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Serial traveller Lisa Wikander stitches her cultural sightings into her own womenswear brand, Mes Dames. Only 3 years old, Mes Dames is expanding rapidly and has many buyers worldwide. This fashion article from Emma Daniels traces its winding roots, delves into the new collection and quizzes the designer on the past, the present and the future of her exquisitely handcrafted brand.
What is Mes Dames?
Mes Dames is a new female fashion brand, currently expanding in Stockholm. Mes Dames is French for my ladies, and the name runs a thread through each collection. It all started in Paris 2009 when a friend who had a store wondered if I could make a collection to sell there. Since then Mes Dames has made two collections per year and has founded more buyers in France, China and Sweden. The French name signalises its Parisian roots, but it is neither completely French nor Swedish.
What has happened to Mes Dames and the people behind it so far?
A lot has developed since the start in 2009. I have learned everything from how to transform my creativity into clothes, to how to translate my inspirations and ideas into garments, to finding the running thread in different ideas that makes up a collection and defining my own style. Running a fashion brand is also about so many other things than just design, organising production with volumes and fabric choices and sample making are a part of my gained knowledge. It is important to find the balance between these roles.
Mes Dames states both Swedish and French influences, how do you feel these mould together and influence the brand?
In my life, I have been moving around a lot, I was born in Hamburg, raised in Stockholm and educated in Paris. In the last couple of years, I have been living between Paris, Shanghai and Rome, but I finally decided to settle down in Stockholm, my private and professional base. My designs are a mix of the sensual French and the clean Nordic, the result of an international lifestyle.
Mes Dames is sold in Shanghai, what is it about the brand that appeals to the Chinese market?
I think the feminine, more dressed fashion fits the Shanghai woman very well. When living there I often reflected over how they dressed up for work, always in heels. European brands are popular in China, and not only the famous fashion houses.
What is the Mes Dames philosophy?
I collect interesting, characteristic women as a source of inspiration. It could be a real life historic person, or just someone unknown in a portrait, they all become one of mes dames (my ladies). I am a bit of a romantic so my inspiration often tends to be from the past, but I try to convert it into a contemporary look.
Who is the Mes Dames girl?
Wearing my collections should make you feel strong and elegant, and inspire you to make an impact just like the characteristic women of my inspiration. Everyone who gets that feeling is one of mes dames!
The photographs by Anna Malmberg of the A/W 12 collection are amazing, what were the inspirations for the shoot?
19th century oil portraits, like the ones by Swedish painter Helene Schjerfbeck, inspired me. The three models could be sisters or just friends, coming alive through the camera.
What pieces are key to the collection?
There is always a base of clean cut silk blouses, this season the colours were white, blue, mustard and canvas. The canvas coat and pants, inspired by the structure of the painting canvas, are signature pieces of the collection.
Has Mes Dames been involved with Stockholm Fashion Week?S
During fashion week in Stockholm Mes Dames had a showroom, displaying the collection for autumn/winter 2012. I hope that for the next season we will be able to do a show as well.
What are the future aspirations for the Mes Dames brand?
I will continue to work with Mes Dames, developing the brand, collecting more ‘ladies’. The goal is to set up a bricks and mortar store in which I can fully develop the concept of Mes Dames.
See more at www.mesdames.se/
Fashion Article by Emma Daniels
All photography taken by Anna Malmberg
Growing up under the influence of her artist parents, Anna won a photography scholarship in Stockholm at the age of 18. For many years, she assisted numerous photographers until embarking on a career in art and fashion business. Anna has since had many of her own exhibitions in both Sweden and Taiwan and currently resides in Paris.