Eclectic and earthy, French label Sessun draws on designer Emma Francois' interest in arts and crafts and anthropology. From her home in Marseilles, Emma Francois tells us of Bohemian childhood memories, lisetning to folk music and being inspired by South America. Indigo Clarke
Hi Emma, how are you today?
Fine, I’m always fine!
Where are you at the moment?
I’m in Marseille, the city I live in.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Montpellier, a very lively university town in the south of France, before moving to Paris to study after high school.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the seventies; my family was quite hippy and “boheme”. I had a very happy childhood, we used to listen to my parents’ folk music and also traveled a lot.
Were your parents particularly creative?
My parents were both teachers, so the environment I grew up in was probably more intellectual than creative! I’m a bit of an extra-terrestrial as far as my family is concerned; the world of business is not really their culture. However, when I was little my mother would embroider and dye our old household linen to make lovely summer dresses. On they weekends our house would be turned into a creative workshop where she would weave, knit and sew so this must have had some influence on me!!
Are your siblings creative too?
We are four children with the same upbringing, but who all have very different lives. One of my brothers is a teacher. My younger sister lives in Seville where she trains thoroughbred horses and is a professional bullfighter, at horse. And my other brother is a musician.
What were you like as a child?
I was good at school, shy ,but I always had a lot of friends!
What were your favourite things to do?
I have always been a curious person, but when I was a child most of all I was a dreamer. What I loved to do most was lock myself away in my bedroom and read, I also loved playing dress ups. When I was little I hated being outside. I’ve changed a lot since then!
What did dream of being when you grew up?
An archeologist, a journalist, a singer, a hairdresser, a sound engineer, an actress… so many different things!
As a teenager what music or bands were you into?
Wow! I was always mad about music!! When I was 12 I listened to Duran Duran, Bronsky Beat and Wham! When I was 13 Police and U2. At 16, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. At 18 Velvet Underground, and The Orb. The clothes I wore often reflected the music I was into!
What did you think of fashion as a teenager – did you have a particular style? I really started getting into clothes when I was about 16 and I started going to clubs! That was a real turning point in my life. I would spend all week thinking about what I was going to wear on Saturday night. I would customize my clothes and dye them and cut them up. Even now music still plays a very important part in Sessun. It’s a constant source of inspiration.
I read that you studied Economic Anthropology before heading into the fashion world. That sounds so interesting - what did you learn that has helped you in creating your own label?
My interest in anthropology is reflected in the way I work on a day-to-day basis: I try to be respectful towards the people to I deal with, I have an ethical approach to the company and a great respect for local craftsmanship. This all helped me to create my own label.
When and why did you start Sessun?
It all began in 1995 when I was a student, I started the label to pay for my trips to South America. After my first trip, I started thinking about creating a collection that could mix local know-how with street culture. It was an instant hit.
How would you describe your aesthetic world?
I would describe it as fresh, soft, nonchalant and nostalgic, with a hint of couture. I pay very close attention to the cut of each garment to create an elegant and slightly vintage look. I see them as clothes that are always welcoming.
Do you have a type of girl or woman in mind when you design?
All my lovely friends and myself! I try to create our ideal wardrobe!
What are your dreams for 2013 - and beyond?
To continue developing Sessun as serenely as possible. And to continue being as happy as I am now. (Ahhh love!)
When are you happiest?
When I am with my friends, my loved ones and some good music. I love dancing!
Do you have a personal philosophy you live by? Life is short so enjoy it, enjoy it!
What was your collection for Spring 13 themed around? AND can you give us a hint as to what to expect from your upcoming Autumn/Winter 13 collection? Our Spring/ Summer collection is based upon the preppy style with a soft, feminine twist and a touch of spring. Fresh, happy, light, it is the ultimate story about spring. Imagine a sunny afternoon. The contrast between little dresses and preppy classics. Feminine details and shapes with graceful charm. Classic influences remain strong with the trench, jacket, blazer and pleated high-waist trousers! Mixing and mis-matching coordinates, creating new ones, mixing prints. We will carry through these main themes for our winter collection – contrasting masculine with the feminine, and soft feminine looks with subtle retro and boyish accents.