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Julien Fournié Talks Bridal Haute Couture and Finding One’s Inner Legend

Arabian Moda x Julien Fournié
Photographer: Delphine Royer

AM: Please tell us how the Julien Fournié Haute Couture brides are different from the other brides
First of all, we only design and make Haute Couture outfits. Including wedding dresses, of course. This is a capital moment in life for many women and families. So, the first step for me is to meet with the bride and talk with her: What are her expectations? What kind of emotions would she like to convey? What kind of values would she like to express when she appears in this dress? How does she want to move when she wears that dress? Our motto in my house is “Find Your Legend”. The celebration of a wedding is the ideal occasion to express that a woman has found her own. I try to help her in that way. So, we talk a lot first. I think my role as a couturier is also to make the bride’s dream come true.

And then of course, I sketch several possible dresses as proposals for the wedding. I believe that my dresses are designs of a classical elegance but with intricate cuts and always with a real architecture for the garment. When we have decided on a direction for the design, I choose together with the bride the best fabrics, I suggest the very best craftsmen respect to the embellishments I have sketched, amongst the people worldwide who master the best techniques for feathers or embroidery. Details are capital in a bridal dress. They contribute to give the bride a real support for confidence. Some of them must be made for her only: only then will she sparkle. I want the bride to shine, not only the dress she is wearing. When the bridal dress is good, you see the bride. When the bridal dress is bad, you see the dress!

AM: For their dress on the very special occasion, the brides are very much looking for a fairytale look. How do you achieve this?
Never forget that every bride carries within herself the dreams she had when she was a little girl. So, on that very special day, she wants to let the world know about her dreams. It is already magical to get united and to become a couple. This is the ideal time to show who you really are inside your heart. Your look on that special day should reflect and express your personality; whether you are a dreamer or an active person, a romantic lady or a conqueror, a wise counselor or a boundless explorer, a disruptive artist or a confident intellectual. This is the time when a lady can really express herself in her unique full feminine dimension. This is the only secret, never artificially suggest any fairytale character. Build on the bride’s personality, tell her story in the dress, imagine and express what is magic about this particular lady.
AM: For this fashion editorial with our magazine and its bridal issue, you chose a very special location, Disneyland Paris, its castle and its horse-drawn carriage. Why so? Is it because Walt Disney's art has always been an inspiration for you?
When I was three years old, my mother started to teach me how to draw with Mickey Mouse. So, naturally, Walt Disney has always been the reference for me. Later, I started to sketch the Disney classic princesses. I am still very much inspired nowadays by the works of Mary Blair. She was an American artist, a fantastic illustrator, drawing concept art for many Disney classics. I particularly love what she has developed for Cinderella. I am also a real fan of Disneyland Paris. It has the most beautiful castle among all Disney resorts worldwide. And the most creative and luxurious expression of Disney lies in this location. It could be because of Paris, the home of Haute Couture. I think that Disneyland Paris provides a wonderful setting for what Walt Disney and Haute Couture have in common. “No dream too big, no wish too small.” The Walt Disney motto fits very well with Haute Couture, don’t you think? When I discovered that Disneyland Paris had a new horse-drawn carriage for private events, I thought that the illuminated castle, the fountains in front and the sparkling white and gold carriage could provide the best set for a dream wedding party and for this bridal fashion editorial. In my eyes, it is the most romantic place to celebrate love and it perfectly reflects the dream every bride wants to live on her wedding celebration! “You can decide and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality,” this again is a Walt Disney quote. 

I know, in my daily work that it applies to all my team: models of course and I was lucky enough to work again with two of my favorite models, Michaela Tomanovà and Jihane Salama, but also with Jack Merrick Thirlway from the Neville salon in London as hair stylist, Nicolas Degennes for make-up and the dressers from my workshop. But I want to stress that this shooting was made possible, above all, thanks to the wonderful team at Disneyland Paris, so professional, so efficient and caring for us all. The result is magic thanks to them all and knowing you can rely on them is capital for a dream to come true.

AM: Our cover wedding dress is exquisite. Tell us more about how you designed it and how it was made
As always, it started with a sketch. For the bride in the First Sunshine collection, I have imagined a classic very Parisian veilless bustier dress consisting of a sheath and a wide overskirt. Both are made of white triple silk organza. Balance in the construction of the dress is capital. The folds within the bottom part of the dress are thought out to move in a very organic manner, revealing the inner qualities of the silk fabric placed over a cloud of white tulle. All the embroidered panels (eight on each side) represent a symbol of union (the knot) and rays of the sun radiating from these knots embroidered in crystal tubes for a sparkling but discreet shine. The embroidery becomes more three-dimensional over the breast area, on the illusion tulle long gloves and on the headpiece.

The dress itself also has a reference to “Boutis” a French traditional way of quilting, typical from the Provence area. The bride has no veil to celebrate the freedom of women who don’t wish to hide their feelings of joy and love on this very particular day. I am very lucky to work on the development of the fabrics I use with exceptional weavers from the Lyon area, Sfate & Combier, a weavers’ house which has worked with the most prestigious brands in the world since Haute Couture has started to exist in the middle of the 19th century. The beautiful embroidery work is, of course, entirely handmade by an incredible team at Creations by Shanagar, in Mumbai. This company and workshop are, in my eyes, the ultimate reference in the world for luxury embroidered handwork. Their legitimacy in craftsmanship as well as the variety of techniques they can provide is a stimulating element in the way I am using the embroideries. Not only as an embellishment, but as a full part of the original design.

AM: You founded your Haute Couture house in 2009. How do you keep your creativity flowing? And what do you dream of achieving?
I just live what I have to live, I have very pleasant meetings with many artists, actresses, singers, and also with business people or software engineers who stimulate my imagination. Above all, I try to bring joy to the ladies who trust me enough to let me try and dress them. There is no bigger achievement in my eyes than seeing one of my customer’s confidence grow to the point that she feels strong enough about her own beauty, and about the flame inside her heart.