The norm of women altering their bodies to fit the style of the day is coming to an end: Mélanie Viallon heads Les Lunes' Paris design team, creating clothes to fit the woman.
An interview with Mélanie Viallon
Les Lunes, Chief Creative Officer
The first thing you notice about Mélanie is how incredibly gorgeous she is. She is poised and elegant, with a twinkle in her eye that makes you aware that she is sizing you up. Looking at her I am reminded of many classic beauties of film. Like Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn, she has a very natural grace about her that is both wise and playful. She is wearing a new creation for Les Lunes, but if it is one that will make it to the line she doesn’t yet know. Right now she’s taking it for a test drive.
She offers me coffee and waits for me to get settled in to begin the interview. Mélanie has a slight easy smile that suggests she is waiting for something to make her laugh, or maybe that she finds all of life mildly amusing. This smile is always present.
As soon as we begin, the passion for her craft pours out of her. We speak of her childhood in a rural area of the south of France, of her brothers and many cousins. We speak of the strong women that were an integral part of the family survival. How they were always making something for the household and helping the men, a constant source of strength that is born from love and commitment.
Being a bit of a tomboy in a family of mostly boys, she was constantly asking “Why can’t I do the same things as my brother?” The expectations of a girl's behavior is different than that of a boys in much of the world and the south of France is no exception. “I would be climbing trees, but I would be wearing a beautiful dress. I didn’t want to choose between being pretty and doing whatever I wanted to do.”
Her family wasn’t poor, but they were very frugal. When she was six years old she wanted different clothes for her doll. Her parents wouldn’t buy them for her so she asked for a sewing machine instead. This is how she began. Later, when she was in school, she received hand me downs from a cousin that was a little older than her, but she also needed uniforms for sports. She started to make her own and after a while began making them for her team members too. In this way she found joy in “Creating something that is born from a need and a story.”
When it came time to choose a course of study she chose to follow her heart. While she was good at mathematics her passion was in creation. The fashion industry is competitive and a profession in the math and sciences may have been a safer bet, but she was compelled to choose the harder path. Her process in designing is unique in the field. She studies the women she will be designing for, learning what inspires them and then transposes it into clothing. When I ask how she does this, she talks of methodology that is much like an actor getting into character.
Mélanie talks a lot about balance. She tells me “I want to balance dressing pretty with repairing the car.” When she is designing clothes, Melanie is thinking of the woman that will be wearing them: how she moves, and what she will need to do in a day. The goal of Les Lunes clothing is having pieces that will transition seamlessly from work to play. “The clothing needs to support the woman.” Les Lunes primarily uses rayon sourced from bamboo that is luxuriously soft and resistant to wrinkles. It has an elegant drape and, coupled with Mélanie’s designs, compliments a woman’s body and allows her to move freely while looking good doing it. Mélanie is creating timeless elegant pieces that will be an essential in your wardrobe, not flash in the pan styles that are obsolete by next season.
Her secret weapon is her apartment in Paris. I didn’t know it was possible for her to light up any more but when I ask if there is a place that inspires her to create, she begins to glow. Her beautiful, rich accent thickens and I have trouble following as she begins to speak more rapidly. An artist once inhabited the apartment. In fact the whole building is full of artists, and the creative energy is thick there, spiraling around in a vortex of ideas. It is in this place Melanie says', “I create from my strong universe.” Her artisanship is very intentional, bringing something of beauty and function to light with quality and longevity.
And here is where it gets really good. Mélanie gives us the key to following our dreams, if we are brave enough to do so. “For change, you have to break the limits. You have to break all the rules. In order to make room for new creative energy to flow, you have to tear down everything you know. Once you wipe the slate clean you are able to be unique.”
The last words she says are enlightening and freeing for me: “The clothes are there to support the woman, we are not there to fit them.” And again back to balance. “Don’t choose to be only one thing, you can be pretty, comfortable, strong… all that you want to be. Keep your uniqueness.”
It is safe to say that I am completely enamored with Les Lunes’ Mélanie Viallon and I believe the world soon will be as well.
Her Current Favorite Les Lunes is the Scoop Neck Lace Body Suit.
Melanie believes that to access and truly see someone’s heart you must see what they wear close to their skin. Your first glimpse of who they are is shown in their outerwear. But under the outerwear there is lingerie, which is worn closest to the body and the heart, revealing how they feel on the inside. Melanie understands the importance of this heart, lingerie connection; it is why she chose to study lingerie design.
This bodysuit is the perfect bridge between your intimate self and the layer you show to the world. It is simple, fitting the body perfectly, with a touch of something very feminine and well made. "With this essential I have all the elements that I need to express myself, how I am outside and who I am inside".