Artist Marguerite Bartherotte, in her atelier in Cap Ferret
I believe in style. But I believe in style in a bigger context. Because style is something that permeates every aspect of our life. And I want to highlight originality and individuality and expressivity.
G.Kero, founded by brother and sister Phillipe and Marguerite Bartherotte, is the kind of brand that harnersses that singular beauty vibe that makes the difference between fashion and style. The kind of brand that creates clothes as to showcase unique beings (the wearers) in the world, who live life as a conscient choice. The kind of brand that likes to push boundaries, while embracing comfort and beauty. The kind of brand that keeps its artistic perspective and only makes limited edition collections.
In this world of mass consumption and impulse buying, G.Kero stands apart through its commitment to true style, mankind and the planet. It reminds us that we need to educate ourselves and redefine our concepts of need and desire. That we’d rather spend our time tending to happiness than chasing and replacing fast fashion.
Whilst searching for a fresh alternative to traditional gallery canvases, artist Marguerite Bartherotte turned her hands to fashion. She makes fashion that lasts (the fact that G.Kero carries a permanent collection says a lot in this regard), fashion that makes a statement not only through creativity but also through the message it seems to carry: follow your convictions and instinct, not the trends, be yourself – that woman who likes to wear an original drawing or painting on her shirt instead of a pattern.
”The biggest challenge is also to refuse
to get rich as a goal in itself.”
Tell me a little bit about the story behind your brand. How did it come to be? How did you start merging art with fashion?
I was already a painter/drawer when I was young. I grew up doing that. When I was 21, I was studying cartoon at La Cambre in Brussels because I found out that movement in art was very attractive. I escaped school at 22 and started G.Kero. I had had enough with it. At that time, my brother Philippe was in Rio and asked me to do some drawings to print his own t-shirts. He spent months there and he was always wearing a simple t-shirt. He was frustrated because as it was his daily outfit, he couldn’t find one right for him. As for me, the idea was to escape from the virtual world and jump into the real one. My drawings will not be seen behind a screen but on people. It’s like a revenge for me.
If you could capture the essence of G.Kero in one sentence, how would you describe it?
G.Kero is an artistical reaction to the environment.
Who do you design for? Who is the G.Kero woman?
I design for everybody, cats and dogs. The G.Kero woman can be found in one of them, she looks free from what’s going on in the fashion world.
The book “Adieu l’Afrique” by Mirella Ricciardi was your first source of inspiration, at a very early age. Are there any other books/artists that have influenced you along the way? How did you continue to pursue your interest in art?
Of course there are lots of books or paintings or whatever, even if not consciously. I was a kid. Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Rembrandt, Walt Disney’s characters, such as Mowglie, Basquiat, my mother’s photographs of us, and my older brothers’ and sisters’ drawings. I was crazy about them. I have never reached a stronger emotion regarding art since discovering their drawings when I was 6, hahaha! When you are bitten as a kid, I guess you open the art channel for life so it goes on and on and on with every different artist you meet on your way.
You paint directly on fabric. How difficult was it to master this technique?
It was first easy when it was just black and white drawings, a line on a t-shirt with a pencil. I found more difficulties when it eventually became a painting with details and different layers, etc. Painting on fabrics needs lots of patience, but as I don’t like complicated things, I think I kept it simple enough. I simplify what I would do on paper. In time, I’ve developed a painting style which is done for clothes. But, you know, I mostly print my artwork, I paint or draw on paper and then it is printed all over the fabric. It is very interesting because I don’t know where it will actually end up. I try not to control to make magic happen.
The G.Kero clothes are made of cotton, cashmere or silk and are crafted in the best family workshops in Portugal. What’s the biggest challenge of a socially conscious fashion brand?
The biggest challenge would eventually be to still exist in a hundred years. When you spend more money than you win with a little brand, you can’t stay on forever. If you bring beauty into this world, you will have to fight; on the contrary, if you make business, there is always a place for you. We have to be able to make both art and business to make art exist. It would be to create clothes that last for years, too. It is to be the contrary of Zara or H&M. You can give your shirt to your daughter years after because the quality is good.
”To me, beautiful living is to create …
or to be free to do what you want to do.
To be able to think. Lots of people are sheep
and seem to ignore it. It’s scary.”
The textile industry and its products have shaped the contemporary world more than anything else. The disposal of textile waste is one of the biggest preoccupations we have at the moment. How do you see the future of fashion? Do you think there is a significatly increased interest in the locally-made, in craftsmanship and mindful shopping or do you think it will take mass action to curb our addiction to mass-produced, cheap products? And what do you think is the first thing every individual should do in order to address this issue, any tip that may help someone else just starting out on their sustainable journey?
