Interview with LUCIE BOURREAU, co-founder of the brand MII
"We want our designs to have meaning, humanity is at the heart of our initiative"
Located at the centre of the “Tuileries” tent, the Mii designs were eye-catching like an invitation to travel and escape reality, with their light and colourful dresses and their delicate fabrics with dreamlike patterns. For 6 years now, the collections created by the Franco-Indian designers Bapan Dutta and Lucie Bourreau have been inspired by nature and art creating all sorts of scarves and fabrics, as well as a line of high-end ready-to-wear that they have been creating for 2 years. Their pieces combine their passion for travel, culture and fashion and their know-how as well as their birthplaces, India and France. Sharing their lives between Brittany and the Bengal region, the duo that met at the school of Decorative Arts in Paris continue on their successful journey.
What does the name Mii mean ?
Mii is the acronym for “Made in India” which is where my husband is from. We travelled across India a lot to launch our brand, we analysed how people worked and we have managed to set up a project that allows us to work in an inspiring and beneficial way for everyone. We are loyal to our craftsmen and we are trying to develop their know-how and to motivate them so that this craftsmanship is conserved, as it is a threatened sector in India. Following the launch of Mii, we have really wanted to combine creativity with local craftsmanship.
How has such a small Indian manufacturing brand become so popular across the world ?
We have built our ateliers in India, it began as a tiny structure and today, we have 150 weavers working for us as well as 10 embroiderers who make all of our samples. The idea is that across our collections, our craftsmen have work during the entire year. We work in the Bengal region, it is a region known for its summer fabrics and we have also introduced winter expertise so that all of our manufacturing can take place locally. We started with the scarf, we advanced well straight-away and so two years ago we decided to integrate ready-to-wear into our collections which has allowed us to employ lots of people onto our projects.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections ?
We develop different themes for every collection. We are mainly inspired by the “Martine” books, such as “Martine at the beach,” but our collections are not directly linked to a place, it is more a concept. In the present case, this season we are working on the Cyclades in Greece. We truly develop each step of design and creation of our pieces: the weave, the prints and the colours...Everything starts from the thread.
What is your history with Premiere Classe ?
We have been attending Premiere Classe ever since the start of our brand six years ago. It was the only trade-show that we were doing at the beginning and it worked well for us straight-away. Premiere Classe launched us into the industry. We have a very loyal and international clientele base that we see here every edition.
Do you have a significant memory or encounter from Premiere Classe ?
It was an edition which was maybe not as good as the previous ones and just as the trade-show was closing we were about to pack up our stand when a Japanese buyer stopped by and started asking us questions about our products. And we discovered that it was the founder of Tomorrowland, one of the biggest concept stores in Japan. This then led to a collaboration which lasted around two years, it was an incredible experience!
What do you see for the evolution of sustainable fashion ?
As designers, we all ask ourselves lots of questions. Fashion is a particular industry in regard to its relationship with ecology, so clearly we all have problems that we have to think about. But we also have noticed a delay with consumers who seem to want to buy eco-friendly products but who aren’t quite ready to take them on. For example, a product with a natural finish that has been woven by hand and is organic will therefore have some irregularities, such as indigo which is a colour that cannot be fixed...It is difficult to find balance between what you want to be able to do and what people are willing to buy.
Nature and the human are at the heart of your brand philosophy.
We want our designs to have meaning, humanity is at the heart of our initiative. We create and manufacture our own pieces, which limits our creative momentum as well as our productivity. We aren’t machines, we focus more on quality and creativity with our collections. It is also good to have limits.
How do you envisage collaboration in the fashion industry ?
We have just joined the “Talents” programme launched by the Fédération Française du Prêt-à-Porter, which is a coaching programme that brings together 5 brands according to different development criterias. Here, we have a sharing philosophy: we discuss our resources, our thoughts and our abilities during masterclasses. However, if no-one gets involved it is harder to create these kind of exchanges. We share our life between Brittany and India where we live for part of the year, at the end of the day we don’t have time to meet other designers aside from at events like Premiere Classe.
How are Premiere Classe editions a must-see in you calendar ?
Premiere Classe still offers human contact, an exchange between different professions in the industry. This edition, we encountered clients that have followed the Mii brand story but also our story. It is a real meeting place.
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