A stylist, designer and seamstress who has something of a Joan of Arc. A combination of feminine softness with the courage and iron will of people who dared to dream dreams and then take the risks big enough to serve her ideal. That of a human and respectful Haute-Couture, which puts excellence at the service of its customers, reconciling tradition and modernity. In her growing business in Bordeaux, Elise Martimort creates tailor-made wedding dresses to give meaning to each woman’s unique story, and to sublimate them in this special garment. And her favorite causes today are to transmit, develop and give access to this real luxury, so that the wedding dress continues to reveal, behind its purity and elegance, all the human wealth that illuminates the work and will make of this day, the most beautiful moment of a life.
From history of art to Haute-Couture
I am a pure Parisian! Elise was born in the 13th district of Paris and grew up in an affluent family. His grandfather was a successful wine merchant from the famous Maison Jarrousse. “My two grandmothers sewed a lot and passed on this passion to me very young.” One was trained in the girls’ school of Algiers, and the other one in the Dior house of Paris. Oldest of three children, the little girl will grow with wonder among clothes, and will learn to sew very quickly. “Hand sewing first with craft needles, and then from the age of 10, with my first sewing machine. I used to dress my dolls, making them clothes that could not be found anywhere in the shops.” In his intellectual family, however, it is not desirable to pursue a career in manual crafts. Therefore, Elise will continue her studies in the most exclusive districts of Paris by deepening her other passions: history and literature. I pursued my studies up to the final year specializing in Literature, then in history of the arts, with Hypokhâgne and Sciences Po. But a homework will change the course of events. “The theme was “the causes and consequences of the rise of totalitarianism in Europe” and I developed a very personal approach connecting art and politics.” The assignment will be noted Off-topic content, regarding the originality of thought. Elise lived at that time in the Latin Quarter of Paris. With her artist friends, she will share her disappointment and will decide to give up everything.
She will spend a year doing odd jobs: waitress, theater opener, hostess because she was determined to enter a fashion school. Finally, her parents will help her with funding and she will be graduated from the prestigious ESMOD School in 2006. “In the last year, I was pregnant and I was asked to make the wedding dress. Since she was just getting married herself and she had trouble finding a personalized and qualitative dress in this market, she will put all her talent to create a creative and cutting-edge style sublime dress. “It had an asymmetrical bustier and realized with garment cuts of 3 cm, on different levels. The lacing was in the back, running in front and with a train behind and asymmetrical tulle everywhere else.” She will also be noticed a few months later in the contest “Frimousses” of Unicef, obtaining the Jean-Paul Gautier award for her creation. “I could finally integrate this notoriously closed world of luxury, thanks to this event, but I stopped everything to raise my little girl.” Back two years later, she will become a stylist for ready-to-wear brands, then a self-employed designer and a “little hand” for the greatest fashion houses of the Place Vendôme, such as Valentino. These years of hard work will help her acquire the determination to create a more human couture, using these beautiful materials that inspire her, but in a customer-centred approach.
Setting up in Bordeaux
“When you are a small hand, you end up working five days in a row without sleeping. In 2009, at the beginning of the economic crisis, I took the opportunity to leave.” A weekend with a friend in Bordeaux will then feed his desire for a new life. A few months later, she will hit the road, touring France, to look for this ideal city where to settle visiting Menton, Avignon or Toulouse. But Bordeaux was obviously the right place. “A very warm and welcoming city, with a human face, and these very low buildings that let natural light pass through. And I could find all my Parisians bearings in this new set-up so close to nature.” She will settle quickly, and will begin teaching modeling, sewing and molding in a fashion school and also costume history at Bordeaux 2 University. A great opportunity to recap her career and her first passion for history of art. “I did this job for two years. This allowed me to understand the city and know the actors of fashion. But I quickly needed to find my machines and devote myself to the creation.”
