Loulou Reloulou aka Lisiane Brunet is from Paris, lives in London and makes the most incredible garments. They are hard to describe but the idea is a sort of loose garment with different sleeves and neck holes incorporated. You are meant to share them with one or several people, each of you enjoying the silliness of experimenting with maybe wearing 3 sleeves on one arm and putting one leg through a hole meant for your head. Almost along the lines of a game of Twister turned into a shared outfit. Her work makes you laugh, feel creative and childish.
On the day I meet her it happens to be minus 2, Jack Frost has clearly lost his mind, but our girl is not fazed, rocking up to meet me in little more than a pair of shorts, tights and open-toed, high heeled sandals. She’s very helpfully adorned her hair with fake flowers as well just in case I couldn’t spot her colourful appearance amongst the dowdy commuters. Lisiane lives in a proper studio space with nine other people, each has a room to sleep in and share a large communal space, there’s a collection of bikes hung up on the walls, the largest anglepoise lamp I’ve ever seen in my life and at the back, a furniture workshop, a darkroom, a room with a printing press and a circus space (complete with some fishnet wearing hellcat cracking her whip in irritation at us peering through the window).
Her bedroom is where she keeps her designs neatly hung up, the walls are covered in her drawings and 4 granny wheelie shopping bags are fastidiously parked up, each in a numbered bay. Lisiane’s work area, which is situated in the communal space, is like a small stage set, her table and sewing machine is waiting for her on a raised dais, you can visualise her contentedly sewing away while all around her people are being creative in a Factory-esque way.
Volt Café: What made you move to London?
Lisiane Brunet: I’d started making my designs in Paris, but the atmosphere was not encouraging. I’d visited London before, it seemed crazier and more colourful, less about rules. London is a big mix of nationalities, as a stranger in a country you feel freer. Paris has a very established style and Parisians don’t like to be too out there.
My work needs the people, it’s nothing without the energy of the people inside. My clothes are strange but people are attracted to them so it opens up a dialogue. I’m not sure I really want to be a typical fashion designer – that seems very serious.
VC: To me your clothing is very much like an art installation – do you see yourself as a fashion designer or an artist? What are you hoping to achieve?
LB: I’m attracted to the artist life but I have to think about money – it’s hard to make money as an artist. But I don’t want my need for money to kill my creativity. I just want my clothes to create a moment, to create life and joy. When I’m talking about my work I feel happy about it but sometimes it’s hard. You need to have a strong mind to keep a focus. You might have your dream but reality is very hard. I have this idea and it’s exciting to share it with others.
VC: Who wears your clothes?
LB: People who come to the parties I organise with other artists at Vogue Fabrics and Dalston Superstore, people from the fashion world. My ideas are universal and people understand them straight away. Some people aren’t so free initially but once they’ve been shown, they love it. It’s a lot easier to organise a party in London whereas in Paris it seemed quite strange. People in London go out every night of the week! In Paris, it’s Saturday only.
VC: What inspires you?
LB: I’m inspired by odd textiles. I find them in charity shops and markets in Paris, sometimes my friends bring me materials. Often I don’t know where my ideas come from. I like to watch people, sometimes it’s really simple stuff like getting an idea from seeing the way people sit together on a sofa. And the gay boys – they are experimental and free which really inspires me. I think it’s important to do many things, to mix it up. That’s why I love where I live and work in Hackney Wick, I’m surrounded by artists doing different things.
VC: Who would you like to collaborate with?
LB: I try to meet people who can add something, people who make films for instance. I’d like to mix my work with dance or film. I’d love to meet Charlie Le Mindu, I feel a strange connection to him.
VC: Who do you admire?
LB: I love Jean-Paul Goude. And Vivienne Westwood. I like older people with a very crazy style, when I see her, I can tell she’s very young inside. And Jean Paul Gaultier, not so much for his clothes, but his public persona is very lovely, not serious at all! I want the freedom to be happy like that. I’m very lucky to be doing what I do. OK, money’s a problem but it’s an atmosphere of freedom.
VC: How would you sum up who you are and what you do?
LB: I create clothes to get an excuse to play with others – I’m quite shy and it allows me to invent characters. I design strange clothes to create this world of fantasy and I make up stories around it. When I was a child I played a lot by myself. Now I can do it on a much bigger scale, which is very exciting. In a way I’m like a musician, my sewing machine is my instrument! My game is good, no?!
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsanna bang, Dalston Superstore, LouLou ReLouLou, Vogue Fabrics,