Diana d’Orville founder Audrey Tasiaux exclusive interview for Forbes by Angela Lei.
Click here to Forbes article!
Audrey Tasiaux wasn’t destined to work in fashion — she had an International Politics background — specialized in terrorism no less. But it was no denying that her “inner flame of creativity was burning deep-down,” and along the journey where Tasiaux was looking for the ideal pieces to travel in, her brand Diana d’Orville was born — “a sustainable, luxury objets d’art radiant with joy, celebrating illustrious French craftsmanship and graceful freedom of movement.”
Having grown up in Monaco, the half Belgian, half Swiss designer chose to name her brand after her chic grandmother, whose “extreme refinement and art of twisting ordinary things into something exceptional, tinted with a good old-fashioned dose of humor” forever inspired Tasiaux.
Well-read, thoroughly-researched and from what I can gather, worldly with a great sense of humor, Tasiaux isn’t your typical fashion dreamer who pursued the farfetched stars and the moon. Diana d’Orville’s pieces are designed to make you feel fabulous from that morning espresso to the red carpet. No one describes it better than Tasiaux herself: “A practical wardrobe of sumptuous essentials I could simply jump into and that would allow me to concentrate on the single most important thing: what I want to experience and achieve as a woman.”
The brand’s resort aesthetics reflect Tasiaux’ South of France upbringing, featuring a number of key, classic styles such as flowy kaftans, light open coats, and loose-fitting jackets paired with wide-legged palazzo pants. Most pieces are one-off designs that are made-to-order, with the main differences being the drastically varying fabrics used as well as the bold, often intrinsic prints and patterns featured. Intrigued by her background, outlook and understanding of what the real French chic is, I speak to Tasiaux to find out more about Diana d’Orville.
Angela Lei: What is the inspiration behind your design?
Audrey Tasiaux: I like to think of Diana d’Orville pieces as a multi-sensorial odyssey — inspiration can be triggered by a childhood fragrance, a music (from Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave to a big rave drop or Pino d’Angio!), a neo-classical sculpture or Ancient Semitic archeological sites. Literature has always been a powerful source of inspiration for me — Diana d’Orville is an eclectic blend of Fitzgerald’s 1920s jazzy Riviera, Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, Slim Aarons’ Riviera clichés and Hitchock’s To Catch a Thief spirit.
I was lucky to travel to remote off-beaten tracks in places where I’ve had the chance to discover different cultures and folkloores. You can find many references across our collections, blending history periods, art movements, civilizations myths and legends. The vibrant South of France where I grew up is an endless source of imagination — my creative itinerary is a love affair with its sun-infused vibrant colors, the timeless enchantment of its peaceful fishermen villages, the quintessence of Belle Époque Extravaganza at Villa Ephrussi, which is 20minutes away from the atelier where the Diana saga began — no wonder it inspired so many artists over the centuries from Matisse to Braque, Signac and Dufy!
AL: Having named your brand after your grandmother, what’s your fondest memory of her?
AT: Crystal flakes of perfumes and curious objets d’art around her house and her love of botanics I inherited from her. Her elegant gestures, the way she comes into a room and instantly lightens it up, and most definitely…her looks! I remember her arriving at Church for my confirmation ceremony like an extravagant Madone covered in psychedelic prints and cacophonous jewelry. It could have been a monumental kitsch fashion faux-pas yet she has the art of making it terribly elegant and tasteful.
And probably the best lesson I’ve received from her — her straightforward way of speaking her mind without caring a single jot what people may think!
AL: To you, what’s the real French chic as opposed to what Emily in Paris had people believe?
AT: There are two things you cannot do to the French: putting ice-cubes in a glass of red wine and distorting their fashion culture. Holy crêpe! French style is about clean lines, sober color palettes that generate space to breathe, and from where natural beauty emanates. French style is practical, effortless chic: it is an allure and a spirit, it is Charlotte Gainsbourg, Ines de la Fressange, Caroline de Maigret and Carla Bruni — far from the styles showcased in Emily in Paris.
Don’t get me wrong, I binged-watched the series in just a few days (or hours?) and am eagerly impatient for season 3! However, in no universe (or multiverse…or shall I say today, metaverse!?) does a shoe-printed coat exist in the French Chic repertoire. I’m pretty sure a good bunch of style-savvy Parisians would sign a Cease & Desist petition for Emily’s bowtie chokers, or the superimposing of patterns, layers, over-done hair and make-up, the berets, the mittens, the white go-go booties…! I’m never against a print parade (I’ve built my brand essentially around bold prints!) but this accumulation is just at the antipodes of French chic.
Having said that, I am a huge fan of Patricia Field’s work — after all, my passion for playful blends of patterns, materials and colors was triggered by Carrie’s legendary looks in Sex and the City from early childhood. From a French perspective, criticizing the stereotyped intentional cliché she’s taken on Emily is everything we adore — our very own Madeleine de Proust! And we all secretly cannot wait for next season!
AL: Diana d’Orville defines the South of France style so well, graceful, airy and effortless. But as a young brand and founder/designer, what does sustainability mean to you?
AT: Sustainability is not an option anymore but necessary to our survival and to a peaceful future. It is our responsibility as designers, consumers, investors and regulators to drive change. In an industry that is still widely opaque on its practices, I think Artificial Intelligence (and blockchain tech to a certain extent) are going to fast-forward this sustainable movement as they enable a more traceable way of producing, therefore more transparency encouraging more reasonable ways of consuming. I particularly think of Daniella Loftus’ impressive digital fashion project ‘This Outfit Does Not Exist’ which concretely harnesses these issues in a creative way that opens a new virtuous cycle of infinite possibilities.
It has taken me a very long time and countless quality and background checks to partner with suppliers that share our values: local production, reducing our carbon footprint wherever possible, no chemicals involved in the process, no plastic, no water or harming dyes, and long-term mutually beneficial vision.
And personally, growing up in an environment where lifestyles are based on the rhythms of nature and l’amour du bon produit is a mindset,… to love is to care for, protect and preserve, whether it is in the choices I make in terms of food, home cleaning products, skincare or daily habits towards less waste.
AL: What’s next for Diana d’Orville?
AT: We have just signed an exclusive collection for the idyllic Eden Rock St Barths!
I’m also keeping an eye on the recent hustle and bustle around crypto wearables —anything controversial is worth digging a bit! Blending cutting-edge technology with ancestral craftsmanship could be a potential fun project to embark on. If it can inspire anyone reading this article — I’m open!
You can now buy Diana d’Orville’s chic pieces at www.dianadorville.com.
LINKS TO FORBES CONTRIBUTOR ANGELA LEI – LinkedIn