Interview of Claire Terentiev, Creative Director
As an international brand catering to the general public, Chantelle aims to satisfy the greatest number of consumers possible, covering all needs in terms of intimates, shapewear, sports and maternity underwear and beachwear. To achieve this, the brand sounds out markets and socio-cultural trends, thus meeting the requirements of women all over the world. All Chantelle collections are geared around top quality and fabric requirements.
What’s the starting point for a Chantelle collection?
We base all our collections on information gleaned in the field regarding customer expectations, analysed by our marketing department. Then it’s up to us to harness this information to tell a story, which will become the central theme of the entire collection. Our stories draw inspiration from our surroundings: hot stylistic trends, haute couture fashion shows, trends in home decoration, etc. And we quite naturally adapt all these parameters fuelling our imagination so that they mirror the Chantelle DNA: an elegant French brand that epitomises Couture chic, without giving any airs.
What are the main expectations you have striven to meet for summer 2018?
More than ever, we’re tapping into emotion. We are moving away from blatant sex appeal, placing more emphasis on feelings than appearance. Women yearn for lightweight softness, sophistication, subtlety and discretion. First detected in July 2016 by teams working for the LYCRA® brand, the athleisure trend is now hotter than ever given the central role sport plays in our daily lives, not necessarily as a quest for performance, more that its distinctive codes shape fashion collections.
What role does fabric play in your design processes?
I can’t do a thing without fabric! Once the collection story has been drafted, the design department hunts out the fabrics to recount it. We have an all-essential, ongoing discussion with our suppliers, in which they listen carefully to our needs and we pay great attention to their latest developments, seeking out new fabric performances.
What do you think are the most important qualities in a fabric?
Our specifications set a high standard in terms of intrinsic qualities of our fabrics, which are subjected to much strain. I feel that the essence is linked to the customer’s in-store experience. Their first contact with the product is when they touch it. They are attracted by an article’s print, tint or cut, then they take it from the rack. If this contact proves disappointing, they put it back. If the feel appeals, they might try it on, and again, the fabric is of utmost importance: it must provide not only support but comfort and a pretty shaping effect. Ultimately, they remember the brand if the product retains its shape, look and colour over time. Hence Chantelle’s work with crisp fabrics, which offer optimum support, and are lightweight enough to ensure true comfort and freedom of movement even with shapewear. With swimwear there’s the additional requirement of withstanding salt, chlorine, sun cream etc for which LYCRA® XTRA LIFE fiber rises superbly to the occasion.
Describe your ideal fabric!
For intimates, my dream would be a fabric that’s ultra soft and lightweight, but with a crisp feel and a slightly sheer, satiny look. This would help us achieve a truly comfy garment that could nestle right against the skin, without needing a lining. In beachwear, the fabric must be hardwearing, quick-drying and comfortable, yet given that the body is exposed, we have even greater expectations for a crisp fabric ensuring impeccable support, and shaping a pretty silhouette. No need for a sheer aspect on the beach though!
Do you sometimes fall for a fabric, building lines based on a specific fabric?
Ah yes, all the time! I’m always handling fabrics, and I only select those that make an impression. The emotion or reaction the fabric triggers is all-essential. Appeal is all.
Could you give us a recent example of a fabric that inspired you?
Two of our latest innovations in sport have been developed using a polyamide containing LYCRA® fibre. As soon as I touched this soft, breathable fabric, I knew it would meet our requirements for sports bras. We used this fabric in two soft bras for summer 2017: one designed for gentle sports (such as yoga and stretching), the other for more moderate exercise (fitness and cycling). Both offer optimum support with cups in 59% polyamide and 41% LYCRA® fiber, combining comfort and impeccable shape as the wearer exercises.
Could you tell us which beachwear lines owe their success mostly to their fabric?
In Summer 2017, the “Tulum” line was a great hit with its polyamide and LYCRA® XTRA LIFE technology knit. It was available as a subtle, modern crocodile print, with an ultra-flat, seamless finish for extra comfort. “Barbade” was also very popular with its plain, satiny knit, also made with polyamide and LYCRA® XTRA LIFE fiber, which was ideal for a sexy interplay of flat pleating.
What are you laying your bets on for summer 2018?
I’m especially thinking of our “Eivissa“ line which should be popular given the quality of its polyamide and LYCRA® XTRA LIFE fiber, available in both plain and printed versions and featuring a sensual drape.