Wednesday, February 20

retro elegance

Behind the curtain #2: conversation with Machteld van de Perre, founder and designer of Assemblé.

Favourite outfit of Machteld from the Autumn/Winter 08-09 collection
Photo: Anoek Luyten (also the business partner of Machteld)

Assemblé is a new Belgium name in European childrenswear. A small brand with a long story already that Machteld Van de Perre accepted to share with me.

It all started in the summer of 2006 when Machteld decided to give old clothes for adults a second life by recycling them into new fashions for kids. This idea sprung to her mind as she was working on traditional costumes for a music theater in Antwerp. This is how a woman skirt from the 60s & 70s got redesigned into a girl's dress or how a vintage blanket turned into a child's coat.

The brand is today sold in multibrands shops in Belgium and will probably soon make its way into the European childrenswear market.
Watch that brand carefully. It is just around the corner.

After 1 hour discussion with Machteld, it was crystal clear to me: Assemblé was Retro Elegance.
Let's go through the interview to understand who's hiding behind the curtain.

Why this brand name?
Machteld van de Perre: We wanted a name that speaks for itself. We first started with Atelier Assemblé. Atelier stood for the handmade part and Assemblé referred to the clothing reconstruction.
Our brand now consists of a main line for kids and a limited edition for adults. For the kids, we're using Assemblé and for the adults we kept the original name Atelier Assemblé as we're still producing the clothes ourselves and on demand, from the old fabrics that are not suitable for kids.

What is Assemblé style?
MvdP: It's retro but it should always be elegant.
As the fabrics strongly conveys its origin and history, I'm always searching for the right balance between the pattern, the fabric and the cut. Elegance is the key point.

What do you particularly hate in kids fashion?
MvdP: I hate all the girly pinky glittery clothes as well as everything adorned with big letters and numbers for boys.

Does your 6yo daughter influence your work?
MvdP: I'm afraid she loves everything pink, glitter and girly.

How and where do your ideas come from?
MvdP: A mix of things and places really: from fashion magazines from the 60s & 70s to films to photography and painting exhibitions.
I also often go to the fashion museum in Antwerp, the MoMu, which displays the best in Belgium design.
And I watch the streets, which is pretty inspiring.

How different is Belgium style in kids fashion from the rest of Europe?
MvdP: Belgium has a style of its own. Kids clothes could as well have been designed for adults.
The style is pretty eccentric but always refined. And Belgian designers know how to chose the right fabrics and patterns. And there's always a wide variety.

France? Beautiful but a bit boring.

Who are your favourite designers?
MvdP: Elsa Schiaparelli -she was Italian and one of the most influential clothing designers of her time. She used unusual textures and fabrics and has a very female approach to fashion design.
Martin Margiela -he is Belgian and participated to the concept of deconstruction, redesigning objects into garments. He also pays great attention to modelling.

What do you like doing when you're not working?
MvdP: I read books, go for long walks and also love to cook. But I must say I don't have that much free time these days.

What is your favourite bedtime story?
MvdP: Jonathan Franzen and Sandro Veronesi, for me.
For my daughter, I particularly like Annie M.G. Smit and Toon Tellegen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Sophie - thank you very much for the article. I am very pleased with it. I will send the blog to all me friends!
I hope we can keep contact.
Thanks again, Machteld

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