. The role of celebrities and influencers shouldn’t also be neglected: Just remember Emma Watson, wearing a Calvin Klein dress made from recycled plastic bottles in Met Gala 2016. It should be reminded that ecological approach to fashion is not only the designers’ but also customers’ responsibility: we’re used to hearing we shouldn’t buy too much because: a) most of the things bought spontaneously won’t be ever worn, b) we lose our money and it’s not economical to behave this way, c) we don’t really ned a lot of things to create an exceptional style, but… the argument of doing harm for nature by buying irresponsibly is still quite rarely evoked.