Her desire will be materialized during special events such as the Salon du Chocolat. Since 2013, Elise Martimort has been associated, for four years, with famous names of chocolatiers to create the parade dress. The first year is was the young Chef Geoffrey Ferreyra. They will create together a majestic dress that will require more than 200 hours of work and 40 kilos of chocolate. “I had the idea of an African princess, and I wanted to mix the image of migratory birds with the chocolate culture. There were two bustier hulls, with lacing on the side so that the mannequin could slip in, and tens of meters of chocolate lace hand-assembled piece by piece on an asymmetrical petticoat. We also made large wings in the back, giant earrings, and all that with cocoa!” A dress that will allow her to meet the greatest fashion designers of the region and demonstrate her talent. And things really started to happen when a friend of here asked for fashion designers’ addresses to make her wedding dress. “Since we are still looking for this technical know-how from Parisian designers, there is therefore a potential market in Bordeaux itself. And what if I create this offer myself?” She will launch her brand and her website and start her activity from her apartment that had been turned into a showroom and a clothing workshop. Meanwhile, at the age of 32, Elise will start looking for a place to create her fashion house and will settle permanently rue Huguerie in the hyper center of Bordeaux. A showroom which is wholly dedicated to the future bride, with all the decoration, accessories and furniture coming from local craftsmen. During the first three years, she will provide a great work for unique pieces and a glamorous rock style that has been much talked about in France and abroad. “The fabrics are 100% of French origin, with precious and natural materials such as silks, cotton linings, crepe satin, tulle or Chantilly lace.” Here she is finally at work to found her own conception of Haute Couture, with a dress that has a spirit, with craftspeople who create it from beginning to end, to accompany the most beautiful stories of love.
“At first, I wanted to make all kinds of dresses in order to adjust to my customers’ needs.” But very quickly, her own signature in wedding dresses proved tremendous success, with the filial transmission and a style that goes against the current. Elise Martimort also dares bold cuts like bare shoulders to show a tattoo, a leather biker jacket, pockets in the dress, pants and not a dress, and a search for unique dresses that find their inspiration in the tradition of ancestors. Thanks to her closeness to her customers and her unique skills in Haute-Couture, she will make the difference. In her living room, over a cup of tea, Elise receives each future bride to listen to their love story and family life. Then starts the co-creation from a sketch, and it will come together and be refined as more meetings take place, until we get the perfect dress for the future bride’s morphology and personality. “Every single detail is important. Do we put on a heavy crepe or a very light Georgette? Do we choose a thick lace among the 250 existing references? Do we put a big guipure or a very fine Chantilly lace? Do we want floral design? Or a graphic one? What goes well with her skin? Do we add a piece of her grand-mother’s fabric and sew it inside the dress so to be close to her heart?” Today, the House also provides a personalized Mix & Match offer from existing models in the store, and Elise has even launched a personal collection in 2017, with 17 models of Bohemian Chic dresses, that are resold on the Internet and via a selective network. With Alice, her faithful seamstress, she has released more than 130 dresses in one year which is a record! At the same time, she also leads new development projects: the integration of the embroidery of art, a unique and ancestral know-how, in her workshop for the next season; the opportunity to set up a corner devoted to her brand in the United States and Dubai; and the imminent opening of a showroom in Paris, in association with other creators like Chamberlan, “to offer a space for gentleness and excellence to the modern woman, who wants to be romantic and elegant.”
Elise Martimort is indeed a high-end fashion designer. She has a bold and generous character, with admirable simplicity and a gaze that captures the beauty hidden behind all things. Hard worker, she uses her talent and sensitivity to make each dress unique, symbolizing love for the singular woman who will wear it on her special day. Her courage and determination throughout her career deserves our respect because she gained there her freedom to create a more humane and respectful Haute-Couture, with the concern of transmission and heritage. For the history to continue and find meaning in her art!
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on April 11, 2018, in Bordeaux
Link to the website of Elise Martimort