Although I chose to feature this interview as one of my exclusive and bespoke Interview Business Madame, I actually did not do it but was so happily surprised by the way it was handled and of course very much enthusiastic about both the project and fashion designer Martine Sitbon (pictured high above) herself that I decided that it was more than okay to integrate it along with my series. So I give you Martine Sitbon whose work I really like. Hereby she explains how and why she became a designer, her vision of the travel and hospitality sectors and what she calls a ‘Urban Line’ as Pullman Hotelier (a worldwide catalog of luxury hotels part of Accor Group) entrusted her with designing the uniform collection for their staff. The result is amazingly true to both signatures, Sitbon’s and Pullman’s. Want to know more ? It is all below !
Business Madame : Why did you choose fashion?
Martine Sitbon : Actually, I was initially more interested in music. My sister, who knew my passion for drawing, encouraged me to enrol at the Studio Berçot and as soon as I got there it was love at first sight. I instantly loved this world and understood that it was the one for me – it was like a revelation. However, I was young and still far from imagining that I would one day become a designer!
BM : How would you define yourself?
MS : If I had to define myself in five words, they would be: “vision”, “imagination”, “precision”, “passion” and “will”.
BM : How would you define your work?
MS : In addition to these five values, I try to bring to fashion a touch of chic and luxury that respects the spirit of the person wearing my clothes. I want to break down this system of over-design and prowess in order to maintain a “cooler” aura. My clothes are always complicated during the design stage and then I combine them with a very simple style so that people can appropriate them in a way that suits them.
BM : How would you define your style?
MS : My style is androgynous, rock, poetic, often contradictory. I like androgynous silhouettes, and combine this with the female universe and an almost childlike side, which I break down with a more rock, masculine angle. I have always been inspired by the fun and dreamlike aspect of the 1970s. I like to give a very masculine side to the female universe, as represented by my collection of trench coats and my work on military styles.
BM : What characterises your designs? Is there a distinctive element of your collections?
MS : There are many. I like contrasting materials. Soft fabrics like crêpe de chine and functional, harder fabrics like heavy cottons or military materials. I also like ornamentation, which can be embroidery or a graphic aspect. I often tell stories through these contrasting materials and my ornamental work.
BM : Who are your idols/mentors? Why?
MS : When I first started out, my biggest inspiration came from music: David Bowie, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick. These were the people I worshiped as a teenager and made me want to go to London, in order to live better and understand this world.
BM : What is your favourite item/piece of clothing to work on? Why?
MS : Right now, I like working on dresses as they give a complete silhouette. In the 1990s, I liked working on jackets.
BM : What are your favourite colours and materials? Why?
MS : I often wear black, but I enjoy working with colour in my collections: red, bright yellow… I create ranges for each collection. In general, I use dark colours – off-blacks, aubergine, bottle green – but I also let my imagination run with primary colours and white.
BM : Any future projects?
MS : I am writing a book that looks back at my work, which will be published in September 2016. I am also working on a project that will be unveiled in October the same year, but can’t say anything about it for the time being!
BM : Why did you choose to work for Pullman?
MS : The artistic director of AccorHotels Group contacted me. He gave me a Pullman brochure which I found visually very interesting and elegant. It had a great deal of taste and I liked that. It presented images and the brand’s philosophy. I found the concept very interesting and wanted to be part of the project.
BM : What inspired you in the brand universe?
MS : I could feel their desire for change, to alter the rather cold side that business hotels can have and find a way out of this impersonal atmosphere. I like the emphasis Pullman puts on conviviality, this desire to stand out by giving more of a sense of design, dream, and art.
BM : Which Pullman codes have you chosen to work/play with? Why?
MS : I’ve worked in particular on the round collar of the dresses, which resonate with this aspect of conviviality.
BM : What difference(s) do you see between high-end and luxury in the clothing industry?
MS : For me, marketing is the main difference between luxury and high-end. High-end clothing is made using high quality know-how, and targets connoisseurs.
BM : Why this choice of material(s) and colour(s)?
MS : For Pullman, I have drawn on the universe of Parisian chic with a slight couture aspect and the choice of materials. There are many constraints to doing something like this, particularly in the choice of fabrics, which must not crease, get dirty etc. I used a woven material and married very elegant dark colours with midnight blue and a specific graphic on the collar. I also came up with cuts that are suitable for different body types.
BM : In your opinion, what do travellers expect when it comes to hotel staff’s clothing in the high-end industry?
MS : I think that travellers expect two things: for Pullman staff to be elegant, with contemporary silhouettes and something that makes them stand out. They want to hotel staff to be visually recognisable.
BM : What inspired you in the Pullman’s brand universe?
MS : I could feel their desire for change, to alter the rather cold side that business hotels can have and find a way out of this impersonal atmosphere. I like the emphasis Pullman puts on conviviality, this desire to stand out by giving more of a sense of design, dream, and art. I found the concept very interesting and wanted to be part of the project.
BM : Which Pullman codes have you chosen to work/play with? Why?
MS : I’ve worked in particular on the round collar of the dresses, which resonate with this aspect of conviviality. For Pullman, I have drawn on the universe of Parisian chic with a slight couture aspect and the choice of materials.
BM : How would you define the “urban line” collection?
MS : The collection reflects a contemporary, comfortable, couture spirit, with a light and casual touch. I have always been very inspired by films, in particular “Diary of a Chambermaid” and a David Lynch film. I took on this project as if I was working on film costumes. I wanted to add something a bit fun.
BM : What is your vision of travel?
MS : The ideal for me is traveling to a country with a rich culture in order to make discoveries. One country that I love, for example, is Japan and the extremes of this secular country of eye-watering modernity. I am a very visual person and think that a trip has been a success if I leave with strong images. I need to feed my soul somehow! My vision of travel is that of an enriching experience.
BM : What do you think will be the hotel of the future?
MS : For me, the hotels of the future will be more and more personalised, with similar decor to a home, where you can feel at ease. In India, for example, many Maharajas’ homes have been transformed into hotels, with lots of small sitting rooms and gardens that make you feel at home. It’s nice to have a cosy room. Whether the hotel is large or small, it must have a soul.
BM : Are your designs linked to the cultures or places you visit?
MS : My designs can be linked to my travels but this is not necessarily instantaneous. As time goes by, I store up images that I sometimes use years later.