Tonight, HAVENEY, a minimalist brand hailing from the South of France, hits the runway of Vancouver Fashion Week. We met up with 20-year old designer, Marie-Laetitia Rossazza, and her partner, boyfriend, and translator, Gregoire Allin to share the story of their debut line and show off one of their pieces. All language barriers aside, it’s obvious that HAVENEY is rooted in earnest work, handcrafted quality, and feminine silhouettes, and we are excited to have some French charm in the city this week!
MTI: Tell me about the collection you’ve brought to Vancouver.
H: It’s a female-only brand of dresses and clothes for evening and parties. It’s for girls who want to be elegant, and not be too shiny and “bling-bling.” It’s for girls who want to be minimalist; who care about the details of the clothes and want to wear something handmade in France. It’s not something that’s made by kids. You know it’s good quality. It’s French quality. We’re trying to make something good. The main colours are black and white with a little touch of other colours and details. That’s the way of minimalism style.
MTI: Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
H: The inspiration comes from the everyday woman. We want to highlight a woman’s frame with little details. And we get inspiration from minimalism art – like Japanese art or Japanese architecture. Less is more. We’re not looking at just fashion magazines and blogs everyday. Inspiration comes from everything.
MTI: Are there any style icons you look up to?
H: Blake Lively, maybe. But I’m not in love with stars or famous people. It’s not me. HAVENEY is not a brand really for us to be “stars.” We want to keep it natural. We want people to wear HAVENEY, but not have a big “HAVENEY” across their shirt. People who wear HAVENEY are people who don’t want people to see that they’re wearing HAVENEY. Some people buy Louis Vuitton bags just for the logo, but we’re not looking for these types of people.
MTI: How would you describe your creative process?
H: She has a book, and every day, every moment, she’s just drawing. Then she takes it to the seamstress, and they think about it together. The principal objective is to have the drawing come to reality, and the reality has to be the same as the drawing. This is “feeling” work, if that makes sense. It’s like we’re an artist, and we’re going to make a painting. We don’t think too much about it.
MTI: Who have been the most influential people in your life?
H: The first people are her friends. At the beginning, she was just drawing some dresses, and not thinking about making it a reality. Everyone who saw the drawings would say, “You have to do that. You have to make it.” So that was the first motivation – to make it first for our friends and not to sell. After, her parents motivated her to go to design school. We studied in Nice, and then we moved to Marseilles, because I worked for a fashion brand there. She had nothing to do for this year, so we were like, “Okay, let’s go.” We had one year to create a brand. And we worked on it everyday, all day. Everything is handmade by us. The two of us make everything for the brand with no help – the logo, the website, the drawing, shooting the photos, everything. Even the music of our videos – a friend of ours made it.
MTI: What have some of the biggest challenges?
H: The biggest challenge was that we had no contacts. We didn’t know a lot of things about how to make a brand and how to create your own enterprise. We had to talk to a lot of people. We had to find some money. We had to find out how to make your own logo and make it so that nobody can steal it – all that stuff. The biggest challenge wasn’t to create the dresses. It was to create the brand, because it was a lot of paperwork, and we didn’t know anything about that. There’s a lot of associations in France that help you to create your own brand, so that was pretty cool, because it wasn’t like we were swimming in the big sea on our own. We had some people to help us, because the administration part is really difficult when you want to create something real.
MTI: What’s some of the best things about having your own brand?
H: To be in Vancouver! The brand is only 5-6 months old, and we are already in Vancouver, so that’s pretty crazy. The second thing is that the thing she had in her head came to reality. It’s beautiful. It’s a dream. When she looks at a dress for the first time, it’s magical. You only see it on paper, and then when you come back, you see it for real.
MTI: How would you describe your personal style?
H: We feel like the fashion at this moment is trying to make the girl more masculine and the man more feminine. The girls are wearing sneakers and sometimes wearing hats. She’s trying not to go in that direction. She’s trying to keep her femininity. It’s sad that girls want to be less and less feminine. That’s the way she tries to make HAVENEY. Her personal style is femininity, but she also doesn’t want to spend 2 hours in the bathroom in the morning. And that’s the same philosophy as HAVENEY. You only wear a HAVENEY dress, and you look beautiful. You don’t have to wear a lot of make-up on or add much to the dress.
MTI: What are some things you do outside of being a fashion designer?
H: Before, she was studying. But now, it’s only about HAVENEY. That’s the only thing we think about. We are drawing a lot. We are going to art exhibitions and listening to music at night. But the day is all HAVENEY.
MTI: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to break into the fashion industry?
H: When you want, you can. If you are really in love with your work, if you really want to make it, you have to work, but it’s possible. You don’t need a lot of money. You need some, but not a lot. You need contacts, but you can also make it if you don’t have contacts. If you believe in your project; if you really want it and want to create it, it’s possible. The best thing is to love it. You don’t have to lie to yourself. You really have to love it to make it. When you love it, it’s not work.
Dress by: HAVENEY
Photography by: Rebekah Ho