INTERVIEW BY LUKE SINGLETON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ETIENNE GILFILLAN
Les Glorieuses is a conceptual, all-encompassing design collection created by renowned stylist Sonia Bronstein. The house’s nuanced style follows a non-seasonal approach; a business concept which has made global headline news this year and has sent seismic waves throughout the fashion and retail industries. The idea that the consumer can find a garment of their choice, regardless of weather or season, puts control back into the hands of customers, and frees up designers to produce individual pieces that really inspire them. Originally created in Paris as a capsule collection, Les Glorieuses, signifying all that is innately glorious about personal style, has expanded throughout Europe and across the world. Incorporating regional fabrics into her designs, some of Sonia’s clothes are now made in England, whilst the jewellery, the bedrock of the design collections, continues to be made in France.
Wylde: What is Les Glorieuses?
Sonia Bronstein: Les Glorieuses is a luxury collection of handmade classics inspired by the 1940s era of female elegance, freedom and individuality.
Why did you decide to start Les Glorieuses?
To fill a gap in my wardrobe that no one else had managed to do, so far.
What is its objective?
The objective is to meet the demands of modern women who still want a shopping experience, but in their own time and on their own terms. Therefore the personalised shopping experience, and the one-to-one appointment service, responds directly to this demand from my global client base.
Do you design alone or as part of a collective?
I design on my own - on the go, and wherever I find inspiration.
On your website you appear to catalogue your designs into definitive key pieces or key designs. Do you have a specific concept of sophistication, or an understanding that there are certain things a woman could not live without?
The idea behind the Les Glorieuses collection is to create beautiful classics and to build a label without any seasonal calendar restrictions. These key pieces are absolutely viewed as ‘essentials’ or wardrobe stables. The sophistication of it, ultimately, is its simplicity, due to refined and subtle details, luxurious materials and an immaculate cut and design.
What are your bestsellers?
The chain bi-colour ‘Ruthenium’ necklace with a single grey pearl, as part of the Les Precieuses collection, is the most popular piece of jewellery. The ‘Mercredi’ Victorian blouse featured in the Les Glorieuses collection, is the best selling garment.
How does the design process differ between designing clothes and designing jewellery? Which came first?
I initially studied tailoring and fashion design at ESMOD in Paris, however I was always designing jewellery in my spare time, simultaneously learning about gems, stones and metal components. The process is roughly the same: a desire for, and a visualisation of, texture, colour and volume.
Which jewellery houses inspire you?
Chanel for its Art Deco, modern, slightly graphic edge, and Dior for its poetic and ludic vision.
You have worked alongside some impressive titan brands of the fashion industry. Any favourites, and why?
Definitely Yohji Yamamoto and Sonia Rykiel. I adore Yamamoto for his genius sobriety, reflected in his black, timeless pieces and minimalism. Rykiel I admire for her femininity, her sense of sensuality and freedom.
What did you learn about style there?
That style is an attitude beyond fashion. You should always follow your own path.
Do you still work as a stylist now that you are building your brand and focusing more on design?
No, not really. But I am always happy to offer styling advice to my clients, when asked.
Which period of design inspires you most, and why?
The 1930s and 1940s – the ‘glorious’ era. One of the most elegant periods, particularly for women. Within women’s sartorial style there was an added masculine touch and there was a sense of freedom in their wardrobes.
What does ‘classic French style’ mean to you?
A chic simplicity, with a certain natural elegance.
What comes to mind when you envision the British woman?
Well, it’s contrasted! She is an exuberant woman. She can be rebellious and avant-garde, or sometimes very conservative.
How does living in London influence you?
London has revealed my cultural differences (being a French national) and has allowed me to express them fully.
You are a French brand - many of your pieces are made in Paris. Which other territories have you expanded into/want to expand into, and how are those consumer markets responding to your collections?
So far, England and France have been my main markets alongside clients in the USA, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany. They seem to be happy to have pieces made exclusively for them, and they truly value this ‘non seasonal’ concept.
Do you have any personal reflections on Britain's Brexit vote?
Britain is a big part of Europe geographically. As a multicultural place, information could flow easier and faster as a part of a global community, where business relationships and commercial opportunities could be facilitated easier. Being part of the wider EU community would allow the true understanding of different styles and cultures, providing a more open-minded and inclusive perspective.