Isabel Marant

by Tonie Ong

ISABEL MARANT Logo 2Paris is undoubtedly one of the most influential cities in the fashion industry. It’s the home of haute couture, the craft and business of made-to-measure clothing upon with many facets of the industry are founded on. It’s also home to some of the most beloved and best-selling luxury brands dominating the industry today. If one were to think of the quintessential French style, definitive of what the city’s fashion stands for, one might think of the simple look of Chanel, the New Look of Dior, or the gender-bending aesthetic of Yves Saint Laurent. However, for a certain bohemian crowd in the heart of the city, no other designer embodies French chic quite like Isabel Marant.

The Isabel Marant Look

If there’s one word to describe the ‘Isabel Marant’ look, it would be: relaxed. In whatever she does, Marant always has an element of ease and effortlessness in her collections, be it a simple paring of a t-shirt and jeans or a more trendy look with layers upon layers of clothing. She also regularly presents a rock-and-roll aesthetic, mixing together elements such as leather pieces with bohemian prints. Although throughout the years that she has developed a signature style that is all her own, she’s not afraid to try out new silhouettes and textiles every once and awhile. Whatever she may be feeling for a particular season, her clothes are always unmistakably hers.

Early Beginnings

She was born in the year 1967, on the 12th of April in Paris. She had a German model for a mother and a French photographer for a father, one who raised her primarily when her parents divorced. Even at an early age, she already renounced the feminine ideals of French fashion, and by 1982, in her late teens, was already making her own clothes. Her own creations soon caught the eye of her friends and schoolmates and not long, she was earning a lot from her designs. In 1985, she studied fashion at Studio Berçot, a prestigious Paris fashion school.

Her first step in the industry started in the late 80’s when she worked for a number of designers in Paris. She interned for fashion designer Michael Klein and worked under Marc Ascoli, where she assisted in the art director’s collaborations with Martine Sitbon, Chloé, and Yohji Yamamoto. Eventually, Marant launched her own line between 1989 and 1990, designing both jewellery and knitwear under the label “Twen”. Her garments then were usually basics and staples, but already had her signature ease and were very comfortable to wear. It was widely-different from the very exuberant trends that were popping up during that time.

Diffusion Lines

Her own and present eponymous label, Isabel Marant, opened up in 1994, debuting on the runway during the 1995 spring-summer Paris Fashion Week. In the following years, she also launched a number of diffusion lines, some of which are still open and selling pieces to this day. In 1998, she worked for fellow French label La Redoute as a guest designer, offering a series of stylized basics. In 1999, she opened her Étoile diffusion line, debuting it during the 1999 Paris Fashion Weeks. Here, she offers a more wearable approach to her designs at more affordable prices.

In 2004, she released her childrenswear label, while In 2013, she famously collaborated with Swedish high street company H&M for their annual designer capsule collection. It features all her famous signatures, from chunky knit coats and sweaters, tightly-cut cigarette jeans, psychedelic-printed pieces, and cropped tweed jackets. It also featured menswear, the very first time she ventured into making clothes for men.

Famous Members of the “Isabel Marant Girl Gang”

Throughout the 21st century, Marant has amassed a cult following among the world’s most prominent young fashionistas. Celebrities like Sienna Miller, Taylor Swift, and Alexa Chung have all been seen wearing Marant, at times, even head to toe. Top models like Arizona Muse, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Kate Moss have all become the face of the brand at some point. In Paris, Marant is one of the few labels young girls buy and actually wear on the streets. While the mothers are wearing the likes of Chanel and Dior, their daughters are almost all in Isabel Marant, hence why the label has become a definitive brand for French chic.

International Expansion

Despite being an independent designer, Isabel Marant has become a globally-loved brand. Since her launch back in the 90’s, she has opened stores in various other countries, such as the USA, Japan, South Korea, Spain, England, and Lebanon. Her items are also sold in over 35 retailers worldwide, which included the very prestigious Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Alongside selling in Net-A-Porter, the label has also opened up their own e-commerce website, so customers can simply order online.

There’s only a handful of designers that have stayed independent throughout their careers, as well as having stayed true to their identity. Isabel Marant created a look all those years ago that is now beloved and has influenced a new generation of stylish women. She has also redefined French fashion, taking on the industry’s many greats like the haute couture houses that have been around almost a century before Marant even started designing anything. To this day, no one has achieved what Marant has in over two decades.

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