Interview

Marguerite & Philippe interview.

 

Do you believe in Style ?

Marguerite

I believe in style. But I believe in style in a bigger context. Because style is something that permeates every aspect of our life. And I want to highlight originality and individuality and expressivity.

Philippe

 Victor Hugo said « avoir du style c’est savoir sans cesse ramener le fond à la surface » which I would translate as « to have style is to know in every situation how to highlight what matter ». Of course I believe in Style…

Tell me a little bit about the story behind your brand. How did it come to be? How did you start merging art with fashion ?


Marguerite

 

I have been painting and drawing since I am a kid. I grew up doing that.

 

When I was 21, I was studying cartoon motion at La Cambre art school in Brussels because I found out that movement in art was very attractive. But I was getting bored with the school. At that time, my brother Philippe was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He spent months there and he was always wearing a simple t-shirt. It was his daily outfit and he was a bit frustrated because he couldn’t find one right for him. Just stereotyped from conventional brands. So he asked me a drawing and bought a white tee. Then he had my drawing silk screened on his tee. When I saw a picture of him wearing the shirt on the beach it started me with the idea of painting on tee shirt. It was the possibility to escape from the virtual world and jump into the real one. My drawings will not be seen behind a screen but on people. This was the start of my work on garments.

Philippe

I was very bad at drawing and Marguerite was a genius. I was passionate with her works. Regarding art I feel as the Egyptians. In their world they did not make any differences between « things » and « words ». For them the drawing of the « thing » was « the thing ». I am a bit like that. When I printed my first tee-shirt with a beautiful girl Marguerite draw for me it was as if she introduced me with a beautiful girl. I was proud to carry it and I felt I was different. I felt I was wearing something special and personal not a fake commercial common graphism.

If you could capture the essence of G.Kero in one sentence, how would you describe it?

Marguerite

 G.Kero is an artistic reaction to the environment.

Philippe

I could not say it better.

Who do you design for? Who is the G.Kero woman?

Marguerite


I design for everybody, cats and dogs. The G.Kero woman can be found in one of them, she looks free from what’s going on in the fashion world.
 

Philippe

The G.Kero woman is many women but all are sharing this, they are independent women. Free from the fashion diktats.

The book “Adieu l’Afrique” by Mirella Ricciardi was your first source of inspiration, at a very early age. Are there any other books/artists that have influenced you along the way? How did you continue to pursue your interest in art?

 

Marguerite


Of course there are lots of books or paintings or whatever, even if not consciously. I was a kid. Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Rembrandt, Walt Disney’s characters, such as Mowglie, Basquiat, my mother’s photographs of us, and my older brothers’ and sisters’ drawings. I was crazy about them. I have never reached a stronger emotion regarding art since discovering their drawings when I was 6, hahaha! When you are bitten as a kid, I guess you open the art channel for life so it goes on and on and on with every different artist you meet on your way. My Cousin Jules de Balincourt influence me as well. I painted a collection in his atelier in New York.

 

You paint directly on fabric. How difficult was it to master this technique?

Marguerite

 

It was first easy when it was just black and white drawings, a line on a t-shirt with a pencil. I found more difficulties when it eventually became a painting with details and different layers, etc. Painting on fabrics needs lots of patience, but as I don’t like complicated things, I think I kept it simple enough. I simplify what I would do on paper. In time, I’ve developed a painting style which is done for clothes. But, you know, I mostly print my artwork, I paint or draw on paper and then it is printed all over the fabric. It is very interesting because I don’t know where it will actually end up. I try not to control everything to let magic happen.

 

The G.Kero clothes are made of cotton, cashmere or silk and are crafted in the best family workshops in Portugal. What’s the biggest challenge of a socially conscious fashion brand?

Marguerite

 

I love the idea that our customers can give their G.KERO shirts to their daughters years after because the quality is good.  You can explain your kids that our clothes are made in small workshops respectful of workers and environment not in countries where kids are working in very poor conditions to make cheap clothes sold by multinational making huge profits with indecent margins.

Philippe

The biggest challenge is to survive when your aim is not profit but beauty and quality… To make small and ethical productions. To take care of workers and environment.

 

The textile industry and its products have shaped the contemporary world more than anything else. The disposal of textile waste is one of the biggest preoccupations we have at the moment. How do you see the future of fashion? Do you think there is a significantly increased interest in the locally-made, in craftsmanship and mindful shopping or do you think it will take mass action to curb our addiction to mass-produced, cheap products? And what do you think is the first thing every individual should do in order to address this issue, any tip that may help someone else just starting out on their sustainable journey?

 

Marguerite


I think that the future of fashion will be paradoxal as the reflexion of our society. On one hand, you’ll see more and more fast fashion shops opening. They steal original ideas from young designers like me and use cheap labour in poor countries, and, on the other hand, you will see new locally made or small production little brands like us. I think that, unfortunately, the bad education and this massive monster which is consumerism will  make huge damages and maybe kill everything around. I think that people should only buy clothes that last and boycott brands that exploit cheap labours to make huge margins and profits. At least people who can afford to do otherwise.

Philippe

We are all actors of our destiny. I am sad when I hear people saying « This is how it goes. one can’t change the world ». Yes we can. As rich countries now that we have a certain power to buy we should as well use this power to stop buying. When buying something we should not say « just do it » but « think about it before ». This is a wonderful and gigantic power. If we start being ethics and act well individually then the world will change around us. We don’t need books people and religion to tells us what is good or bad. We are feeling it in ourselves as part of the Univers. More love is needed. This is the only thing I am really sure of. Speaking about fashion and consumption we have the power to change the word each time we buy something or choose not to buy it. In France we always hear about « augmenter le pouvoir d’achat » (rising the power to buy) but we should talk more about « le pouvoir de ne pas acheter », the « stop buying this » power .  This is a huge power and we should use it.

