#EXCLUSIVE: Alexis Mabille

A native of Lyon, Alexis Mabille developed a passion for style and fashion at a very early age. Later, he worked at the houses of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent before founding his own house-brand which quickly became renowned for the designer’s modern rendering of the traditional bow tie.
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Paris, January 2020 | Sotheby’s Paris headquarters | Dita Von Teese opening Alexis Mabille’s show | Haute Couture SS20 Carte Blanche Collection | Photos: Courtesy of Alexis Mabille

Today, Alexis Mabille is a an official member of the Fédération française de la Couture, and the house has become known for light, fluid and precise cuts, a heritage the designer acquired through his training at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne. Borrowing from a very French sensibility, the Mabille style offers a highly contemporary, cosmopolitan allure.

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Alexis Mabille | Photo: Julie Trannoy

Whether playing with traditional codes, giving silhouettes a savvy twist or mixing different eras Alexis Mabille cultivates a spirit that is at the same time chic and fun-loving. In lifting from both masculine and feminine styles, Mabille revisits men’s and women’s wardrobes alike. Elegance and a natural casual attitude come together with a sporty-chic attitude. Graphic lines structure the looks, while movement suggests sensuality.

Translating the Parisian "bourgeois with a twist” spirit, his collections pay homage to fundamentally French references. Alexis Mabille is a part of France’s living heritage.


Tanja Beljanski: How would you describe the beauty of the haute couture?

Alexis Mabille: The beauty of the haute couture is being free from marketing and conventions, expressing your creativity in order to make women beautiful, every season surprising my loving clients who follow me since the beginning, and working with the best materials and artisans we have in France.

TB: What has changed in haute couture world since you made your official debut
at Paris haute couture week in 2008?

AM: A lot has changed since 2008, so I was excited of course to develop exclusive wardrobes, but I couldn’t expect so much joy by doing Haute Couture every season. I built my business and team and trained my own atelier as I know about cutting and sewing clothes which makes a difference since I am very precise about craftsmanship. Even if the world and consummation changes, the rules in HC didn’t really move. I have very faithful clients. Besides, a new kind of clientele discovered it as an art and sometimes collect it in that way.

TB: Translating the Parisian "bourgeois with a twist” spirit, your collections pay homage to "fundamentally French references”.

AM: In fact it is very ME. I discovered through the seasons that I was translating my own taste and lifestyle in my collections. My personal culture and French heritage come when I am drawing. We have the luck in our country to have such a rich culture, but when I speak about tradition and bourgeoisie I want to say I live in my époque, and what I call a twist is the way my youth vibrations and ideas meet my references and culture - this makes my Style. With the international press who every time say my style is so French, I discovered that my work is very French and I totally agree! (he smiles) Even more for me it is an attitude and way to be very French.

TB: What are some of your favorite traditional French couture techniques that you are proud of in your designs?

AM: What I love the most in haute couture is the “flow” work which needs a lot of care and delicacy: all the piping finishing in satin are very thin and done by hand (one season a dress was 230 meters of the same finishing!), and all the organza “rongé” technic which makes the finishings so light; almost invisible. And of course the lace art work of incrustation that we do very well at the atelier.

TB: Your clothes is very romantic, elegant and feminine. Your style is more hautecouture than pret-a-porter. How did you discover your style?

AM: In fact it is more Haute Couture which came to me. I started with ready to wear and then we started to be in contact with big clients. This is how I got to think about presenting my first show during Haute Couture Fashion Week mixing RTW and Haute Couture. I developed couture due to the great success of the ready to wear collections. You can say my style is more Haute Couture as in couture we do a lot of ceremony dressing, but in fact we do too tuxedos or more daily pieces for clients. And for RTW today the idea is really to make the exclusive capsules for good shops we work with, with a couture feeling but softer prices for a clientele who can not buy Haute Couture.

TB: What inspires you in your work?

AM: Everything is part of my inspiration! I love going to the galleries to see contemporary art, but I also love antique paintings and museums. I am crazy about the art books! And I love interior design, too. So all those informations, not only fashion, are nourishing my brain when it is time to draw a dress or a full collection. It is the most exciting part of the job; a digestion of mind, desires, culture and “today lifestyle” which make me very creative.

