Roland Mouret, London’s French fashion star

Few designers have dressed as many A-list celebs as Roland Mouret (48), whose devotees include Scarlett Johansson, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham, amongst others. The Frenchman, who moved to London in 1991 and launched the now familiar concept of the “It Dress” in 2006 with his iconic Galaxy, talks to Chic-Londres about his life, career and what inspires him.

Which memories do you keep from your Lourdes, the pilgrimage town, where you grew up?Lourdes has always been for me a city of lights, not so much because of its religious association, but because I have always thought it looks like a funfair. As a child, I was particularly impressed by all the windows full of illuminations, which seemed almost magical. It is a city where people come to find some hope, but it is also very commercial, with all the hypocrisy that this aspect entails.

What has been your training as a designer?I am a self made man, as I mostly learnt to design on my own. I did start studying at a fashion school in Paris, but I left after three months , in part because I felt quite insecure, and in a way felt more comfortable learning the trade by myself rather than with others. So as a result I have done all kinds of jobs in fashion, from model to artistic director in magazines, before starting as a designer. I consider this experience as a wonderful training ground, as it enabled me to consider fashion from all points of view and to really understand what women want.

Why did you choose this career?For me, this choice was all about breaking up with taboos, conformism and what was perceived as « acceptable » when I grew up. Also, as the son of a butcher, I learnt at an early age how important garments are in forging an identity and as a result, designing clothes are a way to express who I really am.

What did motivate your move to London in 1991?I had previously spent ten years living in Paris and couldn’t stand its gloomy climate anymore, which I found depressing, as I felt like people were projecting their misery upon others. I had just turned 30 at the time and decided it was time to move to London, which had attracted me since I was a child. Now, London has become my hometown and the city most in tune with my personality: I find its lifestyle very easy going and really enjoy the green spaces, as well as its diversity and the fact that people are so open minded.

How would you describe elegance?For me, elegance is defined by the way a person moves and the magic such movements can create, in the wrists, ankles or neck… Elegance is also about one’s life experience: I don’t think it is something you were born with, but something that you can learn, and acquire through time, like wrinkles! Elegance is also about having a positive presence that commands attention, but which is different from beauty: some people are very beautiful, but they are not elegant.

What would you consider as a major fashion faux pas?Wearing a new pair of shoes without having taken the time to remove the price tags on their sole: that really drives me mad!

Are there many differences between the French and British sense of fashion?There are many less than before, although it is true that the British consider the idea of having taste as a whole, while in France people still differentiate what they consider to be « good » taste as opposed to the rest.

How did you react when you lost the right to your name in 2006 after separating from your then business partners and how is it to work in partnership with show businessman Simon Fuller?Losing my name was very traumatic, but as in every experience in life, however negative, it has had the positive effect to make me evolve and progress, which means I have no regrets. As for my collaboration with Simon Fuller, it has been so far very fruitful, as we share a common vision. Many people thought our partnership would be all about showing off and show business, because he launched the Spice Girls and is still the Beckham’s manager, but that is not the case at all: he aims to nourish talents, and remains very respectful in the way he does it.

What is your vision for the RM brand?RM is still a growing baby, but my goal is to keep on creating clothes that my clients like, while creating surprises and reinventing my style at the same time. Most importantly, I don’t want to base my career on the single notion of the « It Dress », even though those dresses -the Galaxy, the Titanium, the Moon and the Pigalle- have launched my name: RM should be more about a silhouette than about just a dress. This year, I am also launching menswear, which I have been testing on myself!

What can you tell about you that we don’t know?I hate snakes, a phobia I have had since I was a child which means I would never set a foot in Australia! And I have never, ever written an email in my life…