Roland Mouret

On Wednesday 19 June, Founder & Director of Arcadia Missa, Rózsa Farkas led a conversation with French fashion designer, Roland Mouret. Rózsa and Roland spoke about how he first knew he was destined to be a designer, how he aims to make women feel empowered through fashion and his plans on how to make fashion more sustainable, including his launch of the very first sustainable clothes hanger! Read on for highlights of the conversation..

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Roland on when he first knew he was destined to be a designer.. 

My father was a butcher and wanted me to be a butcher too. I was seven and the butcher’s apron was on the floor like a long evening dress. When it gets really dirty you have to fold it and tuck it round the back and it becomes this amazing asymmetry of the clean side and the dirty side. I didn’t go to school to learn how to be a fashion designer, my talent was always in my hands and it started with the butcher’s apron.

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Roland on how he hopes to empower women through fashion..

Most of the time when a woman comes into the store she will be in the wrong skin to try on an outfit. She will never be in the skin of the woman, she will be in the skin of the mum or the wife or the businesswoman. It’s amazing when you push a woman to go back into her own skin and say this moment and this outfit is for you. For years, I’ve heard “This outfit is too good for me” and I always says “It is just fabric! It’s nothing”. That notion of putting yourself down is starting to disappear. There is no longer this need to apologise for being a woman. 

Roland on how the ‘Me Too’ movement has informed his work..

I have been lucky to do things that allowed me to dress women without feeling like I’m using or objectifying them. I’m really happy to make what some people call ‘sexy’ clothes but to make it like a uniform. I never to try to make women the object of my creativity, they have never been that. I always make sure the woman is the partner of my work. Most of the time I am the servant of her, I give her a service through clothes. 

Roland on the importance of keeping his creativity alive whilst running a company..

Roland Mouret is a business, it has 100 employees and it’s a company that produces 6 collections a year. There are moments of creativity when I take a square of fabric, because I don’t draw, and I start to drape the fabric. I try to define that relationship between a square and a curve. The moment I can do half an hour of draping, that’s my creative moment. Most of the time when you are not sure about the design, that is when you have to go for it because in six months’ time it will be so right. If it is right now, it is wrong because you are playing it too safe. I get the same feeling now as twenty years ago when I drape an outfit, it is absolutely amazing. It is that moment when I am safe in my creative world. 

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Roland on creating his collections..

I have to create very far in advance. Doing six collections a year and predicting a year in the future is very hard. I have to predict not just the way people are going to dress but their emotional state, especially now with the social and political situation. How are we going to evolve and what will the transformation be in one year? What is the theme of next year? 

Roland on #WomeninMouret..

I started this project online called Women in Mouret. I find it so magical to see women reacting to my clothes. Vianney Le Caer follows women that we love who go out into the street wearing my clothes and photographs them when they are walking around in places they love. It is magical and so unique. This has given me an amazing body of work. 

Roland on creating a collection that balances masculinity and femininity..

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Is strength feminine or masculine? In French, strength is feminine but in English you traditionally define it as masculine. You have different definitions of masculine and feminine. That’s why I like to put guys in women’s jackets. There is no right or wrong. It is about what people want.

I decided to put men in the women’s collection. It was quite an interesting exercise to take five straight men and get them to wear female clothes. It was something quite amazing because the men still had the beauty of the curve on them. Their masculinity was defined by accepting their femininity. 

I made a perfume, it was based on my past and my emotion. I’d never done a perfume but I wanted the nose to be a woman. The only thing I knew was how much a perfume changes when on the skin. I ended up doing a women’s perfume that men can wear. I started with so many ingredients that I loved but then I put in one smell that I hated. I wanted to put something I hate in what I love because that is the definition of who I am. We then had to name this perfume. I decided to use the name of what I used to be called at school as a gay kid when I was bullied. My name is Mouret and there is a French name called Une Amourette, which is feminine and I was always called this as a kid. I promised myself that one day I would use that word and reclaim it. 

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Roland on sustainability in fashion..

Yesterday I was at the British Fashion Council at a big sustainable day and I was launching a product. It’s really weird to be able to be creative and to feed my creativity for life but know that part of it destroys the planet. 

We are coming out with the first sustainable hanger that goes from the factory to the shop. My job now is to make sure everyone changes to that hanger. We have to start to do it together. 

The question is will sustainability be capitalised? It is going to become a business. We can’t repeat the mistake of the industrial revolutions and go through such a big change without being aware of what we are doing from the beginning. We are paying the price of two revolutions that allowed us to grow, that fed us and gave us everything we want. 

We all have responsibilities. I have the responsibility to know what every piece of clothing is made of and what is plastic and so on. You have the responsibility to respond to it, what do you have in your wardrobe and what do you want to change. Sometimes it is really slow and the change takes a while. Already, the packaging is changing within these luxury stores. I’m trying.

Roland on his next collection and the future of fashion.. 

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I’m a pessimist who reacts with optimism. I believe that it’s going to be hard, I believe we have a chance to learn from all of this. At the moment we have to invent our future and invent what we are going to sell and to buy. I would love not to use the word ‘consumer’ anymore. We are going to lose a lot of presence around us and visuals from our childhood and they are going to disappear but we can invent other things. If invention is related to empathy, that is even better. 

Photography by Luke Fullalove.