Why did I choose such an original title for this interview?
Because it came out during the meeting with Ludovic Dedieu Wallerand and Isabelle Bordji, respectively CEO and Creative Director of Maison Ernest. Maison Ernest is designed for a strong woman who is proud of her independence.
1904 is the year that Paris saw the opening of a new luxury Maison, known as Ernest Chausseur, just steps away from the famous Moulin Rouge.
Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, who were initially its neighbors, became friendly with the Maison, sharing a desire for absolute freedom, which was quite rare at that time.
More than 100 years later, in 2012, destiny placed upon the pathway of Ernest a princess from faraway lands, Isabelle Bordji indeed.
A new life began for Ernest with the passion of its new CD.
She infused it with a new youthful spirit, restoring pride of place to the beautiful Ernest name within the heritage of Parisian fashion history.
The union of these two histories would take Ernest into a new dimension.
To reconnect with its French heritage, Ernest was renamed Maison Ernest in 2015.
Infused with the spirit of freedom, following no rules but its own, as a citizen of the world, Maison Ernest has forged its path at the heart of the City of Light and opened a new establishment in the very center of Saint-Germain des Prés.
Starting in 2017, Maison Ernest also opened a new way forward by inventing “heel jewels” to enhance feet as a showcase for beauty and by starting to make handbags once again.
VT – What’s fashion today?
IB – Fashion is emotion. It is a way to express feelings, and define your
own vision of what matters to you.
LDW – Fashion is probably one of the few areas of total freedom, but it’s also a reflection of society, with its excesses and paradoxes, and an art form by which everyone can be moved.
VT – Your working past is closely linked to the world of finance.
How was the transition to fashion?
LDW – The choice to leave finance was an easy one, motivated by a personal desire to find an environment more in line with my personal values, and a notion of pleasure that I’d lost.
A grandfather in the clothing industry, a major name in women’s footwear as a customer in my former life, and the discovery of the Maison Ernest history and heritage were all signs that led me to Maison Ernest, and thus to fashion….
The pleasure I find every day has only confirmed this path.
VT – Isabelle, you are a subtle balance of a royal Indonesian upbringing and all the richness
of an Algerian cultural background.
How much does your DNA influence your being a designer and your creations?
IB – The purpose of the Javanese Royalty was to really serve the people.
and always try to work for their own good.
In the Algerian, and particularly the Kabyle culture, fashion is assimilated.
to the Art of beauty, to give happiness in the everyday life.
So I guess that both heritages are strongly and deeply anchored in me
Creating allows me to bind with the world, share feelings and emotions,
and try to give a bit of joy and positive energy.
VT – I felt you have a great work match during our first meeting.
How do you combine the corporate and artistic vision?
IB – I don’t really think that way. As my work is turned towards the world,
I believe that it fits the corporate vision dedicated to Maison Ernest customers,
LDW – In all honesty, it’s not necessarily easy every day!
However, although I’m there to drive strategy and develop Maison Ernest from a corporate point of view, my day-to-day role is also to optimise Isabelle’s incredible talent in her art.
The Corporate and Artistic dimensions come together naturally when listening is paramount.
VT – What was and what is Maison Ernest?
IB – Maison Ernest was a fantasy, and still is I believe.
I could say also that Maison Ernest is like a secret about to be discovered.
a dream that is becoming true.
LDW – Is the Maison Ernest of today so different from that of 1904?
Apart from the way it is expressed and translated into its creations, the DNA of Maison Ernest has endured since its creation: Unapologetic, Mysterious, Sensual…
VT – 1904 is the year that Paris saw the opening of a new luxury Maison, known as Ernest
Chausseur, just steps away from the famous Moulin Rouge. And the history of Maison
Ernest is closely linked to the cabaret symbol of Parisian nights and its famous dancers.
How do you translate this lively, sensual and, let me say, mysterious past into a
IB – As you said, Maison Ernest is closely linked to the cabarets.
And I think that even in 2023, by wearing a pair of Maison Ernest,
everybody wants to feel, sometimes, like a famous cabaret dancer…
LDW – Why did the Moulin Rouge cabaret quickly become famous?
Because in this century, popular balls were governed by an exacerbated puritanism.
Cabarets thus became the only spaces of freedom, allowing female artists to break free from the shackles of a society that was still very conservative.
The cabaret dancer was a free woman…
The Maison Ernest woman is a modern heiress to the past.
Her slogan: You think you know me ? Think again…
VT- Tell something about the FW23-24 Collection and items key pieces.
IB – The FW23-24 tells the story of Maison Ernest since its beginning.
The BANDIT boots which were inspired by the cabaret shoes, the
heels jewelry that could remind us of the golden ages of Hollywood actresses,
and the MALICE bag inspired by our cuff signature styles, which is ludic,
practical and trendy.
VT – Since the beginning, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali became friendly with the
Maison, sharing a desire for absolute freedom, which was quite rare at that time.
According to you, who embodies the spirit of the brand today?
IB – The desire for absolute freedom: a key sentence for me, because it tells that
every person, who is into this quest, embodies perfectly the brand.
LDW – We often talk about “The Woman” at Maison Ernest.
Basically, it’s just a semantic turn of phrase because it doesn’t matter what gender you are, what your ethnic, religious, or social background is.
If you are in total harmony with the person you wish to be, and regardless of conventions, then you symbolize total freedom and therefore the Maison Ernest spirit…
VT – What is your main market?
LDW – Our biggest market is already the USA, which accounts for 50% of our sales.
France is also a natural market, with our two Paris boutiques.
We are in the process of experiencing very interesting growth in all parts of the world, thanks to our vision of luxury.
Too many luxury players have focused solely on indecent prices and have forgotten the fundamentals.
I believe in a return to luxury at a fair price value.
This vision consists of very high-quality products at a reasonable and coherent price.
The various players in the market are always surprised to see prices 20% to 25% lower than our competitors, with such high-quality standards.
Whether it’s in the choice of materials, the research into our designs, the conception of our heels or the particularly rare comfort of our shoes, we make no concessions…
That’s why a Maison Ernest creation is so jubilant and addictive!
VT – How do you see the future of the Maison Ernest?
IB – Solar:)
LDW – The sleeping beauty is waking up thus the future of the Maison Ernest will be a source of jubilation and addictive! ;-)
Thanks a lot!