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Alexis Mabille Haute Couture A/W11

The Parisian designer spun theatrical children's tales, ‘Fables de la Fontaine’ as the main influences for the sparkling couture collection

At Mabille’s show last night, a press release explained that the inspiration for the collection was the ‘Fables de la Fontaine’: these children’s animal tales packed with social and philosophical messages are also a French classic taught in schools generation after generation. This is Mabille’s collection in a nutshell: retro, fairy-tale like, and with a little humour. These shameless princess dresses were complete with trails, luxurious velvet, crystals encrusted, and theatricalized with long feathers poking out of the hair – completed by a soundtrack à la Tim Burton.

The silhouettes ranged from old-school Hollywood wear, backless and floor length, to 50s, shorter wide skirts with a marked high waist. A notable model (not sure which animal this was, but we can imagine which woman it is symbolizing) was a long velvet dress which trail split open at the back, revealing a pink silk inside. On both arms, a rank of spike ferociously poked out. Sparkles, large knots, fox, and lace punctuated the show – one aimed at women who can, and do it fiercely. Dazed Digital talked to Alexis Mabille after the show and discussed the symbols behind his dresses and the reality of doing couture in today’s world.

Dazed Digital: Why were the ‘Fables de la Fontaine’ inspiring to you?
Alexis Mabille: It is inspired by the ‘Fables de la Fontaine’. The idea was to express an animal-esque woman – and she might be a fox, a frog, and a bird.  It is a satire of elegance and appearance, the like La Fontaine who disguised men as animals to freely talk about politics and society.

DD: Which woman is the collection for?
Alexis Mabille:
It is for a woman who is fully confident of dressing the way she does, and is ready to wear her dress powerfully but yet with a certain lightness and poetry – and a touch of humor of course.  The woman in my couture dresses is a strong one, yet who has kept a je-ne-sais-quoi of a little girl.

DD: Isn’t it challenging doing couture, especially in the era of mass-production?
Alexis Mabille:
Yes, that’s a story of its own – the work put into the dresses is incredible – some are even getting their finishing touches as we speak! This is what couture is, hours and hours and hours of sewing, one-on-one with the fabric.

DD: Talking of couture, when even Christian Lacroix fails at keeping it alive, isn’t it a scary bet for a young designer like yourself?
Alexis Mabille:
Well, luckily enough, not only is it a pleasure to work on such incredible pieces, couture also has an economic reality: we have a public; the dresses sell, so why stop?

DD: During men’s fashion week, you launched a line of underwear and swimwear, and told us you wanted to open up to a new younger market. Any chance of that happening for girls too, who can’t afford to couture?
Alexis Mabille:
Well, not in an immediate future – but things like bags, custom jewelry, a knit, this is more affordable!