Born in Beirut, Murielle Maalouf graduated in May 2017 from Parsons School of Design in New York, with a BFA degree in Fashion Design, focused on Womenswear and textiles. Brought up in the Fashion world through her Mother, Gemy Maalouf who herself is a fashion designer, Murielle has developed her own style based on her own perspective and vision. By assisting her Mother in the business, Murielle was exposed to the Fashion industry in her early years through fashion events and exhibitions. Her latest collection Deux à Deux, which represents her thesis and graduating collection, is a reflection on Human relationships, how they start and evolve. It has also been a reflection of the designer's past and current relationships which led the collection to have multi collaborative aspects.
Today we spoke to Murielle at her exhibition space in Tribeca.
So what’s the purpose of this exhibition?
Basically, we are five designers - all women graduates from Parsons. We came together to create a show that talks about how normally objects are seen just for their functionality and so we decided to re-imagine the constructs we have for certain constructs in our society and how they exist in this space as expressions of feelings. So we curated this space to give a dream-like setting that’s a lot of dramatic shadows - most of the objects on the table represent objects with anthropomorphic characteristics. All of the designers in the show are product designers, I’m the only one who’s a fashion designer. So I created things that don’t necessarily have to function around someone, but the human touch is an aspect I definitely wanted to keep. That’s why my pieces are interactive.
For example, this piece is inspired by processing feelings and how as you go through the different levels, the more you’re connected with someone - so the interactive aspect is strong here.
The pillars also play on the interactive aspect of humans. The red colors represent intensity for me, so of course, red represents the intensity of emotions but a lot of people interpret it in different ways. I didn’t actually put anything in the description because I wanted the viewer to interpret the intensity like either anger or what it brings into someone - not necessarily love or anything romantic. So yeah, I left the interpretation aspect up to the user.
Does your other work have a functional element to it?
Yes, the collections I’ve done in the past are definitely wearable. Sometimes there is this aspect of abstract, for example, I created gloves that were already attached to the garment. Of course, I’ve heard “would people wear this?” and “how is this functional?”.
But that’s the point, not everything needs to be worn every single day. I don't believe in fast fashion and all that, so for me, it’s like if you’re wearing this piece you might wear it once but it will last for so long. For me designing and patternmaking is such a big deal, I enjoy doing this a lot. But in terms of the concept itself, I would definitely want to explore things that I’ve created in the past and turn them into more understandable pieces - even while creating them it can be hard to keep the details under control.
What’s your design process?
It’s never one straight line. I’ll normally melt some wax and create molds, and the cast them and see if I can wear them or not. In terms of jewelry, it’s always about how it fits, but for this collection, I let go of that a bit - it wasn’t as important as the interactive element.
Murielle’s collection Deux à Deux also has this focus on social interaction.
Human behaviors and social interactions have always been a focus of mine, and for this collection, I decided to reflect on my own social interactions and relationships, I focused on how they start, evolve and end, as well as the impact that Proximity, Contact and Embrace have on them.
The relationships I had with people during my thesis year have also shaped this collection dramatically, and emerged as collaborations, which was the first aspect of my collection, “Deux à Deux”.
Deux à Deux means two by two, it is a phrase that derives from my childhood and my days at school; whenever we were walking in groups it was always suggested that we should walk two by two and I never really realized that this was the moment “Companionship” was introduced to us.