TB: You have been creatively busy since the very young age. What does creativity
mean to you?

AM: Creativity means being free to assume my ideas and using them in my creations to make people feel it and create a crush with them.

TB: Please take us through your haute couture design process and client/designer experience.

AM: The process is very traditional. First of all I draw a lot, maybe more than hundreds sketches for each season, with which I want to express the ideas for the fall or summer, and I do an editing to keep the best. Then I look for the fabrics and materials to match the best with my idea. It is like being an architect - to get the right volume or movement you need the right fabric. After I brief my tailors team to make the magic happen, the drawing becomes reality as a pattern. Thank we do fittings until it is exactly how I love it and feel it. At this stage I sometimes change a lot the outfit as it is in 3D and express what I want. The new ideas can come from the draping moment on the model. Then the Haute Couture Atelier starts to make the pieces and we launch all the embellishments, if we have some, with the great artisans who know how to do feathers, silk paint, embroideries, etc. At last we fit the dresses for the show on the models before they go on the runway. With the clients, it’s almost the same.

The client looks at the collections, sometimes the archives, and expresses what she loves. I also design special creations for her if she wants to have a unique piece well adapted for her event.

When the drawing is chosen, we do a fitting in Paris, or in her country and then we make the dress in the right material and fit again until the dress is ready for delivery. It is a very intimate moment between me and my clients.

TB: You are very popular with the women who love French chic. Which countries are your biggest markets?

AM: My biggest market is Arabia; then it is spread from Europe to Russia and America and Asia.

TB: What was on your mood board for the Carte Blanche SS20 Haute Couture collection?

AM: A Carte Blanche! I wanted to be free to do whatever I want in volumes, technics attitudes, and the white color was keeping in line all those silhouettes. My mood board was a lot about details of drapes, embroideries, shades of white and textures.

I wanted it all to be white to show to clients the silhouette like a coloring book - it is white and then together in the showroom we can decide about doing it emerald, or pale blue, or red, or in a print. This is really how we play together with the clients.

TB: If you had to pick a movie or a book character that best represents the Alexis Mabille woman who would it be?

AM: Katherine Hepburn for her boyish attitude but with an incredible glamour. Or Hedy Lamarr for her hieratic attitude and elegance.

Dita Von Teese introducing my Carte Blanche show as a directrice de la couture was really a mix of those two icons in the black sequins tuxedo.

TB: How do you feel about being a part of France’s living heritage?

AM: I am truly honored about it! First of all I was honored when I became the official member or the small group of Haute Couture Houses. It means a lot for the craftsmanship and creativity. I worked hard to get to this level for my clients. And second round was when I received the Ordre des Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the Ministry of Culture. It is always good to know the state likes your work.

TB: What do you still want to achieve?

AM: A lot! I am still young and I have so many ideas and desires for my brand. I’d love to be creative director for another brand in the same time to express another facet of my creativity. And I love interior design and created my interior design company few years ago called “BEAU BOW”.

TB: What advice would you give to those who would like to follow in your footsteps?

AM: They have to be themselves and to be confident in their creativity. So many people are sometimes rude to us, and it is important to follow your desires.

TB: What are some books or movies that you'd recommend?

AM: With the confinement in France I spent a lot of time watching the movies I couldn’t watch before as time was always busy. And I have bought great art books about interior design like the ones about Jean-Michel Frank, Dagobert Peche and René Lalique. I saw “Ziegfeld Girls” movie which is absolutely crazy for costumes with Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner - it was a tip from Dita Von Teese. I also loved “Auntie Mame” - a funny story from America in the late 50’s. I read “Au Temps du Boeuf sur le Toit” from Maurice Sachs as it speaks about Dada period and Surrealism which birth in the emblematic place I redecorated and just opened in March.

The story “Very French - Alexis Mabille” by Tanja Beljanski first appeared in the September 2020 issue of L'Officiel Arabia.

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