x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Simple lines, rich fabrics

Retail therapy Madeleine Huwiler, the creative director of the French leather goods company Le Tanneur talks about her life in fashion.

Madeleine Huwiler designs for Le Tanneur & Cie.
Madeleine Huwiler designs for Le Tanneur & Cie.

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.