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18 June 2019

Masks and Feathers by Maud Ruby

As we are constantly trying to interview and learn more about artists and makers whose creativity and originality has driven them to excel in their field, Kreamondo had the privilege of interviewing the milliner and designer Maud Ruby and learn more about her art, her background and her eponymous brand.

© Maud Ruby

How did you first come in contact with fashion and millinery ? Where did your love for textiles come from ?

I am an die-hard fan of My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. The opening scene depicts people coming out of the opera wearing dresses made out of feathers, embroidered shoes, lace dresses, pearls… I think my passion for fashion started with that scene, which I cannot stop watching, even to this day… The whole movie is a testament to elegance.
As a kid, my grand-mother taught me how to stitch, sew and knit. I was always doing manual work such as silk painting, weaving, jewellery, sculpture, casting…
Nevertheless, I didn’t know that I wanted to become a feather milliner. My professional encounters within the industry have led me to it.
Whilst studying fashion-design, I was told that I had a knack for textiles but I was very keen on exploring everything fashion had to offer.
I found my answers by specialising in accessories, and more precisely, hat making.

Following my years at Greta, I was introduced to one of Paris’ last artificial flowers and feathers workshop. That’s where I met Mr. Legeron. I got along with Mr. Legeron so well that I stayed there for 5 years.
They taught me everything about feather work and traditional ways to work it.
Since then, I’ve evolved within this universe. After various stints in different workshops, I started working independently in 2015-2016.

© Maud Ruby

How would you define your line of work ?

As a milliner, you need to know how to apprehend volume. The trade itself is very broad. You can work in a multitude of domains : theatre, dressmaking or ready-to-wear. Each domain involves different techniques.
Personally, I headed towards fashion, using ancient techniques such as plaiting. What pleased me was the balance and complementarity between force and finesse. There are also beautiful encounters with suppliers and producers.
As of today, the trade might seem outdated but it’s making a come-back. An attire with a hat always draws attention and a lot of press which designers have fully understood in recent times (Dior, Balmain, Margiela…).

Fashion and feather-work are complementary. It always comes down to the manipulation of materials and how to deal with volume.
Feather-work requires patience and precision. Its applications are broader, often ennobling textiles like embroidery does. The feather often fascinates due to its holiness and soothing attributes. Nowadays, we are concerned by the protection of the fauna and flora and the fashion industry managed to evolve with its time. Since 1913 and the Washington Convention, we can only use feathers from farming birds that we consume ourselves and rare bird feathers come from old stocks.
It is a difficult line of work focusing on passion where one has to build and cement his/her place.

© Taline Kassar

How would you describe the uniqueness/singularity of your hats ? 

I wanted to combine fashion with streetwear and graphic designs on simple hats, easy to wear.
I kept the same level of expectations and high standards as when I was working in high-fashion on bespoke orders.
Hats are like white pages that will allow you to express yourself. The material itself is a source of inspiration.

© Taline Kassar

Does your casual chich collection aim to make high-fashion more accessible ?

It started with an observation : it’s always the same shapes of hats that are worn in the streets, fédoras or capeline. I wanted to add a touch of chic and bring my own universe. So there is a high-fashion aspect to my work. It’s a beautiful accessory that we wear on an everyday basis or for a party to stand out, as you would with a beautiful handbag.
We have the luxury of having our content travel the world with social media. Instagram, websites and online shops can cross borders and reach a wide and diverse audience.
It is the desire to combine artistic craft with a trendy product which, I hope, will please to a community which seeks difference and quality.

© Maud Ruby

What would you say to a young man/woman who wishes to follow this passion ?

Courage and perseverance ! It will be a long and difficult journey. You cannot neglect building and cementing a network while on this journey.
At the moment, there are few schools and brands recruiting and the rewards are scarce…
However, it’s a thrill to work on a dress that will feature on a catwalk ! To work for the biggest names in fashion ! What pride to see your work coming together !”

© Maud Ruby

A huge thank you to Maud Ruby for this enlightening interview which allows us to better understand the world of fashion and that of millinery. You can find her past work, collections and projects on her website.

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