An Heirloom Inherited, Repaired, Reconstructed, and Now Retransmitted
By Long Nguyen
This was a black strappy beaded dress that my grandmother gave to my mother, who in turn gave to me as she did with a lot of her clothes. This dress, in particular, was a little damaged at the bottom, so I had to repair it, then add some black beadings here and here, and also I made a lace bolero cape for an extra cover of the shoulders.
– Julie de Libran.
On her left hand, she showed the black strappy chiffon beaded dress now as a combo garment paired with the black thin sheer cape on a cool afternoon at her loft space home-studio in the school district on the southern side of the Boulevard Raspail. For this dress and others in the collection, de Libran is adding embellishments as well as a cape over the shoulders.
Circularity, sustainability, and green practice certification are undoubtedly the latest buzzwords in fashion, especially among luxury brands doing their best to woo young consumers by showing some direct environmental damage of unruly production and consumption cycles. But to put the idea of profound waste control into real-life practice is another matter entirely different.
Founded in June 2019, Julie de Libran’s niche independent fashion company produced only limited series merchandised. The designer showed a limited series of ready-to-wear category and more artistic and craft-oriented couture pieces during the Paris couture seasons.
The new collection showed de Libran’s versatile clothes in the different pieces can be mélange with each other and still form a cohesive wardrobe. The focus isn’t on-trend or on viral fashion – something in the currency of the prevailing winds now that is inexistent standing near the glass door to the garden area of the designer’s Paris home.
This privacy and this intimacy are part of the clothes.
For this collection, de Libran is thinking more about a young woman’s wardrobe and how the clothes fulfill different needs. A navy wool coat with brass buttons made by Goosens can be a coat, coat/dress, or paired with a white lacy skirt or a long white cotton skirt and corset top. Or an olive green long sleeve shirt jacket with brass buttons is either with a matching skirt or with any jeans giving alternatives to each piece, which are in limited editions due to the provenance of materials.
The orange short sheath dress with elaborate stones embroidery or a great light yellow tulle chiffon short cape dress for the evening. These are subtle, elegant in their proper ways without being loud.
De Libran acknowledged that it had been easier to obtain dead stock and old fabrics from mills and other manufacturers this past year than before. She even re-used leftover fabrics from a Charvet collaboration a year ago into a blue and white cotton stripe blouse with puffy white sleeves and a short skirt. Elsewhere, a standout dress is the long floral long sleeve dress with a ruffled cape in a slightly sparkling metallic silk print.
It is refreshing to see a small fashion business like de Libran’s that is certain about its values and values embraced by the young women espousing this fashion mood. Here the circularity model functions as it should and in a transparent manner.
“For this dress, I had asked about ten students from the Istituto Marangoni Paris, as I am their godmother mentor, to work with the artisans to make the embroideries here. The students need to learn the art of couture in different ways and by being actively involved with the dress,” de Libran said. She has been working with the Paris offshoot of the Milano fashion school where she had attended. The students worked on a slip dress, restored the beadwork, and added lace and ribbons for reinforcements.
It is essential to link the past with the future, the artisanal skills to the students who are learning. It is a transmission of knowledge and skills from one person to the next, and one generation to another, just the way I had inherited my grandmother’s dresses. And I am making these old dresses new again for another person.
– de Libran.
A big concept like sustainability is more visible in a small niche company like de Libran’s, where there is a personal and an active role from the designer/owner to make the business works in a certain way.