Jan 15, 2020 | By Claire Lancaster
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Apr 26, 2019
When I meet occasionwear and couture designer Alexis Mabille in London, it’s with prom season fast approaching, and with the natural, renewed interest in formalwear that comes with it.
However, interest in this style is transcending this annual event. At WGSN, we’re watching an appetite for a return to smarter dressing take hold. A rise in dressing for Insta feeds, in rich, bright bursts of colour and a new wave of hi-low styling (trialled by even the most premium of brands) are all giving formalwear a new lease of life.
Mabille may be rooted in couture (he trained at Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne), but he understands that broader appeal means diversifying his offering. A haute couture line sits harmoniously alongside ready-to-wear, and a newly-launched accessible evening line ensures he covers a wide range of consumers.
We caught up with him with some of WGSN’s emerging trends in mind – fresh from our Fashion Feed – to talk a new era of femininity and formalwear.
It really is all in the details. We’ve been tracking the rise of this long lens-ready trend since the A/W 19 catwalks. Small details bring a sense of luxury and elevation to pieces (and can raise price points), as well as delighting any Insta-led consumer.
“It’s all about the little twists,” says Mabille. “I’m passionate about retaining original vibes and inspiration in newer collections. From tailoring, to shirt dresses – details are definitely borrowed from the boys”. At first glance, Mabille’s dresses are ultra-feminine, with decorative, waisted bows. On a second look, the bows mimic shirt sleeves, with cuffs and buttons – a real riff on menswear.
We’re backing all things inclusive within fashion, and the brands of tomorrow need to get on board. Not just from a moral imperative, but a financial one, too, as consumers will reject the brands that don’t align with their values in 2019.
For Mabille, inclusivity takes a two-fold strategy: pricing, and sizing.
“Who we’re dressing is incredibly broad. I want to offer couture pieces at ready-to-wear (albeit premium) prices,” he says. “A young girl in the UK was very persistent, messaging on Instagram about a particular dress that was just slightly beyond her price point. In the end, I sent the dress to her with a small discount. She was delighted – and i’m eager to build that loyalty. She’ll come back and buy more – I hope I have a customer for life”.
A younger consumer is definitely in mind for Mabille. “We’re watching how closely at younger people’s engagement with the brand on social, and looking to engage that consumer,” he says. “When they have more spending power, the brand loyalty will be there, and they’ll look to purchase”.
He’s also considerate and inclusive in the design process. “I’m happy to dress everyone” says Mabille, who’s sizing goes up to FR 46 (UK 18). And dress with a removable and adjustable corset shows the consideration of the wearer. “Pictures are one thing, but these dresses are designed to be worn. I want the wearer to be able to breath, and eat!”
This is a designer that thinks about customer experience of his clothing – even after purchase.
A post-#MeToo era of fashion sees a celebration of femininity, and the strength of femininity in its own right, and it has given rise to a return to hyper-femininity, something we’re tracking closely at WGSN.
“My collection shows that you can be strong, while still being feminine. After almost fifteen years of my brand, the main point is always dressing women, and having fun with it,” says Mabille. “It’s all about elegance, and showcasing and respecting women’s bodies”.
Mabille feels reactive to the needs and demands of a modern consumer – reaffirming the relevance and importance of occasionwear for 2019, and beyond.
Stay up to date with Alexis Mabille here.
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