Morgane Sézalory is the founder and self-taught designer of the French brand Sézane. She started out by creating the website Les Composantes, where she presented her vintage finds as monthly collections and soon began to develop her own designs, finally setting out to create her own brand, Sézane, exclusively available online, in 2013. What sets Sézane apart from other fashion brands is not only its insouciant French appeal, but also the concept of a permanent collection (the Essentials) it carries, besides the monthly collections – a sustainable approach and a clear sign of what the company stands for: style comes before fashion. The brand has also recently revealed a lifestyle line, featuring beautiful notebooks, candles and posters (one more reason for me to love the brand), and another exciting news is that it will launch the Appartement in spring, a showroom where customers can make an appointment for a private fitting session and order online afterwards. Yes, the Sézane team thinks of everything.
It is a great pleasure to have Morgane (who’s not only talented, but the very embodiment of French chic) as my guest today, who, despite her extremely busy schedule and her being a newly mother, kindly accepted my interview invitation.
What is the story behind Sézane? Why fashion design?
Everything began when my sister left for London and left me 3 bags of old clothes. I took nice pictures of each item and sold them on eBay. Everything sold so quickly! I realized that people liked my work and started hunting vintage items and organize monthly sales on my website, Les Composantes. Gradually I started adding creations that I had designed and created. In 2013, I decided to focus on creation and launched the brand Sézane with Corentin, who joined the adventure. My goal is to sell beautiful creations, clothes for everyday life, that are both useful and beautiful.
Who do you design for? Who is the Sézane woman?
At first, I design something because I feel like I need it and can’t find it anywhere else: the perfect heels, « the » little black dress… The Sézane woman is everybody, from 20 to 50. She loves beautiful materials, perfect cuts… She has an urban life, and is looking for great quality and design at a fair price.
Which is the most challenging part of the design process? What about the most rewarding one?
The most challenging part is making an idea come true. When I design a clothe, I know exactly what I want, the way it looks, the material and the cut. The hardest part is to find the perfect workshop to create it as I want it to be.
Who and what inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere. From people around me, my friends, family, colleagues, but also in the street, when I travel. Life in general, even though it might sound a bit common, it’s true.
How do you strike a balance between changing fashion trends and the essence of Sézane? Do trends ever play a role in your designs?
Sézane is very different from other fashion brands. The idea is not to make a statement, but offer to women clothes that they can wear, that are trendy, but not too hard to pull off. Sézane adds a twist to a classical and timeless outfit, with a nice detail, a special material.
There is a fascination with the French that is unparalleled. Why do French, and especially Parisian, women intrigue us so much? Do French women really hold the key and have the answers to style and beauty? Is there really such a thing as a je ne sais quoi?
I like to think so, even though I don’t know what it is! I think that the power of the French designers, such as Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent… started that myth of the Parisian style. But it is true that in France women have this effortless chic attitude. Not too much make up, simple hair. We don’t make a lot of efforts compared to NY women who always look perfect, wear 12cm heels and can run a marathon! In Paris we are more practical and spontaneous. It’s funny because on our side we always admire the perfect looks of New Yorkers!
You’ve recently collaborated with Madewell for a capsule collection. What is the secret behind a successful collaboration? What differentiates French women from their American counterpoints and what do you think each admires about the other?
The secret behind our collaboration with Madewell is quite simple: we have the same vision of fashion, and I love the brand! Sharing the same vision is important, values too. Also be able to understand each other, and create together rather than forcing the partner to agree with your idea.
French women don’t wear as much colors, they wear more neutral colors such as grey, beige, white, black. I love the talent of American women to mix different colors and patterns together successfully ! We are not as bold in France, except perhaps in summer (she smiles).
You are a self-taught designer. What is your advice to someone who is thinking about taking this path, without having the standard training or studies?
Never stop believing, be extremely demanding towards yourself, always challenge your ideas, but don’t doubt yourself because you don’t have the same background as a student from St Martin’s. Stay confident, and work hard, always.
What is your motto?
Enjoy the moment.
Sézane is only available online. Have you ever thought about opening a brick and mortar shop? How do you see the relationship between physical stores and e-commerce developing in the future?
We developed Sézane as a 100% online business, in order to offer the best materials and designs at a fair price. A brick and mortar is very expensive, and you feel the costs on the price of the clothes. But it is very important to have a physical touchpoint with our customers. Fashion is something that you like to touch, try on… That’s why we are opening our Appartement in Paris in April: a 300m2 studio where customers will be able to schedule an appointment and have a private fitting session. Then they will be able to order online from the Appartement, and receive their order where they want a couple of days later.
What does style mean to you?
Style is so personal! To me, it means feeling good and confident in your clothes.
You wish people appreciated more:
What makes you happy at the end of the day?
Having worked like crazy with my teams, creating, imagining, dreaming, and coming back home to my husband and little girl.
photos: 1,2- courtesy of Morgane / 3-6: Sézane