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Diana d’Orville, the fashion house for sustainable luxury, was founded in 2019 in Monaco. With its silky and sizzling robes –Made in France – the label immediately garnered success. The elegant and refined pieces are inspired by art and civilizations through the ages. Like real works of art, they are limited editions or even unique ones. It is clothing with a soul. We spoke to founder Audrey Tasiaux.
WHAT IS DIANA D’ORVILLE?
Our collections are made to be worn all day long: ‘from your morning espresso to the red carpet’. They are an ode to colour, the Mediterranean art of living and the rich French fashion history. We give the classic idea of luxury a post-modern touch, drawing on craftsmanship, technology and traditional screen printing.
All pieces contain subtle historical and literary references. Without falling into nostalgia, they allow us to reflect on Time, a precious possession for those who want to give their life meaning.
This is my answer to the volatile and hectic fashion industry: respect for the rhythm of nature, the beauty of a seamstress’s work, the emotional value we attach to a piece of clothing that we keep, cherish and pass on to the next generations . The time to find the right materials, wait for the cut, pleats and finishes to be just right. The time to give each customer the attention they deserve and build long-term relationships with all the partners we work with.
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE FOUNDING THE LABEL DIANA D’ORVILLE?
I was fortunate to grow up in a close-knit family in sunny Monaco on the Mediterranean. I studied International Business in London, after which I followed a Master’s degree in political science with a specialization in terrorism in Brussels. So it was not my intention at all that I would end up in the fashion world. I started working in the media, art and publishing industry and worked in Paris, London, Monaco and Hong Kong.
WHY DID YOU START YOUR OWN BRAND?When I was little, I used to draw on the walls, much to my parents’ despair! I think I’ve always had that creativity in me, it just took some time, a bit like a time bomb! Designing (and wearing) a piece of clothing is a very tangible way to express yourself, both personally and politically. Just think of the Sans-culottes during the French Revolution of 1789, the Black Panthers in the 1970s, the boyish ‘garçonnes’ from the Roaring Twenties… They all used their clothes to express their urge for emancipation and their political displeasure. They say that “all roads lead to Rome”, my ways have clearly brought me to Diana d’Orville! Besides the product itself, this brand is a melting pot of everything that touches, inspires and moves me.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW: “I’M GOING TO DO SOMETHING WITH FASHION”?Through my Political Science study, I quickly understood that the environment and the irresponsible production methods of the past fifty years brought with them enormous problems. The disaster with the Rana Plaza, the current situation of the Uyghurs or my stay as a volunteer in the refugee camp Moria on the Greek Lesvos…
The world really keeps turning. However, in the ethical and eco-friendly fashion, I didn’t find eclectic, fun and chic clothes that I could wear everywhere and in which I could really have fun. I kept swinging back and forth between disposable fast fashion and the cliché of the shapeless harem pants of germinated seeds! When I landed in London one evening with massive delays and thus much too late for a black tie reception, I changed into a taxi in a hurry. I quickly donned a sixties silk suit… and got a standing ovation from the London fashion police. Plus, it was comfortable and I felt great all night!
That’s how I got the idea to design my own clothes, like a second skin, half armor, half cocoon. I made my pieces from delicious materials that flattered my body perfectly. On my return to Monaco I found silk suppliers and a great sewing machine (known as the Rolls Royce of sewing machines) and so Diana d’Orville was born! The name Diana d’Orville is a tribute to my grandmother Diana. Her refinement, knowledge, extravagance and vitality remain for me an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
WHERE ELSE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?Everywhere! I read a lot, I’ve been a huge bookworm since I was little! I have been lucky enough to travel off the beaten track and discover the magic of the local cultures. I am passionate about oriental art, and the themes of folklore, myths and legends are repeated in my collections. But there are also the Hitchcock films, heroines from novels, images of female Cossacks racing across the steppe on horseback, mythical icons from the queens of Carthage to Grace Jones in her Studio 54 period or Loulou de la Falaise and her tall cigarette holder. .
That’s the type of woman I have in mind when I’m working. The light and the shimmering shimmer of the Mediterranean where I grew up, the work of Matisse, Dufy, Braque, Cézanne and Zao Wou-ki, which I have always loved. My mother is a painter and I think she introduced my sister and I very early on to the power of colors and the surprising mixtures of shades and halftones. Music can also touch me, from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Slavic March’ to a loud bang at a rave! I find inspiration everywhere and it never ends. And you can see all those impressions in the prints and color palettes of my collections.
HOW DO YOU START YOUR OWN MODEL LABEL IN THE ERA OF ECOLOGICAL RESPONSIBILITY AND SLOW FASHION?
