THE LEFT-HANDED SCULPTOR : Marie-Christine Statz
Text by Sarah Lam | Photos courtesy of Net-a-Porter
Gauchere's spring-summer 2020
Gauchere's spring-summer 2020
Gauchere's spring-summer 2020
Gauchere's spring-summer 2020
Gauchere's spring-summer 2020
Gauchere's spring-summer 2020

She’s a German-born designer leading one of the brightest names in French fashion. Sounds familiar? The Parsons-schooled and couture-trained Marie-Christine Statz – founder and designer of Gauchere – has been pegged by insiders as the one to watch.

Since Net-A-Porter launched the The Vanguard programme two years ago, it has cultivated a launching pad for emerging talents to make a name for themselves. Among the four selected talents this season, Parisian ready-to-wear label Gauchere is a stand out – lauded for its art driven approach and a familiar design sensibility celebrated by Philophiles (a fashion tribe known for appreciating the muted and minimalistic stylings honed by designer Phoebe Philo). Gauchere is led by German-born Marie-Christine Statz, a finalist of the prestigious ANDAM fashion award in 2014 and 2015 – a prize first won by the likes of Martin Margiela in 1989. The 38-year-old’s fashion resumé also hints at what you can expect in Gauchere’s catalogue: the earlier part of her career were spent with Narciso Rodriguez and Diane Von Furstenberg. Here, Statz speaks to us about her design philosophy and how her garments help individuals express their individuality.

MANIFESTO: How was life at Parsons? What positives did you take away from that experience?

MARIE-CHRISTINE STATZ: Life at Parsons was intense. We were basically living in the uptown campus and the school was always open. We were working late and on weekends to finish the latest project. It was about pushing your ideas and creative concepts. Learning about your strengths and weaknesses and how to improve. To value individuality and to respect your deadline when working under pressure.

M: Why did you choose New York in the first place?

MCS: Parsons School is based in New York and this city inspires me so much. New York has this incredible energy that makes you believe that anything is possible.

M: And what’s the story behind Gauchere? How did it all begin?

MCS: I started Gauchere in Paris after l’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. It was a small collection of 35 pieces, which were bought by the department store Bon Marché Rive Gauche. This was a great support and I decided to continue with
the brand.

M: Gauchere means left-handed in French. What influenced this name?

MCS: I am left-handed and one of my teachers at l’Ecole de la Chambre Synadicale de la Couture Parisienne gave me this nickname. It was linked to the fact that since I was working with my left hand – draping and pinning on a stockman – I was working from the back to the front. It was the other way round than what everyone else was doing.

M: You often look into the world of art for inspiration when you are designing. Where and how do you perceive art?

MCS: I find inspiration in certain art movements, especially the Bauhaus, as well as architecture, as my vision is very graphical.

M: Can you share with us your design philosophy?

MCS: The design speaks a graphic language: oversized and large shapes meet fitted pieces, and classic menswear tailoring appears in the context of a simultaneous use of masculine and feminine aspects of a garment. I like to work on the entire outer and inner fabric, mostly on fabrics used for men’s clothing that I translate into reversible female silhouettes.

M: Deconstruction is also a core characteristic of your collection, why did you want to explore this aspect?

MCS: I believe it is a construction of a garment with all the different elements. I like to look at them apart and find new ways of how they can work together and multiple ways of how the same garment can be worn.

M: In the spring-summer 2020 collection, you looked at the Neo-Concrete Movement and especially the work of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark, how do you adapt this into the design?

MCS: I saw an exhibition in Paris and I took a particular interest in the work of Lygia Clark – the body as a central aspect of her practice, Clark’s organic lines and her ability to simultaneously draw the attention to the image’s edge as well as its boundlessness.

M: Most of your designs are made in France, why is that?

MCS: I like to produce locally but our knitwear, for example, is produced in Italy. I am open to work with companies outside of France, but sustainability is important to us and the commitment to the environment must be applied to the entire production reality and this is a continuous work at Gauchere. Our suppliers ensure full product traceability from the origin of raw materials, as well as the most advanced technologies, organizational and management processes, with full respect for people and the environment.

M: How has Gauchere’s messaging developed since the brand started?

MCS: My vision is to create garments that point out the individual. The collections are intuitive, a study of self-expression with a focus on the art of tailoring, intricate work on pleats and sculptural volumes. I see more than ever the Gauchere woman as progressive and an active participant in today’s society. She knows what she wants. Live and let live is not just a phrase for her but an attitude towards life. She has her own style and knows what suits her. This is what I would like to express through my designs.

M: Why do you think Net-A-Porter invited Gauchere to be part of The Vanguard?

MCS: I feel the aesthetics of Gauchere is relevant to Net-A-Porter, our values are aligned as well as the women we are talking to. A big part of Net-A-Porter clients are detail-oriented women, looking for timeless garments for their daily life. They appreciate the minimalist approach on tailoring as well as the avant-garde aspect of a brand.

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