Letter From Paris – Interview with Caroline Tannous, Les Jupons de Tess
“Inspiration for Spring-Summer 2011-2012 is inspired by the beauty marks, “mouches,” worn by 18th Century women to enhance the radiance of their skin. Made in black taffeta or velvet, these decorative beauty marks were used as symbols of elegance, beauty and flirtatious intrigue.”
A gentle kindness envelops Caroline Tannous, the designer behind the lingerie label Les Jupons de Tess. We are sitting in her Parisian showroom and despite the bustle of deliveries, press requests and factory concerns – as well as designing the collection for next winter – serenity and elegance prevails.
Caroline gracefully offers a colorful assortment of Ladurée macaroons: Rose, Praline, Chocolate, Pistachio, and for herself selects a Rose macaroon and sets the plate aside with a demure smile.
We discuss her passion for the 18th Century and the beauty and allure of the Renaissance. Caroline understands how to dress the modern courtesan, which is the beguiling appeal of Les Jupons de Tess. Like those irresistible macaroons resting on a platter nearby, Les Jupons de Tess is an invitation to indulge in the pleasure of temptation.
CAROLINE – THE DESIGNER
Do you remember your first creative experience?
My grandfather was a painter and was very present in my early childhood. I remember mixing colors and painting abstract compositions. I made a mess, actually!
When did you first become interested in clothes and textiles?
My mother tells me that from a very young age, I had definite ideas about what to wear. Later, I had to wear a navy blue uniform to school, which wasn’t very exciting, and I started making elaborate wardrobes for my dolls.
What is it about Paris that inspires fashion and creativity?
The city, the architecture, and particularly Paris at night, reflects a mood and gives an energy that can not be found anywhere else.
What is your favorite part of designing a collection?
Sourcing fabrics is very exciting for me and creates the atmosphere for the collection.
PLEASURES & INSPIRATIONS
Where are you likely to be on a sunny Saturday afternoon?
I have two small children and we take every opportunity to go to Disneyland Paris.
And on a rainy Saturday afternoon?
I’m likely chez moi making pastries.
Salé ou sucré? (Salt or sugar?)
Both! I love Thai food. I traveled to Thailand when I was 19 years old and remember being profoundly moved by the kindness of the Thai people and the beauty and luminosity of the country. Thai food reminds me of that experience.
Favorite restaurant in Paris?
Etienne Marcel, 34 Rue Etienne Marcel in the 2nd arrondissement. Absolutely the best french fries – I know, french fries are an odd choice with such a rich culinary selection available in Paris, but really, they’re the best!
A Ladurée rose macaroon, bien sûr!
THE BUSINESS OF LINGERIE
What made you decide to create your own lingerie brand?
I worked for many years in the marketing and distribution experience in the lingerie industry, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my daughter that I had an incredible desire to express the wonder and beauty of her existence. Les Jupons de Tess is a natural and creative extension for me.
In 2011, LJT was launched, which responds to a market demand for more accessible prices and targets a younger audience.
What is it about your collection that women appreciate most?
A nostalgia for the luxury and coquettish style of women of the 18th Century. A return of glamor and elegance of the past; taking the time to get dressed, appreciating a small detail and choice of beautiful fabrics and laces.
What do you see as the latest trend in consumer demand?
There is a real demand for luxury, natural fabrics, and designs that are sexy.
JUST FOR FUN
Do you remember your first bra?
Yes, I was with my mother in Paris. We bought an ivory bra from Princesse Tam Tam – youthful and innocent.
Do you wear mismatched lingerie?
Yes, by choice, but I select pieces that work together. It’s rare that I wear a matching ensemble.
What’s your favorite spice?
What would you be doing if you weren’t designing?
Traveling and working for a non-profit in the far east.
Can you give us a sneak preview for the Salon de la Lingerie in Paris in January?
Inspiration for Spring-Summer 2011-2012 is inspired by the beauty marks, “mouches,” worn by 18th Century women to enhance the radiance of their skin. Made in black taffeta or velvet, these decorative beauty marks were used as symbols of elegance, beauty and flirtatious intrigue.
The collection also includes a stunning jeweled bra that attaches on the side, with the back strap incrusted with Swarovski crystals.
For Autumn-Winter 2012-2013, inspiration reflects the temperaments and dispositions of women in the 18th Century: Les Passionnées, Les Amoureuses, Les Charmeuses, Les Extravantes, Les Rêveuses. Colors are sober and sophisticated; ivory, black, dark navy, violet. Les Parisiennes represents more of a style with gold lace and black satin. Very Parisian. Very chic!
WHERE TO FIND LES JUPONS DE TESS IN THE UNITED STATES
Faire Frou Frou
13017 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
1330 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
1953 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Caroline Tannous is currently looking for an agent or distributor in the United States.
Kathryn Kemp-Griffin founded the lingerie company Soyelle in 1993. After selling Soyelle in 2009, Kathryn founded Pink Bra Bazaar, a lingerie charity dedicated to raising money and awareness for breast cancer. Kathryn also organizes exclusive lingerie tours in Paris as an unusual alternative to the regular tourist attractions. A Toronto native and a Princeton graduate, Kathryn lives with her husband, five children, four cats and a dog in a 500-year-old mill outside of Paris. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org