MATHIEU MIRANO INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE
In only his third season to date, Mathieu Mirano is already attracting the well-deserved attention of some of the world’s most fashionable and provocatively dressed ladies. The list of his admirers includes Nicole Richie, Gabrielle Union and Lady Gaga to name just a few. Walking through his beautiful collection, I was instantly transferred into the world where possibilities were endless and innovation was the key ingredient. Immaculately cut pencil skirts, strapless gowns with intricate details, sumptuous fur coats and novelty yarn knits: everything was perfected and thought through. At such a young age, Mathieu is already a serious business-minded designer who’s taking luxury womenswear to new heights.
Irina Romashevskaya: What was the inspiration behind your namesake brand?
Mathieu Mirano: The brand is all about this second skin luxury classic silhouette vibe. We are taking the classic vibe but doing something different with it, and doing it in a very high quality, allowing a simple silhouette to be transformed into something unexpected. There is a lot that’s going into the making of the actual material and the execution, so the silhouette can remain simple. Simplicity is power, I have to say. As well as the details.
IR: What can you tell us about your Fall/Winter 2013 collection?
MM: We are pairing soft textures with these more substantial fabrics for fall: felted wool, double faced wool, leather, fur and chiffon. Everything is very geometric. We are inventing new fabrics, we are inventing new embroideries, trying to take everything to the next level. Like these chainmail inserts on top of fur, which was my commentary on the puffer jackets from North Face but in a luxury version of it. I try to make things that are simple but powerful, allowing my clothing to sing. There is a dress that seems to be everyone’s favorite, it’s covered with neoprene cubes that we cut individually by blade, so they are not all the same. It’s all engineered on sheer fabric and when worn, it looks like it’s growing out of the body. Another technique – chainmail squares on the sheer – we used in a strapless nude gown. When it’s on, it molds against the body giving it a little bit of the 20’s vibe. There is a juxtaposition between earth and machinery in all of my work, like the nude pairing with very intense chainmail. I love this paneled fox fur we created by inserting leather in between fur squares, so we can get this really geometric feel. Then we took the same fox fur, feathered it to give it lightness, and added a sheer window on one side, creating a juxtaposition between something delicate and powerful. I think knits are also a huge part of my business, and I wanted to create something really different this season, cool and quite every day. We are using a knit that looks like chain-mail, but it’s pretty soft actually. It’s a traditional Japanese yarn wrapped into a ribbon, which we showed in both silver and gold. And this is something that we are going to be exploring more next season also, working with these couture knits and taking them to the next level.
IR: How would you describe your design process?
MM: Like any other artist, we start in one place and then it goes through so many transformations. For instance, our short nude dress went through so much to get to the final stage: it was first velvet and it wasn’t working, then chiffon and leather that we have draped… If you saw all the pictures of what this was, it would’ve been it’s own collection.
IR: In your opinion, what are the key ingredients of your F/W 2013 collection?
MM: My last two collections were very earthbound, so I wanted to leave Earth and be inspired by something that I might never actually be able to experience in my lifetime, like space travel, so I decided to use meteorites. There is a man in South America who collects them. He goes into the desert in Argentina where all the meteors fall and collects the
pieces. He sent us about 8,000 meteorites of all the different sizes. We used the smaller ones that looked more like beads or sequins as opposed to actual meteorites, and were more appropriate for luxury womenswear. And as for the technique itself, we wrapped the stones in tulle, and then applied them to the skirt. So we took something organic and added the geometries to it like in the rest of the collection. You can barely see it, it’s very subtle but there’s a lot of meaning to it. And, because we used meteorites, this skirt is literally out of this world.
IR: Do you have favorites in your collection?