 

The clothes you design have a carefree, joyous, distinctive attitude, an attitude that’s transmitted through your campaigns as well. They remind me of the fashion of the late 80s-early 90s, when designers, models and people still had fun with fashion, when women wore the clothes, not the other way around, when individuality still mattered. Have women stopped having fun with fashion?

 

Marguerite


Of course not! I can see lots of women around me happy to meet G.Kero. Maybe they have a reaction to the boring propositions they are surrounded by. Sometimes there is a contre-pieds to the massive tendency. It’s enough for us to live on.
 

Philippe

If big brands start advertising 45 kilos models with no smile it becomes fashion. And it has actually. But smile comes back. Fashion comes and goes. But sure there is a thing with pretending being serious since fashion is not a serious thing. Beauty is supposed to be a serious thing. What I admire in Marguerite’s work is her ability to play with beauty. To highlight what matter in a light and even sometime funny way.

We live in a hectic world and more and more people are trying to go back to basics, to find a balance, to live mindfully. Your art and your clothes seem to carry this message of living simply and expressing yourself freely. What does beautiful living mean to you?

 

Marguerite


It’s a big question! To me, beautiful living is to create … or to be free to do what you want to do. To be able to think. When you look at human behaviour we are not far from sheep and seem to ignore it. It’s scary.
It can also be just to do things in a positive mood, whatever you do.
I think that your life is beautiful when what you do brings you lucky things.
We can see the whole life like a giant picture, and see if there is harmony and colours in it… I do this often. When you keep on exchanging with people, when you travel to see and hear and feel different cultures, you enlarge your world and make it flamboyant.

 

Philippe

For me beautiful living mean to live and work in a world according to your own principles. Each of us has a different perception of beauty, truth and justice. It should not be stated by anybody and imposed to anyone. Living beautifully is to live in adequation with ones own values and principles.

Speaking of a multicultural background, you grew up in Cap Ferret in France, went to school in Belgium and have lived in Paris. How has each place informed you creatively?

 

Marguerite


Very, very differently, but in a logical continuation. Cap Ferret was the most important one because it was simple: to draw in my room and to read were my only temptation. No cinéma, no Disneyland, no music, no football, no zoo, etc.

My mother had seven children and we grew up quite free. If you got bored because you didn’t find any activity, no one was finding it for you. Once I came to my mother to tell her I had nothing to do, and she answered: “you can work in the garden… “. From that day I preferred to invent stories in my room. She sent me to Rome when I was 18 after the bacalaureat and I was painting a lot. Afterwards I entered a school in Brussels for 2 years and it changed me a lot. I didn’t want to enter the art-gallery world anymore because it’s not fun. I needed my art to be more entertaining and more involved in the concrete life. It’s fun that my brother asked me to make some t-shirts at that moment. I was more than ready to create G.Kero… And he gave me the kick to do it.

What advice would you give someone with their own idea or dream?

Marguerite

 

Flow with your deeper energy. If you crash, it’s no big deal!
 

Philippe

Nothing is more important than following your dream because dreams make you as much as you make them.

What does style mean to you?

Marguerite

 

Style happens when the elegance in you looks like yours and it will never be boring to look at you. Fashion passes, style stays.

 

Philippe

Style is an expression of truth. I have seen many styled bums and very few styled politicians.

You feel your best dressed in:

 

Marguerite


Whatever… If I feel good when my body’s feels good. I like comfortable clothes. But I can’t go out if I have no style! Let’s do both.
I’m happy we don’t wear corsets anymore!
I usualy wear high-size pants and a long coat in winter, with a colourful silk scarf.
The best in summer would be something very light: short pants and a large blouse attached au dessus de la taille. Happy when the wind enters my shirt …
When I have the colours that match together…
Lots of possibilities, that’s why it’s very hard to answer briefly.

Philippe

Naked in the sun.

What is your one favourite thing to do in Cap Ferret/Paris and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world?

 

Marguerite


If I left Cap Ferret, I would miss the direct communication with all G.Kero fans that come to my atelier. The beautiful place I got. If I left Paris, I would miss all those crazy healthy food places.

 

Philippe

 

I would miss the spring coming back after winter, the autum at the end of summer. Seasons are beautiful in France.

 

One thing you can not start the day without:


I need some light! When the sky is blue, it helps!

 

Philippe

 

A good night before I wake up brand new.

 

So where would we find you when not working?

 

Marguerite


Ooh, travelling everywhere, all the time! As much as possible. In the nature, of course, and as often as possible. I like Bidart (South-West coast, France), Portugal, Italy, Sicily …

 

Philippe

 

Surfing in Costa Rica.

 

I am a film lover and I have to ask: do you have a favourite movie? What about the latest good film you’ve watched?

 

Marguerite


Les enfants du Paradis. Because the French poet Jacques Prévert wrote the dialogue and it’s brilliant. The actors are something that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s very tasty and deep. It’s art.

 

 

Philippe

 

One of my favorite movie is La chèvre, with Pierre Richard. A very funny movie about a guy who has bad luck.

The last movie I saw was a movie I had already seen. It is La Grande Vadrouille a hilarious french movie as we do not see anymore on screen ! But I have not a single favorite movie.

 

What makes you happy at the end of the day?

 

Marguerite


To share something with a friend or somebody I like. For example, that movie!

 

Philippe

 

An email from a happy customer just before I am leaving my office. Usually happy customers are silent. I like when happy people say it. A single message is enough to give me energy to go ahead.