One of my favourite London based designers recently dropped by to Dubai – Roland Mouret. I had the opportunity of meeting him at Harvey Nichols after checking his new collection in store. I spoke to Roland on the region, his career and social media. Roland compared Dubai to Las Vegas and was impressed with the women here in the region. Check out the full interview below…
Roland Mouret’s collection is available at Harvey Nichols, Dubai.
Hi Roland! I heard that you just got here from Kuwait. Is it your first time in the Gulf?
Yes it is. I am really enjoying it… Especially when I look at the new generation; in their twenties. They work and are not dictated. And they are still so respectful of the values, it is really a nice surprise, a nice open eye.
You know, I grew up in Dubai and this is all very new.
It’s new to me, especially us, the western world. I can see what happens in London when people come during Ramadan and this is not the same attitude when you come here. You see something else. It is quite nice to be the foreigner and to look at the way people live. I think people should travel more.
When did you get to Dubai?
What do you think so far?
It feels like Las Vegas!
It is not as crazy though…. (laughs)
Everything looks so perfect.
It is a brand new city. So, Roland – how did you start?
The thought started in my twenties. Fashion has always been linked in my mind with the power of clothes. I was the son of a butcher and I knew straight away that my dad wanted me to be a butcher than go into fashion. But in his shop there was an apron, a long one till the floor. As a boy, looking at it was so different from all the men’s clothes. This mass of fabric was in front of me and I remember that I used to take it and fold it to create something. And I loved that from the first time.
I went to live in Paris at 20 years old. For ten years I went out, living the life and learning it. I had never been employed by someone. I was working in fashion as model, stylist, doing all the jobs. I had never really considerate to start as a fashion designer there. This is when I moved to London that the urge came to me and that I decided to jump, and this is all a journey of thoughts. What should be my goal in life? Why have I done all those jobs? I even was a music video director; I did so many jobs; most of the time during four or five years, and suddenly I realize that it was not me. And now I have been in fashion for fifteen years.
Do you still find it exciting?
I am still so surprised; but it is still the only job that I can do. There are so many doors to open and I start to question the legacy of all that. I try to understand what I am going to leave behind me. It is really like going back to my father. I realize that it is really the wright job to do. I will always stay a fashion designer, even the day I will stop.
That is so nice to hear. You have a signature style; how do you still keep that and make sure it’s fresh every season?
I think it’s because I did not learn fashion at school. I think everybody has a gift; and mine is style. I would take a piece of fabric and fold it up to something. There is a kind of communication between my hands and a piece of fabric. And I went back to the concept of the apron of my father was a square. And the square is the opposite of a curve, so how can you work around it? And that became my technique. I think people who have learnt without being somewhere has the same one. Vionet had the same, Chanel had the same. It is the moment you put the piece of fabric around the body and how close you want it or how far you want it from the body. That technique has become my signature. And now that every collection is a new movement, I take the same trip and I turn the collection around it; even if most of the people can’t see it. Every collection has that particular story linked to the other one.
How important are social media to your brand?
I am split in two because on one hand I am someone who consider that privacy is the most luxury thing; but on the other hand I totally embrace that society stand. My job is not to fight against it, it is to go with it and to open the doors before then open. Since my first collection with “Net A Porter” I have learnt so much about internet and the social media. The consequence is why don’t we go further? Can we sell a full collection through it? But I will hate it if it would come too cheap because it would kill an amazing tool.
What about the Middle East? We have such a large consumer base here; how important is the Region to your brand?
For me it is not part of the world, it is the whole world. People who can buy are everywhere. I think London in the Nineties was the first place to express that. The place where every body wanted to come. It is not about social level. For me, the world is now a big London more or less. To come here is a way to learn more about the customers. When I am in London I don’t see it anymore. And I can see here a sense of identity that I will use in my work. Here, for religious events, women need long sleeves for example. So I say to myself: “ok; longs sleeves are not boring; let’s make a nice long sleeve dress.” It was the same thing when I made the Galaxy dress.
Who is the most inspiring woman in your life? And why?
There is a woman; I won’t say she is the most, because it would put her in a higher level; but she is a woman with whom I have been working for 11 years now. She is my creative director. She is greek; long black hair. Her name is Sofia Neophitou. She is a curvy lady and she is the first one to tell me that as a woman she will not wear something shapeless. She wants to be sexy, she is married; everything was here for me to be complex: married, a child, curves, working in fashion, own her own business. She is a business woman. All that package was so complex. And that was the season I did the Galaxy and she ordered it. And that was the same pleasure when I did the Galaxy for Carmen Kass coming out. Can you imagine? You put those two women together! I was like a child. It made me so proud of my work. And I have to give her that. She is not on the top of every woman in the world but she had created a moment in my life that has defined my attitude in dressing women.
What has been your ultimate career highlight?
When the Galaxy dress came out, we were in the press everywhere. All the actresses, regardless of their size, started wearing it. And they all look like that universal woman; curved. And the good thing is that men started to say: “ouah!” Because men don’t understand fashion, especially female fashion. But there is a moment when they can get something, and they get that sensual privacy between the woman who wears it and them; especially their wives. And they said to me: ”my wife was so beautiful”. And I knew when it happened that I had created a moment between the two of them that they would remember. That is giving me so much joy, I guess this is my romantic French side.
What are you working on now?
Pre collection Autumn Winter 2014/2015; and the show for march.
I was in your show in Paris; it was beautiful and that venue was amazing.
I love that place. It is private. A lot of people were asking me if it was a hotel; but no, it is not.
I used to come there when Nina Ricci used to do their show there. I like it, it is so intimate.
I think we need everything now; the strength from a show and the swing of privacy. A brand has to be show off and private at the same time. Because customers like that. You don’t want to be all day in a cocktail dress; you are going to put a pair of jeans, taking off your high heels and wear flats. Women have that “movement in a day” and everything must exist in a brand. A brand must be able to do private events as well as a show. It is part of the process. Because if you separate everything the customer is lost. That is why I like the work of Christian Louboutin. We have the responsibility to be in the life of women who can buy our products; to exist in their life, to leave a memory in their life.