THE WISDOM WOMEN

The dreamy, fantasy-adjacent creations of French fashion designer Valeriane Venance invite the viewer into the parallel world of sage matriarchs, women often shunned throughout history. In an interview for SWARM Mag, Valeriane outlines what does “indépendantes de coeur” translate into for her, her inspiration journey, and how does one “sculpt a garment to perfectly marry someone's needs and desires.”

The main storyline of your dreamy collection, WISDOM WOMEN, revolves around women seeking a parallel world to escape society. Could you give us more details?

The story of the Wisdom Women took place in my head at a moment I wanted an escape door myself. As a response to the realisation of how patriarchally dominant our society is. It’s an ode to the ancient wisdom, women possessed, who later on in the Occident (West) were named witches by the Catholic church and hunted like beasts. It also comes from within me as a 27-year-old woman suffering from the attacks of this outer world on the journey to embrace my feminity.

Also, the Icelandic population still carries a strong belief in the hidden people, know as Huldufolk. They are supernatural beings whose apparence is close to humans. The acknowledgment of the two worlds inspired the creation of my Wisdom Women. The coldness and vast nature of the Icelandic lands helped forge a fortress of their own. They came back into our world starting an aesthetic guerrilla movement – “guerre sans armes a coup de soies enveloppante” (unarmed warfare with wraparound silks).

What is the process when building a collection? Do you delve into long preparation and research before starting?

The research part is important in the making of a collection. Long research, certainly! I find that new inspirations are always naturally making their ways to you. My research is a collection of all big and little things that have inspired me through traveling, watching movies, discovering new musical and visual artists, sometimes dissecting a theme when your mind catches one, like the Huldufolk for this collection. But the research process lasts throughout the entire project and is a never ending circle.

Could you tell us about the incredible casting? What was the primary factor in selecting people for the project?

Indépendantes de coeur (in French) stands for the feminine “independent at heart”. Which translates for me as an absolute freedom in behaviour and attitude. All the incredible women present in the show are friends or/and women I’ve been admiring. All of them have strong personalities and are naturally shining with independence, both in the way they evolve in their chosen profession and where they stand as women. My wisdom women this season are all beautiful rising artists whose collaboration have infused the show with love.

Can you tell us what the connection between fashion and art is for you?

Fashion and art are intertwined. You can make a hat a piece of art by materialising a personal aesthetic fantasy with your own ten fingers and then wear it – the connection starts in one’s brain and hands.

Could you tell us a bit about your journey as a designer?

I’ve been into designing and working with fabric since a young age. Both of my grandmothers were seamstresses and for a long period of time, they were the wonderful witches creating the pieces in my wardrobe. I wasn’t much involved in the sewing process but looking back, it kind of transmitted a notion of stylistic and shape research and gave me the opportunity to wear what any 5-year-old girl would call a dream princess dress everyday.

I studied Womenswear in Paris and moved to London after I graduated where I started working for designers. I was always making things on the side. I had half a collection ready when Covid started and made another half through lockdown.

Has your view of the female body changed since starting your label? 

My understanding of the female form has changed in the sense that gradually I grasped a better understanding of what a body was, what a body needs and how to sculpt a garment in order for it to perfectly marry someone’s needs and desires. My vision can only evolve through sharing and listening, has never been fixed and continues to evolve daily. And for this I am so thankful.

Per our current theme, FULL OF DESIRE: as a fashion designer, you always have to be ahead of trends. What do you think people desire from fashion nowadays? 

The notion of ‘trend’ has never been a part of my daily routine nor has it been a part of conversations that inspire me and it certainly hasn’t ever been a deciding factor in my creative process. I dress in second-hand clothing, designer pieces, handmade or other. I have many archivist friends who celebrate different time capsules. Removing myself from trends means I am not considered a big label – I don’t operate within the fashion industry’s calendar per se. The industry doesn’t expect me to show up at a given time, which enables me to create within my own rules and constraints.

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Bio

Valeriane Venance is a French fashion designer based in London. Her label “Indépendantes De Coeur” for Valeriane Venance emerged in 2021 followed by a first show “The Wisdom Women” which took place at The horse Hospital in March of this year. The label is entirely self founded and is focused on made to measure/bespoke pieces. 

Alongside her brand, she recently worked in collaboration with renowned label Comme Des Garçons, has been shot by the famous duo of photographers “Pierre et Gilles” and has been worn by the likes of singer songwriter Celeste, actress Fanny Ardant, trans activist and fashion editor Muneroe Bergdorf. Her pieces can be found in publications such as, Document Journal, Numéro Berlin, QG, Bricks magazine, TMRW Mag, Sensor and others.

Credits

Fashion design / Valeriane Venance @valerianevnc

Interview / Kateřina Hynková

THE WISDOM WOMEN lookbook

Yasmin @opheliathanatos

Photography @brianrankin

Styling @izzigloom

Hair @cmstanley13

Make-up @_kunomari

Set design @miag

3D printed accessories (Yars/horns) @theotime_sorgato

Knitted stockings @julidenktasli

Styling assistant @guccisamo

Hair assistants @joydarlinginnit @yurikato_hair @karenelizabradshaw

Make-up assistants @nuts7230 @s.a.a.y.a_t

Set include nymphs candles by @imogenvanderpols

Behind the scenes pictures by Charlie Lockyer

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