Madeleine Huwiler, the creative director of the French leather goods company Le Tanneur talks about her life in fashion. I have been interested in art and design since I was eight. I still have a lot of friends in Switzerland who are in graphic design and the art scene. I always liked to work with leather because for me, it is a very luxurious material. It's very interesting as well because with time, leather gets even more beautiful.
I love to work with proportion and I love to create shape, which is very different from doing a ready-to-wear collection. When I went to Paris after my studies, I worked for different brands like Azzedine Alaïa Haute Couture, Gap, Kookaï, and after that I came to accessories through Le Tanneur and it was the big click for me; it was what I always wanted to do. I have two favourite bags. The first is a bag from my mother, originally from the 1960s. It's a leather shoulder bag with a very nice shape. The second is the Vicky bag from Le Tanneur collection. I have already one from the winter 2009 collection, which is a test for me - it is not in the shop yet. So I tested it and I love it because it is very soft and you can wear it out day and night with every outfit - a very lovely bag. It's in braided leather, black and white. The black is in patent leather and the white stripes are in calf leather.
When I was a child, I really loved visiting my grandmother once a year. She was living in Zurich and she was a very attractive and elegant woman, even in her old age. Her apartment was stuffed with cool design objects and she had a very big wardrobe with a lot of shoes and dresses and bags. I spent hours looking through her stuff. She would tell me nice stories about her life. I think she was a big idol for me.
My first party dress was a dress I did myself when I was 17 or 18. It must have been one of my first dresses, in black silk jersey. A very simple dress with a very sexy shape. It was very tight, but the jersey was very fluid at the same time. When I was a teenager, I tried a lot of different stuff. It went from hippie to gothic. I think my parents must have had a hard time. But I always loved to go flea markets and second hand shops and I started very early to make my own clothes.
When I was about 25, I bought a smoking jacket - a very tight and feminine smoking jacket - from Yves Saint Laurent. I still have it. I've always loved Yves Saint Laurent. For me, even at that age, it was a classic. You can wear it with jeans, you can wear it with an evening dress. I am not a bling girl. I like clothes that have a very good cut and the shape must be perfect - it's really important to me. I like to wear only natural fibres in very high quality. I love it simple, but I take care with the details and I think that's also why I love doing accessories. You can have a very simple style but then accessorise it.
I like the furniture and prints of the 1950s - most of my influence comes from that. But I think the bags were even more beautiful in the Sixties and Seventies. I like to shop in every city I go to and I like to go to flea markets and second-hand shops, but I also like to go to all the luxury brands of course. What I like very much are also concept stores, like Colette in Paris, where you can find design objects, clothes, very different things.
I like to shop on the internet, too. You can find everything you want on the internet. I am very busy during the daytime and also the weekends, so it's a good thing when you are at home at 11 in the evening that you can shop. I like net-a-porter.com and eBay. In art I very much like Jeff Koons, and for music, it's more indie rock that I love - I play bass guitar in a rock band called Les Geeks. But we are not so famous - we are doing it for fun.