MM: I have a lot of favorites in my collection. There is a stingray skin that we water jet cut and applied by hand. This has never been done and this is the technique that we’ve invented and thought up. We took the stingray skin and cut it up into squares, adding just a little gold sparkle to it, so it shimmers in the light. It’s simple, but also it’s one of the most intricate things I’ve ever made. And it’s a big part of what we do here, engineering and making sure everything is perfect. Everything has a really nice lining, everything lines up, comes together and nothing is off. If a woman is going to buy a luxury item, it’d better be perfect. And to try to sell luxury to a woman in today’s economy, it has to be at a level that you really don’t see in another young designer. Interestingly enough, the editors all see that and are paying a close attention to us.
IR: Who is your style icon?
MM: If I had to dress one person in my life it would be Daphne Guinness. I can see her in every single outfit I made. Just because she has her lightness, but she also has her dark side. She loves things that came from out of space and anything that’s embroidered.
IR: What are some of your favorite design references?
MM: I think asymmetry is one of the most interesting things you can do in fashion. It gives it a lot of energy. So I was thinking about combining the wools from the jackets with the leathers from the skirts and all the embellishments from the chiffon dresses. It’s architectural, but at the same time it’s thoughtful and balanced. I like prints but we are not really a print house, we like texture. If we are going to do imagery of let’s say stingray or fossil (we did fossils two seasons in a row), we’ll do it with a texture that looks like marble as opposed to just showing a fossil. Or we are going to take it and we are going to make it out of something else. We made one dress last season that had beetle wings on it, actual beetle wings. We take something unexpected and mix it together to create the final product. We are also huge on the sheer.
IR: Are you involved in the design of your shoes as well?
MM: We make all of our own shoes. I think it’s important to keep it within the family, because it needs to come from the same vision. For instance, we took the plucked beaver fur we used for a couple of our jackets, and applied it to the body of the shoe; or our stingray boots, which were a nightmare to make, had to match our stingray jacket and strapless gown. Everything has to be done in the same quality as the rest of the collection.
IR: What does it mean to be a young designer in today’s economy?
MM: I’m an artist but the business side is also important. Because it’s fashion, and I have both sides, I need to be able to sell my clothes to continue what I have been doing. For example, there were a couple of embroideries that almost didn’t get in before the show because of the snow storm. We were the last flight to get into the city. And in the past we had to almost fly to India ourselves to pick up embroideries, because they couldn’t send someone. So whatever needs to be done, gets done. I’m a young designer and I can’t slip up. There is a huge expectation of me and the people around me. Everybody looks at young designers and tests them. Is this person worth it? And I’ve been very fortunate of people saying “yes”, and it’s a dream… And now we are working on the next season. The day after the show we were already working on the next collection.
IR: What kind of upbringing did you have as a child?
MM: My family is not in fashion, I grew up with the science and art background. My dad has his Master’s in Astrophysics, my grandmother was an artist and a piano player, my uncle got his degree in Botany, my sister goes to ESF, and I’m the only one in fashion. My family members are blindsided by what I am doing and fascinated by it at the same time. But I get all of the references and my sense of inventiveness from them. So it’s funny and it’s cool. I like the mix. It makes for an interesting family dynamic.
IR: What are your interests outside of fashion?
MM: I love music. I also love putting flowers around my apartment, that’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to eat. Food is a big part of my life. My grandmother makes a London
broil that’s just amazing. She takes simple salad dressing, puts it on top of steak, bakes it in the oven, and when it comes out – I don’t know how it works – it tastes like magic.
IR: Do you have an idea in mind for your next collection?
MM: Oh, yes. We just finished some of the artwork today. But I can’t say anything. It’s very intellectual and it’s also very emotional. Every season I kind of switch. I think, what’s wonderful about fashion is that you can delve into so many different things, whether it’s something more emotional or something that’s more intellectual: like doing music or staging, or the actual design of the clothes. Everything that goes with it are the things that I appreciate, and that is why I do it. Because if I just wanted to perform music – I played practically my whole life since I was five or six years old – I’d just be a piano player. But I needed a little bit more than that, I wanted to be more creative… Next season is going to be even better. So I am very excited!
Nu-Mode´ Interview Exclusive Irina Romashevskaya