The Fashion Folk S01 ep8 : Christian Pays, Mahlia Kent Fashion, [Paris]
Interview with Christian Pays
Mahlia was a fabulous person, a genius of creation and in fact she showed me when we visited the company the museum with 50,000 fabrics representing the creative work of the last 50 years. This museum is the only one in the world. I mean Tom Ford came here to Paris and visited our museum to look at the old fabrics in order to create new ones. You know it is fabulous. Mr Lagerfeld comes very often, Jean Paul Gaultier lives next door.
Three years ago I met a fantastic lady, Mahlia Kent. Mahlia was in fact the
girlfriend of Coco Chanel for years. For years Coco Chanel was doing the
designing and Mahlia was designing the fabrics. When Coco Chanel died she
decided to start up her own company, which is the company of today.
Two months after I took over, she died. So I wrote to all the schools all over
the world saying, 'send me a few students or creative people', in order to save
my company. That is why you are seeing 15 different nationalities now.
Mahlia was a fabulous person, a genius of creation and in fact she showed me
when we visited the company the museum with 50,000 fabrics representing the
creative work of the last 50 years. This museum is the only one in the world. I
mean Tom Ford came last week here in Paris and visited our museum to look
at the old fabrics in order to create new ones. You know it is fabulous. Mr.
Lagerfeld comes very often; Jean Paul Gaultier lives next door.
We produce 500 different fabrics, every six months and most of the big ones.
When they visit the museum they don’t use fabrics that were in existence 25
years ago lets say, they just take the spirit of that fabric.
KM – Yes
And we change it on the loom as you have seen here in our workshop. The
problem is not producing - the problem is creating.
KM – How do you create fabric?
The creative team creates most of the time and then you have the input of
John Galliano coming in here, or the assistant of John Galliano saying, “Why
don't you create for me the fabric which will have yarn appearing and
disappearing at random”, lets say… I talk about a specific example and then
we do the job only on the computer with a computer program or the manual
loom, selecting the yarns you have seen over there and just creating a fabric
according to the wish of the designer or the courtier.
KM – Coming from Christian Dior now you have the pallet of all the designers,
what are they like to deal with in reality?
The techniques they are using are completely different and some of them are
speaking, some of them are designing, some of them are coming with yarns
that they put all together, there is no standard, the process is extremely
If the girl appears to have an interesting file I say, “Yes, you can come”. The
test is getting along with everybody for some time. And then some people are
much more sophisticated in colours some others in the selection of yarns etc.
KM – Your team is from all over the world. Do you find that certain nationalities
have a certain taste for things than other nationalities?
Nationalities are very specific. We have a German guy here and he has some
kind of square approach let us say. You know that the American girl is not
made the same as the Japanese girl of course so they do not react the same
way in front of the same problem.
In Paris there is most probably the biggest fabric show of the world "Premier
Vision". You have almost 1000 exhibitors, and you know in four days we
received more than 500 designers.
KM – Really - 500 designers?
All the big names, they are all trying to get in to get an appointment
KM – To see you?
Of course! The big, big names we manage to select them small timing in a
quite place or we come and see them afterwards. That is why we are making
that kind of panel here. You know we are investing 2000 hours of work in order
to present the best name of the world in courtier.
Most of the young people that are coming here want to be designers. But not
designers of fabrics but they want to be designers of clothes. The first thing I
am trying to convince them is that in order to be a good designer of clothes
you have to know the concrete real job of the fabric. Know how the fabric is
going to react, how the fabric is going to work, to match, to live with dry-
cleaning, etc. Plenty of designers make big mistakes because they do not
have any idea of the technical side of the fabric.
KM – Do you work with other things like leathers and stuff like that?
KM – Oh you do that as well?
Feathers, leather and we do a lot of fabrics for Loewe in Spain with leather.
KM – So today your job is in fact you can make one material almost into
There is not limit. I don't give any limits to the creative team. They are today,
as you have seen, they are weaving feathers.
I am sure that this company will... It is a strategic point for the passing of big
KM – Really?
Because, look, now the Versace dresses are 80% of the fabric comes from us.
For the period minimalist period, the fabric had no importance because it was
grey and grey, and the dark grey O.K. – and black! Now today we have
colours, we have shade, we have third dimension into the fabrics etc. you
know it is very important, in order to be creative the people have to have the
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Christian Pays, Mahlia Kent, Paris