Saturday, January 7, 2017

Luxarazzi 101: Marcin Lobacz (In His Own Words)

Princess Tessy in a gown by Marcin Lobacz on National Day 2016 (All pictures courtesy of Marcin Lobacz)
During the past year, Princess Tessy wore gowns and dresses by Marcin Lobacz for various occasions both in Luxembourg and abroad - and you obviously liked it voting her tiara appearance on National Day as your favourite gala appearance of the year by quite a margin. High time to have a closer look at Marcin Lobacz - and who better to tell us more about his creations and what inspires him than the London-based designer himself?! Enjoy our interview with the man behind the dresses and a major thank you to Marcin for taking the time for giving us such an interesting and inspirational insight into his work!

From her gown for the national day gala to the black dress she wore when meeting Pope Francis, you have created some of the best known looks of Princess Tessy in 2016. Can you tell us if you have a personal favourite among the dresses?

Marcin Lobacz with Princess Tessy in the ML Couture
Custom Peridot Catsuit Gown at the big opening
of the Royal Global Artistic Forum Exhibition
at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
Marcin Lobacz: My dresses are my babies, every single one is special to me in a different way, hence it is difficult to pick my personal favourite. However, the fact remains that the creation which made the greatest impact all over the world was the famous Couture Gown in Turquoise and Orange, Nassau Colours, worn by Princess Tessy at the gala of the Luxembourgish National Day and in celebration of her 10th wedding anniversary.
It took its starting point from the quote by Sir Cecil Beaton, one of the most celebrated British Portrait Photographers of the Twentieth Century, Diarist and Renaissance Man renowned for his love of elegance, glamour and style: "More varied than any landscape was the landscape in the sky, with islands of gold and silver, peninsulas of apricot and rose against a background of many shades of turquoise and azure."
It was also the dress spotted by His Excellency Shaikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, who invited me to exhibit it during his Royal Global Artistic Forum at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre, which was the reason of my trip with Princess Tessy to attend the event in Dubai. The Gown was on display in "The significance of Court Dress" section of the exhibition next to the gown from The Dutch Royal Court.

How did you first meet Princess Tessy?
Princess Tessy and Prince Louis were the Guests of Honour at my Private Event in the heart of Mayfair; Couture Showroom Presentation „In Your Wildest Dreams” - the Fashion Journey through London, St. Tropez and Panama in The Clarendon Room at Brown’s Hotel in London, celebrating my namesday, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours, on the 11th of November 2015.
The ML Couture Moonstone Gown from the Spring-Summer 2017 Couture Collection by Marcin Lobacz
Please talk us through the process of creating a dress for Princess Tessy, is she very involved or does she give you a carte blanche?

It varies depending on the circumstances, occasion and time frames, which are usually very tight and unpredictable. For instance, while I was designing the Custom Waterfall Cape Dress in Onyx Black especially for Princess Tessy to wear during a private audience of Luxembourg’s Royal Family with His Holiness Pope Francis in Vatican City or the Custom Emerald and Sapphire Chiffon Cocktail Dress for the meeting with Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace, formal requirements were my number one priority. I wanted both dresses to look very modest, subtle and understated; conservative and modern at the same time, which required an accumulative number of hours working on hand draping and real craftsmanship while finishing. In my opinion, elegant means appropriate for the occasion in the first place. I never reject my signature style though – a designer’s role is to work well to the brief and find methods to present his vision in the right way.
Princess Tessy in The ML Couture Custom Emerald
and Sapphire Cocktail Dress ready to meet
Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace
Coming back to the gown for the National Day, Princess Tessy hand-picked the style in one of her favourite colours from my Couture collection. Sophisticated, understated elegance of the look immediately attracted her attention as the ideal creation for the most important day in the Luxembourgish Royal Calendar. The outfit was bespoked especially for her, having been customized to meet personal requirements and preference regarding the shape of cleavage and the length.
Exquisite family jewellery was personally chosen by H.R.H. the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg to match my design and in accordance with Princess Tessy’s wish to put emphasis on the clean minimalistic line of the dress silhouette by juxtaposing it with more elaborate Art Nouveau tiara as well as Art Deco earrings and bracelet encrusted with precious stones reflecting the overall colour palette.
There are also situations, when ready styles from the collection work really well for the particular event without any amendments, which was the case when Princess Tessy wore my Moonstone Gown for the Diplomatic Black&White Charity Ball 2016, Amethyst Gown for the Big Dutch Masters Gala and Rhodochrosite Gown for the Prince’s Trust Gala Dinner with The Prince of Wales, all those styles come from my brand new Couture collection for Spring-Summer 2017.  

Where do you find the inspiration for your work? 

Marcin Lobacz with Sheikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa of Bahrain
at the big opening of the Royal Global Artistic Forum Exhibition
at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
I wouldn’t be able to live, nor create, without music. The world of sounds inspires thoughts, images of colors, texture and shapes, which can then become the starting point for my collection. Mother Nature is my real muse; flowers, animals, the sunset sky... all elements, even the scent or a simple gesture have the power to influence what I design to a great degree, provided the initial interest leads to some real emotion. There is nothing stronger than the truth and first-hand experience. Particular inspiration depends on the collection but it is always about women for whom I design and their dreams. I observe women and that is where my vision comes from- who they are, what perfume they wear, how they live, what they dream of… unveiling part of their mystery. I would like to accentuate a woman’s individual personality and make her feel as if she were born in my creations. Also the fabric that I decide to use might be an inspiration. One idea sparks the next. The process of creation should never be preconceived. I find it very important to remain open and let it go, let the research carry you through the journey, without trying too hard. In this way idea development is more thorough and the result remains fresh. Searching for inspiration is very parallel to music– I used to play the piano and now my material is like notes. If you are sensitive enough, able to read and listen, they tell you exactly how to play. Then it is just a matter of interpretation.

