Thank you Elle Arabia for this exclusive interview! Diana d’Orville founder Audrey Tasiaux speaks about her inspirations driving her creative itinerary, fashion & politics & sustainability.
Find full article on Elle Arabia’s website here.
And translated as below:
Tell us about your start and what made you choose fashion as a career?
I wasn’t pre-destined at all to work in fashion. I have a Politics & International Relations background – a galaxy away! Yet the fire of creativity was flowing deep within me since childhood (I used to draw on walls… to my parents desperation!) – the Diana d’Orville saga was born out of that inner flame.
Throughout extensive travelling, I was looking for ‘hero pieces’ in which I would feel fabulous ‘from my morning espresso to the red carpet’ that would allow me to concentrate on the essential : what I want to experience & achieve as a woman – living life in full bloom! After all, fashion shouldn’t be a big deal – we arrived and will leave this planet…naked!
One day, after an extremely delayed plane and no other choice than getting ready in the taxi for an elegant reception in London, I jumped into a silk Palazzo pair inherited from my grandmother Diana that was inspired by Russian Princess Irene Galitzine (an absolute icon of 1960s dolce vita & eclectic refinement.) An extravagant second-skin made from the finest materials with sensational effects celebrating freedom of movement & grace. From then on, I decided to craft myself a practical wardrobe of timeless sumptuous pieces, anchored into illustrious French couture heritage and convenient for any situation.
Back home in Monaco, I was very lucky to find a wonderful seamstress who helped me get it right & gradually built a network of French & Italian suppliers. I honestly didn’t expect so much enthusiasm around the pieces, orders from family & friends skyrocketed …and the Diana d’Orville adventure started!
From where do you get your inspiration?
It is literally everywhere! It can be a childhood fragrance, a conversation, watching a sunset, a music (to which I’m very sensitive). I get inspiration especially from books – from biographies to fiction to romantic novels & poems! I can’t sleep at night without reading a few pages. Books are such a powerful way to stimulate imagination, an invitation to plunge into different dimensions, characters, visions of life.
Museums – I could stay hours dreaming in front of a painting (it happened recently at Musée de l’Orangerie in front of a Monet Nymphea giant mural!).
I was lucky to travel a lot with my family since my early childhood, where I’ve had the chance to discover different cultures, perspectives, folkloores. You can find many parallels in each collection, blending history periods, East & Western civilizations ancient myths & tales.
My grandmother Diana – to whom I tribute my work – also drives my creative itinerary – a fabulous woman whose elegance, extreme refinement & ability to give everyday small things an extraordinary twist, tinted with a lot of humor. Each Diana d’Orville piece is dedicated to the heroins I am surrounded by and admire.
What is the secret behind your creativity?
I brainstorm in nature – the vibrant French Riviera where I grew up is a powerful source of creativity – wether it is the colors, the shapes, the lights. No wonder it inspired so many artists through centuries! I wake up very early in the morning to go swim in the Mediterranean at sunrise – magical ‘me-time’ moments that recharge & drive creativity. As Christian Dior once said ‘You can never really go wrong if you take Nature as an example’ – I couldn’t agree more! I have a particular passion for flowers & botanics which hold a proper language.
I make moodboards all the time & carry a notebook where I literally write & draw everything that pops up in my mind! It’s a little bit messy but always come out in the form of collections bursting with powerful colors & joy!
How do you describe fashion in the 20’s?
Fashion has become inherently political. There is a very interesting parallel between 1920s context & the 2020’s – although a century apart, both decades’ socio-political turmoils point toward a point of rupture that fashion keeps on reflecting throughout history. Although fashion & politics have never been binary, they are more than ever under the spotlight today.
As a mirror to our times, fashion today drives today’s crucial debates around feminism, pluralism, class-consciousness, ecology – just as it did in the post-WWI Roaring Twenties context in the West. Women’s sufffrage movements, Dada Art Movements, globalization intensification & industrial revolution marked a huge paradigm shift in Western society – for example, women could make their own way in society & upgrade their level of playing in the fashion field which was for centuries reserved to ladies of the upper crust walking around with their noses in the air. It also marked the beginning of their united social (thus political) power characterized by a widespread change in attitudes – for example no longer was it uncommon for a “young lady” to go out drinking or to go out all dancing all night at some jazz filled speakeasy, nor was it uncommon for her to assert herself, speak her mind, vote, or work at a job.
The main difference today is the rise of social media that demultiplicated exponentially political allegiance pledges. Designers today aren’t only making clothes – they are driving change by harnessing their power to call attention on social, environmental, economic issues. What you make, how you make it, how you speak about what you’ve made – it’s all politics! Designers who say ‘NO’ to fashion spinning as fast & furiously as it did in the past five decades, insisting on a collective slowdown with smarter collections – I think about Dries Van Noten, Tory Burch and Erdem Moralioglu among those who signed an “Open Letter to the Fashion Industry”.
There is a recent burst of creativity opening gateways to new ways of producing & consuming fashion – wether it is Iris van Herpen’s technological designs, Dani Loftus’ ‘This Outfit Doesn’t Exist’. That creative spark led by diversity & more inclusion (finally!!!) means more stories, more ideas, more concepts stimulating critical thinking & concrete action.
There are countless other examples of this kind of intertwining throughout historical periods of rupture: I think about the French Revolution when the sans-culottes wore trousers as a sign of working-class/revolutionary belonging, the beatknik counterculture protesting the Vietnam War & consumerism in the 1960s, the 1980s ‘Greed is Good’ maximalist suits reflecting Raegan’s corporate triumphalism, the Black Panthers leather jackets to signal their deputization as a counter–police force in the 70s.
It is very exciting to be a designer today – because you can help drive change.
Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
Diana d’Orville is my grandmother’s maiden name who I’m very close to – a woman whose elegance and charm defies time, and who remains my grandest inspiration up to date. My vision for Diana d’Orville is to ignite the same inspiration to others that I received from her – probably to make her live forever too.
I hope Diana d’Orville wearable objets d’art will continue to sublimate women through confidence, freedom of movement celebrating chic effortlessness, traditional French couture as a staple of ethical luxury business.
In your opinion which celebrity fits best in your designs?
So many women I think of when I design my collections! Particular icons are Dalida, Cher, Grace Kelly, Romy Schneider, Diana Ross & Grace Jones. I am lucky my designs have an appeal to many different women of different ages & cultures. I see women like Carmen Busquets, Jessica & Rita Kahawaty, Fatima Almonen, Carla Bruni or Sheika Fatima wearing some of our silk palazzos & luxurious gowns.
What is your fashion advice for the best style?
Confidence! Joy! And subtle color palettes. My mother is a painter, and always taught me the importance of colors blends & undertones – don’t be afraid to play with patterns & fabric, as long as it embraces YOUR body and bring you bliss. Keeping a clear skin, hair & nails are I think the number one non-negotiable base!
Which celebrity you believe has the fashion style?
Loulou de la Falaise – to me, the absolute essence of ecletic elegance playing with subtle mixes of proportions, surprising colors, daring but always so much allure– and fun! Danish stylist & creative director Emili Sindlev & Queen Rania of Jordania are also to me big trendsetters.