Alexis Mabille's Answers to Couture Life

The world of couture can be abstract and strange but it helps to keep a level head about it all. “People kept asking me, why have you put a hooded dress in your show, is it about doing sportswear? It’s not about doing sportswear, it’s just that a hood is a normal part of the wardrobe now. It’s not about trying to do a young thing – we are young!” pointed out Alexis Mabille this week as he switched the excitement of showing his latest couture collection for the excitement of opening up his first boutique, a jewellery box of a shop, at The Ritz. 


Alexis Mabille Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION. 

“It’s really like a little treat, isn’t it?” he noted, exploring the small but perfectly-formed space which has been open for just a week and is, as he puts it, “ideal for a last-minute cocktail!” And it has benefits for him, too. “It’s very different the way it works in a hotel compared to a boutique because the client is so cosmopolitan. They don’t know us; we don’t know them.” 


Of course, glancing at a flash of marabou feather, lengths of lace, and a glass box of glittering jewellery down the legendary hotel’s shopping parade (en route to the bar, no less) will surely remedy that. And it’s from there, having been wooed by this ready-to-wear offering (contrary to popular belief, Mabille actually did start out in ready-to-wear first), that they may well end up as couture clients. 


“It’s like eating a cake,” he says of the craft. “It’s supposed to be sweet and to get all those details and flavours and to get an experience. It’s the same idea with a couture collection. We work hard for many months to get that with the atelier, creating all this lace so that it looks super simple and easy but there’s so much work that has gone into it.”


Alexis Mabille Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION. 

As with anything, it comes down to the art of effortlessness, which sounds like an odd thing to say when it comes to couture. “It just needs to look fresh and easy because if it starts to look too heavy, then it means we tried too hard to show it.”


For Mabille, those effortless details have time and again presented themselves in light and airy collections fused with a sense of romance and femininity. “It’s more a feeling and a way of life which I love because sometimes I don’t want to be too radical,” he notes, which accounts for the hood and his accompanying explanation. 


The second look of the show, he says, took three weeks of work by three people, putting three different types of lace together to recreate a specific motif. “For couture, it’s very egotistical and the client just wants creation; they come and don’t care about the price.” Which is fine for Mabille, whose business is going great guns and some of his clients are as young as one-year-olds, and he has created couture pieces for a couple of lucky four and six-year-olds, too. Just imagine getting that on your birthday! 

 Alexis Mabille at his Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018 show in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

“Just because we do couture doesn’t mean we have to do something traditional. The craftsmanship, yes. In a way we need to move, but in a way also not,” he says. Which is why he can feature a hood in a collection, design for children, have a boutique in The Ritz, and have just launched on NET-A-PORTER.COM (“a feeling of couture, but it’s not couture”) all in the same sentence. “We are young! Don’t be too shy or too bourgeois,” is his answer.