To be honest, I didn’t really have a plan. The beginning was therefore rather messy and I finally missed the mark a number of times! I knew nothing about it, I learned everything by trial and error. When it comes to environmental friendliness and slow fashion, that actually came very naturally. My childhood in the south is probably something in between: there is an abundance of quality products and people still respect life. Apart from the current ‘fashion’ of being ecologically responsible, it made sense for me to set up a healthy and humane business model. And of course it’s not just about clothes. It’s just a way of life: responsible consumption of local seasonal produce with a short supply chain.
Buy less and smarter, consciously spend time in nature, use natural products instead of cleaning products (think of grandmother’s remedies)… In other words, keep it simple! But beware of Greenwashing and the terms “Sustainable/Environmentally Responsible” which are used frequently for marketing purposes only. I am convinced that the rise of blockchain technology will have a positive impact on the fashion industry, especially in terms of traceability.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE IN YOUR COLLECTION?Everything is ‘sustainable’, from the raw materials to the packaging. It is also made in France and does not contain any plastic or derivatives. The protective covers are reusable organic cotton tote bags that you can still use to go to the market or the beach! We mainly work with silk and embroidered French brocade, really beautiful! We have recently also started testing ecological materials such as cupro, which has a lovely drape, and mixtures of recycled viscose and polyester.
WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?All fabrics come from leftovers from French haute couture houses and from family silk factories on Lake Como in Italy. Silk has been produced there since the Rinascimento and the Medici and we have specific agreements for silk and satin. Their craftsmanship is extraordinary and their factory secrets are passed down from generation to generation. I like this family and artisan atmosphere.
HOW DO YOU SELECT YOUR SUPPLIERS?I work directly and personally with each supplier. I take the time to find and talk to him or her. Some have even become friends! I have a trusting relationship with each of them with a long-term vision. I consider myself lucky to be able to work in these circumstances.
HOW ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS IS YOUR LABEL? WHAT MAKES IT A SUSTAINABLE BRAND?Diana d’Orville is not only environmentally conscious, we are also committed to social initiatives. I am convinced that the two go hand in hand. We regularly participate in charity galas and online promotions. We were recently involved through international NGOs in aid to Lebanon and in education programs for women in Congo and Madagascar. And now that it’s winter, I invite everyone through Diana d’Orville who wants to help with food distributions. As far as the environment is concerned, our entire value chain is focused on minimizing our ecological footprint: sourcing, local production and a short chain (minimum transport, support of the local economy and of craftsmanship that is becoming increasingly rare due to mass relocation handcrafted in our workshop, natural, recycled or recyclable materials, traceable, without water or chemicals that affect the colors and reusable, plastic-free packaging.
The collections are planned just in time or on request – they are unique pieces or super limited editions. In this way we avoid overproduction and we can maintain a zero stock. Thanks to their high quality, the pieces can be worn through the seasons, they last, are cherished and passed on to the next generations. This is, of course, in stark contrast to disposable fashion.
OFTEN, SUSTAINABLE BRANDS CHOOSE PRETTY NEUTRAL AND TIMELESS PIECES. YOUR COLLECTION, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS FULL OF COLOUR, VIBRANT PRINTS AND SPARKLING MATERIALS. IS THIS A CONSCIOUS CHOICE?
Yes, of course. I want to bring fashion that radiates and bursts with life, an ode to joy. Fashion that is also environmentally conscious at the same time. It is a long process and it is not always easy, but it is possible and well worth it!
WHAT IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
From the start I have had a very international and eclectic clientele. From my sister’s millennial BFFs to my grandmother’s more conservative girlfriends (although, conservative…they were 20 in ’68!), from Middle Eastern princesses to American businesswomen and Asian powerwomen. But they all have something in common: they are women with character, they have a certain culture, they appreciate beautiful things, are passionate and sunny, they love to travel and enjoy life.
They remind me a bit of my grandmother Diana.
HOW CAN WE WEAR COLORFUL PRINTS ALL YEAR WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE HOMEWEAR/PYJAMAS?
Jewellery! Family jewellery, fantasy jewelery or endless diamonds… But always jewellery!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR PIECES?
They are available on our website www.dianadorville.com, at pop-ups and private events, and at luxury hotels like the Eden Rock in St Barths, for which I just signed an exclusive capsule collection. We also design many custom designs, such as wedding outfits for girlfriends.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?I hope to continue making collections, together with artists and luxury brands. I’d also like to build on the recently launched Diana d’Orville podcast. They are mini film interviews with fascinating personalities such as Vincent Darré. And then, the NFTs…who knows!