Léonie Hostettler and Marius Borgeaud are the dynamic duo behind print-heavy, colour-happy womenswear label Mal-Aimée.
Having met at the Ateliers of Geneva University of Art and Design, Hostettler and Borgeaud began their professional career together when they both joined storied house Nina Ricci under Olivier Theyskens. Now designers in their own right, the pair refuse, despite the cost, to compromise on authenticity and craftsmanship, seen in every stitch of their young label. Merging fantasy with reality, their second collection showed in Paris in March for A/W 11. Looking ahead to the future of this bright young label, i-D Online spoke with the designers about femininity, toughness and never compromising one’s vision.
How do you balance the reality and fantasy of your clothes? We keep in mind that our Prêt-à-porter has to exhale our fantasy while still connected to the luxury market and attractive to a tangible woman. We pay a lot of attention to the choice of materials and to the quality. That’s pretty hard for young designers, to offer a high level product that isn’t too expensive. Finding this balance is very hard work, as we don’t really want to make concessions on what we have in mind and that thrills us. Too many compromises would just destroy authenticity and pertinence.
Describe your aesthetic… It’s a world that oscillates between androgyny and femininity. Altogether poetic, glamorous and urban, we want our collections to navigate between sexy strength and romantic fragility.
What was your experience working in the Nina Ricci studio? What did you learn from Olivier Theyskens? It was amazing but very tough. Amazing, because we just left a Swiss fashion school and had the great opportunity of entering the reality of an old and famous luxury fashion house and at the same time working for a young and subversive art director. Tough because maybe we weren’t experienced enough at the time to face the cruelty and the jealousy that can occur in the fashion world. Still, it was a pretty crazy adventure. We started out as interns, making dyes on buttons, zippers and feathers, but quickly had the chance to work near Olivier, an all-round artist, who demands as much of himself as of his staff. He taught us the importance of taking care of each detail, however small it is, and conveyed to us a sensibility to colours and textures.
The autumn/winter collection feels quite a bit darker… We have named our new collection ‘FROG PRINCE’. The colour range and the materials used march on less reassuring grounds. The toad and dragonfly print creates a fairy, liberal spirit, disintegrating in length and delving into nude, acid and spicy colours.