I think that the future of fashion will be paradoxal as the reflexion of our society. On one hand, you’ll see more and more shops of the kind of Zara opening, and they steal the original ideas of young creators like me, and, on the other hand, you will see new locally made or small production little brands like us. I think that, unfortunately, the bad education and this massive monster which is consummerism will lead us to the end. I think that people should only buy clothes that last and that are produced in factories where poor people are not exploited to increase rentability. That way, Zara, Topshop and H&M would close soon.
The clothes you design have a carefree, joyous, distinctive attitude, an attitude that’s transmitted through your campaigns as well. They remind me of the fashion of the late 80s-early 90s, when designers, models and people still had fun with fashion, when women wore the clothes, not the other way around, when individuality still mattered. Have women stopped having fun with fashion?
Of course not! I can see lots of women around me happy to meet G.Kero. Maybe they have a reaction to the boring propositions they are surrounded by. Sometimes there is a contre-pieds to the massive tendency. It’s enough for us to live on.
We live in a hectic world and more and more people are trying to go back to basics, to find a balance, to live mindfully. Your art and your clothes seem to carry this message of living simply and expressing yourself freely. What does beautiful living mean to you?
It’s a big question! To me, beautiful living is to create … or to be free to do what you want to do. To be able to think. Lots of people are sheep and seem to ignore it. It’s scary.
It can also be just to do things in a positive mood, whatever you do.
I think that your life is beautiful when what you do brings you lucky things.
We can see the whole life like a giant picture, and see if there is harmony and colours in it… I do this often. When you keep on exchanging with people, when you travel to see and hear and feel different cultures, you enlarge your world and make it flamboyant.
Speaking of a multicultural background, you grew up in Cap Ferret in France, went to school in Belgium and have lived in Paris. How has each place informed you creatively?
Very, very differently, but in a logical continuation. Cap Ferret was the most important one because it was simple: to draw in my room and to read were my only temptation. No cinéma, no Disneyland, no music, no football, no zoo, etc.
My mother had 7 children and we grew up quite free. If you got bored because you didn’t find any activity, no one was finding it for you. Once I came to my mother to tell her I had nothing to do, and she answered: “you can work in the garden… “. From that day I preferred to invent stories in my room. She sent me to Rome when I was 18 after the bacc and I was painting a lot. Afterwards I entered a school in Brussels for 2 years and it changed me a lot. I didn’t want to enter the gallery world anymore because it’s not fun. I needed my art to be more entertaining and more involved in the concrete life. It’s fun that my brother asked me to make some t-shirts at that moment. I was more than ready to create G.Kero… And he gave me the kick to do it.
What advice would you give someone with their own idea or dream?
Flow with your deeper energy. If you crash, it’s no big deal!
”The last good movie I’ve watched was The Kid
by Charlie Chaplin. It’s the most poetic and cutest thing
that’s happened to me at the cinema.”
What does style mean to you?
Style happens when the elegance in you looks like yours and it will never be boring to look at you. Fashion passes, style stays.
You feel your best dressed in:
Whatever… If I feel good when my body’s feels good. I like comfortable clothes. But I can’t go out if I have no style! Let’s do both.
I’m happy we don’t wear corsets anymore!
I usualy wear high-size pants and a long coat in winter, with a colourful silk scarf.
The best in summer would be something very light: short pants and a large blouse attached au dessus de la taille. Happy when the wind enters my shirt …
When I have the colours that match together…
Lots of possibilities, that’s why it’s very hard to answer briefly.
What is your one favourite thing to do in Cap Ferret/Paris and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world?
If I left Cap Ferret, I would miss the direct communication with all G.Kero fans that come to my atelier. The beautiful place I got. If I left Paris, I would miss all those crazy healthy food places.
One thing you can not start the day without:
I need some light! When the sky is blue, it helps!
So where would we find you when not working?
Ooh, travelling everywhere, all the time! As much as possible. In the nature, of course, and as often as possible. I like Bidart (South-West coast, France), Portugal, Italy, Sicily …
I am a film lover and I have to ask: do you have a favourite movie? What about the latest good film you’ve watched?
Les enfants du Paradis. Because the French poet Jacques Prévert wrote the dialogue and it’s brilliant. The actors are something that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s very tasty and deep. It’s art.
The last good movie I’ve watched, and I’m happy you asked, was The Kid by Charlie Chaplin. It’s a masterpiece of cinema muet for me. The way Chaplin and the kid move in that film is so talented and amusing that it brings a sensation of fulfillment. It’s the most poetic and cutest thing that’s happened to me at the cinema. It made me happy for many days.
I completely agree with you, Marguerite, about Les enfants du Paradis, and about The Kid, too. The artistic part is something very rare in cinema today and that’s why I will probably always favour classic films over contemporary films. The values were different back then, too. In this time and age, what do you wish people appreciated more?
Elegance and taste. And expressivity!
What makes you happy at the end of the day?
To share something with a friend or somebody I like. For example, that movie!
photos: courtesy of G.Kero