Co-founder of the E2 label and the Mariot Chanet brand, Michèle Meunier Chatenet had also designed for Hermes, Léonard and Eres. In 2009, she was the laureate of Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto for her “Robes de Soi” project. In 2019, her handbags made out of vintage fabric were exhibited during the Parcours St Germain and at the Arts Décoratif museum boutique. This year, during the first days of quarantine, Michèle started to make masks with her amazing fabrics and gave all profits of the sales to the APHP (Paris Hospitals). Michèle created fun and beautiful visual content out of them and thanks to the success of her Instagram page, her masks were quickly spotted. This is actually how Stephanie met Michèle… they were both on their bicycles, under the arcades of Rue de Rivoli when Michèle hand-delivered her personal order of masks ! Read her interview and discover her passions and inspirations.
1. First of all, what is your relationship with jewellery?
I like jewellery that becomes a part of me, be it antique or modern; and just like clothing, I like jewellery that does not restrict movement at the neck, ears, wrists and fingers.
2. Can you tell us about the jewellery pouches you have designed for WHITE bIRD? where did you take your inspiration from?
Made from organdie and lined in vintage fabric, these little pouches are easy to take with you wherever you go. They mean you can take the minimum amount of jewellery with you on your travels, keeping it on you at all times.
3. You love collecting fabrics. Which ones do you prefer? and why?
Difficult to choose! I love all fabrics; vintage ones because they bring back memories, but also Japanese fabrics such as kimono and obi as well as visually striking African wax fabrics. What interests me the most is the positioning of the motif that makes the fabric stand out within its ethnic context.
4. You've had a long career in fashion, can you tell us what you have learnt?
Learning and unlearning, assembling and dismantling, constantly working. Keeping an open mind and liking something you didn't like two days ago...
5. Which fashion designers have inspired you? and how?
That's a hard question! I'm inspired when design is the heart and soul of a collection: in other words, when it's personal
6. What gave you the idea to create Mariot Chanet, then E2?
A need to break free, no doubt... E2 was the result of weighing up the pros and cons, and there are lot more cons when it comes to fashion. Having lost our first Mariot Chanet business due to a poor partnership, retaining our freedom and all the pleasure of designing were our main drivers.
7. By breathing new life into garments, you were ahead of your time and the world's ecological challenges. You helped reduce clothing overproduction. Are you a consultant for up-and-coming brands?
I've been on the judging panel twice for Ensad (France's National School of Decorative Arts). I would love to connect more with young designers and pass on my knowledge.
8. Your career choices seem to have been guided by freedom. How have you managed to retain it?
Fashion is a field where the rules are dictated by the press, finance and production. Retaining your freedom sometimes means relinquishing certain hopes of gaining recognition, but never giving in. Having scorn poured on your designs is a choice
9. As fashion is associated with time, what is your relationship with time?
Certain big names have succeeded in being timeless, holding on as if by magic and that's as precious as time itself. When I create something, it's because I feel a desire to do so; I must admit that I never really consider time.
10. In normal times, how important is travel to you?
Essential, vital, nourishing; travelling forces you to rethink, step out of the comfort zones that are imposed by our everyday lives without us realising it. Since I can't get away in real life at the moment, I rely on books, daydreams and designing to travel inside my head.
11. You have children. Can you tell us about them? Are they interested in fashion?
Angèle and Tom have each developed their aesthetic vision in their own way, in terms of fashion as well as their outlook on the arts in general. I find them very carefree and chic, and much more liberated than I was at their age.
12. Which is your favourite sense?
The 5 senses are like our jewels, all equally precious
If you were a jewel, you would be: a pair of earrings
A stone, you would be: an opala flower, you would be: a poppya dish, you would be: a Japanese bento
A work of art, you would be: a pebble
An author, you would be: Stefan Zweig
An artist, you would be: All women who fought for such a long time for their art to be recognised
A country, you would be: a multi-cultural continentan animal, you would be: a bird
A kind of sport, you would be: dance