A French accessory designer who understands the contemporary femme fatale.
Amélie Pichard always knew she wanted to work with women – and it is women that continue to inspire her to this day. The French designer first founded her accessories line in 2010 with a firm focus on footwear, but has since branched out into handbags and other accessories. Both of these pieces capture femininity perhaps better than any other wardrobe items, lending an ephemeral power and the opportunity for personal expression. “Wearing a crazy bag or pair of shoes is easier than a coat or a dress for everyday life,” the designer explains of their transformative potential. Of course, the bold colours and playful spirit of Pichard’s fuzzy mules and printed booties certainly do tell a great story – and it is this storytelling that’s so key to the brand’s DNA.
At the heart of that DNA is a flame-haired French woman with a strong sense of who she is and her vision for the brand. Above all, Pichard describes herself as a narrator. Each season, she says, her and the team create a female character as a source of inspiration. For FW18, that character was a working girl who has decided to leave the city for the sea. Not all Pichard’s muses are metaphorical, though. She also has a serious penchant for pin-ups – in particular, Pamela Anderson. “I love pin-ups because, when you dig, you understand that these girls have got the power,” Pichard elaborates. “Pamela Anderson is a good representation of that. Guys loved her shape; women were jealous of her. Then people put her in a box stamped: ‘pin-up, too sexy, without a brain’. But Pamela is very strong; she’s a businesswoman, a mother, an activist. She is woman.”
Pichard believes that the sort of sex appeal Pam represents is inherently timeless – and it’s this spirit that infuses her footwear in particular. “Modernity is ephemeral. Sex appeal is eternal,” the designer puts it simply, indicating that it is timelessness, which interests her most. A sense of sensuality, then, is a natural ingredient in her approach to design. It permeates the entire Amélie Pichard world – from her evocative e-boutique, to the Instagram feed that’s filled with sexually suggestive, visually captivating imagery. ‘Touch me’ blinks one text overlay above a ladylike, emerald green purse for instance. Meanwhile, the red lacquered fingernail in the foreground serves to underscore the message.
“Free the creativity... Sales are killing fashion and creativity; sales are killing the well-made products and our planet. Stop the slavery of consumption fever."
Amélie Pichard may be concerned with the eternal appeal of sexuality, but her accessories are also breaking boundaries for the future. Take the vegan collection Pichard launched with her muse, Pamela Anderson, in 2016. Although the designer has always worked with materials beyond leather, this collaboration resulted in her first fully vegan product. It was an experience that she describes as akin to touching the wings of angels. “I got the chance to work with David LaChapelle for the campaign and Pamela was my muse. She has always inspired me, so I designed a collection for her, which she wears in the campaign. I closed the loop in that moment.”
Pichard is referring to her inspiration loop coming full circle, but the move into vegan accessories also represents another closing of the loop – a certain consciousness around the life-cycle of her products. “In May 2018, I will propose new vegan products,” Pichard reveals to INPRINT. “I don’t want to be a 100% vegan line for the moment, because I don’t want to be a preacher. But I do want to give people the choice, so I plan to introduce 50% vegan products throughout my collections.” The designer is taking a future-looking approach to design, which also filters down to her sales strategy.
Rejecting sales culture is a message she has been particularly vocal about, posting “Pichard is free of sales,” to Instagram earlier this year. “Free the creativity...Sales are killing fashion and creativity; sales are killing the well-made products and our planet. Stop the slavery of consumption fever.” It was – and is – a bold stance to take in this era of sales-driven hyper consumption. However, Pichard explains that it also makes perfect sense for a brand like hers, which seeks to be timeless. “I prefer quality over quantity. I prefer taking the time of conception needed for a new product; rather than just making fashion,” she explains.
It is for this reason that Amélie Pichard still produces in small quantities and it is also why she believes in encouraging women to wear their shoes as much as possible. “We just launched a website named Les Petites Annonces (classifieds), where customers can sell their pre-loved bags or pairs of shoes,” the designer says. “It’s a new sort of up-cycling. We are advocating for the end of throwing things out when they’re worn. Instead, we encourage repairing.” On that note, Pichard postulates that if her shoes could speak, they would say: ‘wear me, repair me, love me forever.’ “It is very strange to me that people today have forgotten shoes are made for life, and designed to be reborn.”