What was it that sparked your initial interest in fashion? And what made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?

I grew up in the Opera and Musical Theatre where my Mother performed as a Soprano and I was lucky to be surrounded by the magical world of wonderful classical music, fabulous costumes and the appreciation for Arts. I have always loved drawing and what I was illustrating, even as a child, revolved around women and what they wear. I think the Theatre was the best environment for my natural passion to grow. I chose it as a professional pathway very early and I started working in the fashion industry before my formal education in this area so everything happened the other way round. When I was still at the gymnasium, I decided to design and make a capsule collection, which was followed by my first catwalk show at the age of 15. Then I produced the next collection and at 17, my first clients appeared: The opera singers, who sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, The Royal Opera House in London and The Deutsche Oper in Berlin. I started my formal fashion education only after I had passed my Baccalaureate. I have always been fascinated by the old school techniques and the heritage of Haute Couture so I was taking relevant courses, which developed my pattern making, sewing as well as millinery skills, hence my background is very much in the field of Bespoke wardrobe. I moved to London in pursuit of my dream to study at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Simultaneously, I got the chance to broaden my experience at Julien Macdonald and Philip Treacy, with whom I had the pleasure to work on projects for Armani Prive, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, both ready to wear and Haute Couture. I graduated in 2012 and decided to carry on developing my own label based in London.
Princess Tessy wearing the ML Couture Rhodochrosite Gown for the Prince’s Trust Gala Dinner in London
Can you describe your style in three words? 

Effortless Glamour and Elegance - those are my three core brand values. 

If you could have lunch with five fashion icons and/or designers of the past and present, who would you invite?

The Amethyst Gown from the new Spring-Summer 2017 Couture Collection
by Marcin Lobacz (worn by Princess Tessy for the Big Dutch Masters Gala)
Monsieur St Laurent has always been my Hero. No other designer contributed to the history of fashion so much. He gave women not only the greatest amount of key items in their wardrobe but also showed them how to use their power to compete with men on every possible level. He was a Genius and I could speak endlessly but words seem too shallow to reflect his great influence on me and my life. The legacy he left, speaks for itself and that is the biggest achievement of the Designer.
Coco Chanel is another Style Guru for whom I have never ending respect. There would be so many questions that her patience might be challenged! She was so brave and unapologetic, turned the world of fashion upside down with her effortless casual elegance, completely different to what was considered elegant back then. Such act requires charisma, determination, strength and personality.
I would certainly have many synergies to discuss with Madeleine Vionnet. “The Queen of bias-cut”, just like Chanel, moved away from stiff constructions towards much softer, dynamic look, moving with the wearer, so close to my own ideal of beauty. I use a lot of bias-cut in my dresses - a technique, which involves many secrets and requires years of experience to master so a lunch with such an expert Couturier would be invaluable.  
I have always admired Lee Alexander McQueen and he was one of the reasons why I decided to pursue my dream of studying at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. His sharp tailoring, innovative construction, dark aesthetic and fierce decadence still fascinate me. He was a real Artist.
Last but not least, Erte and his universe of exotic extravagance, appreciation for beauty of the human body, magical stage design and elegance of Art Deco illustrations, which next to Art Nouveau, is my favourite period in the history of Art. I love the sensitivity behind his work as well as its theatrical romantic mood, so dear to my heart because of my own background.

The new year is just around the corner: What are your (fashion) goals for 2017? 

Princess Tessy and Marcin Lobacz
shopping together to choose accessories
Designer’s mind never sleeps and is always full of new goals because future becomes past so quickly, especially in my profession. Although planning and being perfectly organized is essential in my work, I am also a great believer in organic development. I have my dreams but don’t plan too far ahead, because in fashion, as in life, everything can change overnight. It is much wiser to simply live, observe and learn, put the energy out there, remain active and open-minded without pushing any fixed scenarios. That is my view on existence in general and I follow the same beliefs in fashion. I am very appreciative of life and what is given to me. My intention is to give back as much as I can to the universe, becoming a new, stronger and better version of myself every day. Personal progress is very important to me and my goals are definitely related to developing my brand further. Haute Couture is my greatest passion and facing the reality, which becomes more and more commercial, I feel an increasing desire to revive real glamour and elegance. All my life is dedicated to dreams and I do my best to make them come true. I love surprises and taking on new challenges. They help us make discoveries about ourselves and others as well as understand who we and they are. Life is like a book and one cannot be stuck on one page; all chapters need to be read in order to get the full meaning of it. For the same reasons, fashion brands change faces of their campaigns or brand ambassadors. That’s what makes waiting for what the future brings so exciting...

Thank you for the interview, Marcin!

If you would like to learn more about Marcin Lobacz and his designs, make sure to visit his website and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MarcinLobacz) and Instagram (@marcinlobaczdesigner).

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