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Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret: the butcher’s apron that shaped my sense of dress

The French fashion designer selects the objects that inspired him

The French fashion designer selects the objects that inspired him

June/July 2020

This butcher’s apron is where it all began
This apron was supposed to be my future. It’s a contradiction – everything I rejected and everything that created me. My dad was a butcher in Lourdes and I used to wear it when I helped him in the shop. It was a family business. I was seven years old and the apron touched the floor, like a gown.

I knew I didn’t want to become a butcher but I was the only kid in the village who got to wear this amazing piece of fabric. I learned how to fold it and tuck it when it got dirty. It was the first drape I did. Everything started with that first movement. I wore it every day and it shaped my sense that clothes should be unique and different but at the same time like a uniform. I still believe that my job is to make glamorous uniforms.

This hanger is my way of making a difference
Every year millions of single-use plastic hangers are discarded by the fashion industry. It’s our dirty little secret. I’ve tried to make a difference. Last year I collaborated with a young Dutch company, Arch & Hook, to design this 100% recyclable hanger made from plastic waste collected from the sea. It’s a long journey, getting the fashion industry to change its ways. But I’m proud to be trying.

This stone reminds me of the human form I design for
This is a Gorgotte stone from Fontainebleau in France. It’s the most beautiful sculpture that nature has done. It’s magical, a fairy stone. I keep it in my pocket. It has such a human shape. You can lose yourself in looking at it. All my life I’ve been touching muscle, bone and fat. It’s like you’re reading someone, learning about their life. When I touch this stone, memories of people come back to me. It’s very emotional.

This painting made me feel like a child again
One day Damien Hirst asked me to do a painting with him. It was one of the best moments of my life creatively. We stood on a balcony and threw paint onto a massive revolving wheel below. It was like being a child again. Damien allowed me to stop the wheel when I wanted to, to say “It’s done.” He gave me the power to define the end result. I will never forget it.

The Galaxy dress designed itself in my hands
I wanted to design a dress for a real woman, not a catwalk model. A dress that could be worn with a bra. I have no technical education and I never went to fashion school. In a way, I didn’t design the Galaxy dress – it decided to be designed through my hands. It exists because I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s a dress that allows women to be who they are, not what someone else tells them to be. Women still need the Galaxy dress in their wardrobe. Recently I went to the store and a young woman in her 30s was buying it. This dress is bigger than me. I love that, because it means I’m known for my work. I feel like a 1980s pop star who had a massive number one.

This sculpture feeds my creativity
This black clay head was sculpted by my husband, James Webster. For me it sums up the emotion of his generation – he’s 17 years younger than me. When you’re creative and you’re married to another creative person, there are four of you in the relationship: two people plus two creativities. I couldn’t imagine not liking what he does. I take one of his sculptures with me wherever I go. His creativity feeds mine.

As told to Arthur House