Artist, stylist, woman entrepreneur, Anne Elisabeth plays with colors, fabrics and challenges, for her pleasure and for ours.
On inspiration, Anne Elisabeth absorbs smells, colors, sounds and feelings; on expiration, she creates patterns, models of dresses and poetic stories that reveal them.
On Thursday and Sunday, Anne Elisabeth and her sisters sew while listening to music. The father is present: in the family living room, I imagine him amazed by the beauty of the fabrics, like the painter Vuilllard immersed in the feminine universe, delighting to see them all at work, happy to be together and to to create. Create to be beautiful, to go dancing, to party.
Her mom is flirtatious, full of joy and energy, always ready to go out with friends. And to go out, you have to dress. Little, Anne Elisabeth is sometimes jealous of her classmates dressed in pink or blue gingham, in wise and classic clothes, while she and her sisters wear original, sometimes eccentric outfits. But this feeling is fleeting. Very early on she dresses in subtle colors, which do not have a name, which misses out on fashion, but does not miss out on style.
The taste for adventure
In 1977, Anne Elisabeth and her companion set off on a backpack for a long trip to Asia: Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bali, Singapore. Blocked for several days by a storm, they find refuge on an island in the Philippines. Anne Elisabeth discovers, in a local market, magnificent bags of flour personalized with the emblem of the producing company ("Milling Company"): each has its own lettering, images, colors. She already imagines the bags transformed into tops as pretty as they are comfortable. She buys a few of them, develops her prototype, and in the days that follow, buys or has bought any that she finds. The family that houses them is involved and agrees to send all production in container. On their return from their trip, three months later, the couple will pick up three thousand pretty pure cotton tops in Le Havre; they will be baptized « Millings ».
Learning the job
The top has its little success, and the daring couple decides not to stop there. New objective: to make oneself known. A tiny stand is rented at the ready-to-wear show where all the major brands are present. They hope to sell the tops. At the last minute, Anne Elisabeth decides to add a little sailor dress that she has just finished. The tops are ignored, the dress is a hit. Journalists crowd in front of their stand. Anne Elisabeth, pregnant until the eyes, must assume this success and above all ensure the follow-up of the model. She knows how to invent, cut, sew, but that is not enough: how to adapt a pattern to different sizes? Who are the fabric suppliers? The path is yet to be traced.
Second step: visits to trade fairs. Also, at the fabric fair in Munich, attracted by the beauty of the pretty prints at the BOUSAC stand, she meets Mr. Gérard, a leading figure in the textile world, he listens to her and takes her under his wing; for ten years she will be formed by his side.
The creative process
Awakening the senses, Anne Elisabeth lets herself be touched by light, nature, landscapes, scents.
On the lookout for remarkable gardens, she rides her bicycle, spots a grove of flowers, stops, admires it, takes some photos. In the garden adjoining the small family house, she watches for the blooming of buds; she notes the variations in the shimmering light on the black cauldron in front of her studio: morning or evening light, each one reveals it differently.
In Capri, she is charmed by the floor covered with mosaics in a small chapel; the refined, transformed motif will be found in his new collection. The flight of a stork, a swan in the twinkling light of autumn? Photo! In her urban walks, she mentally personalizes the city by its dominant color. Paris is gray and chalk-white; London is steel and blue gray; Lisbon, ocher.
A game of lotto, a pochade or even a naive crust unearthed in flea markets, old fashion prints or even record covers are all sources of invention. Inspired by the graphics of the artist and architect Hundertwasser, Anne Elisabeth creates in pastel her "Utopia" print, reversing the colors, a cold and vegetal variant, another purple and warm; this is the latest addition to the winter collection.
In her studio, she works on the photos on a computer, enlarges a detail, reverses the contrasts. Or she pulls out her acrylics, pastels and colored pencils depending on the idea she wants to develop. The sketches are found pinned to the wall.
Other materials, sometimes old creations or even a fabric unearthed on a market, will be placed next to it, on the work table, for a future transformation. There, thousands of pieces of colored fabrics, united, arranged by shade, are preserved in jars like a range of living colors, witness of a whole life. This is her method of transmitting the colors to the printer: for her, no tone is truer than the real color drawn from her collection.
While colors matter, words matter too, especially if they are evocative. Her blog includes "plum gold", "rosewood", "arpeggio rose" and other poetic associations of her own. The atmospheres she perceives when reading novels are found in one or the other theme, such as the "Ukrainian Night" born from the White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov or "The Spring Bird", in homage to her cult writer Murakami.
In her workshop, she feels like a chef in the kitchen: sweetening, spicing up, spicing up, harmonizing, all the culinary vocabulary qualifies her creative process.
Multi competent woman
Each season Anne Elisabeth creates all of her drawings. They are printed in Italy. Depending on the type of clothing she has in mind, they are available on different fabrics, chosen for their drape or weight, their lightness or their crisp appearance. She draws all the shapes, sends her sketches to her model maker who will make a canvas, then the pattern. After testing and validation, it is the stage of industrial production. Everything is made in a small factory in Morocco, she goes there regularly, controlling the cut and the chain.
At the back of one of her shops she has set up a small photo studio. She takes the photos herself, edits them, and then adds them to her e-commerce site. A simple and original device makes it possible to present the newly created fabrics: suspended on a wire in the wind, in a landscape in harmony with the pattern, she freezes them in a photo which, accompanied by a text from her pen, will feed her blog.
We often see Anne Elisabeth in her boutiques. She meets her clients there, listens to them, and is delighted to see them enhanced by her creations. A mother shares with her her choice of dress for her son's wedding. A sales representative tells her that she has more confidence when she wears Anne Elisabeth. A female doctor claims that nicely dressed, she opens the hearts of her patients, who are more inclined to trust her.
A dream collaboration
Behind a great man hides a woman, behind Anne-Elisabeth, there is a husband, companion of the first days; if he is in charge of management and finances, he is also the first glance. Together, they develop the main lines of the collection.
In his projects, maybe a book. Anne Elisabeth has a light and colorful pen. She cultivates her taste for writing on a daily basis. If I dream for her, I see an exhibition in Giverny, in Monet's house, next to this magnificent garden which inspires her on each of her visits, whatever the season.