Carolina Franzoi was born in Brazil, spending most of her life in São Paulo before plunging into life between the mountains and the ocean in the Basque Country Region, ‘Captain Couturier started two years ago among big swells and windy storms, during the winter of southwest France. Right at this little port where I used to live, listening to a symphony of waves hitting rocks and fishermen moving their boats. Meanwhile I was working on my projects surrounded by an inspiring, magical atmosphere of nature’s power and the solitude [of] hard labour with my sewing machine.’
For her, Captain Couturier symbolises a marriage of nature and handshape, ancient and new, comfort and elegance, classic and modern, dream and reality, technical and emotional. A duality delivering balance, functionality and natural beauty.
She explains, ‘The ‘C’ from Captain Couturier comes from traditional blason of old initials ornamented embroidery from ancient leftover table and bed cloth that I would transform into clothes. This is how I would like my brand to be remembered – as a souvenir that fits good and does good [for] the heart. The logo embroidered on the final piece is a signature but also a special detail that spurs memories from when clothes used to be sewed with the best quality to last. The embroidery brings the actual value the piece is asking for; unique and as special as the person who is going to wear that piece.’
How do you work, in order to produce your work?
One of the main fuels for creativity and a productive state of mind comes from working with my hands as a dedication of time and love [going] into each unique piece; a path of meditation as a natural way to learn who I am and towards where my intuition leads me. Other than that outside experiences are very important too as interacting with my clients. It works like a mirror and goes beyond into a much more interesting direction, it is about giving and receiving in both ways, learning and improving the activity. It is about offering a transparent communication, making it easier to see possibilities of channels in the present moment , naturally opens many doors to the future.
The pieces I make symbolise the unity and the singularity of each person. I believe we are all unique because everybody is different, we are all different story combined with different mix of DNA genes. However what makes the unity is our complemental reciprocity in this constellation of people. The whole process of creating a brand englobes knowledge from the past to present resources and technical skills and goes into future products and customers. Not so far it means this is what I will be leaving behind of myself in this world. I am talking about future generations, same as when we study history from ancient civilisations and learn from that, knowledge is timeless.
Being conscious about global macro processes as an effect of micro punctual actions and decisions, both are essentially connected in both ways. This is what I believe is our power as a singular micro element in this macro cosmos, being aware of our choices or at least learning from that and being able to change. What we call a beautiful product should be something we look up from the final result and beyond, a healthy and transparent cycle that carries on clean beautiful energy to next generations.
My work is not sourced from fashion industry tendencies but on real life interaction with [my] surroundings, nature, books, art – meeting real people, collecting materials, improving techniques, understanding human behaviour and being drifted by intuition. A piece of clothing is a symbolic and physical protection for the body and soul.
Where are you spending your time?
I am based in France most of the year, working and doing pop up stores. I go to Portugal one or two times a year working on shoes, bags and clothes; I still have family in Portugal very close to the Spanish border. I absolutely love this region – a lot of inspiration [comes from] traditional food and ancient construction, rich in ocean, rocks and roses; it is rustic and romantic.
I go to Brazil to visit family and work; I’m grateful to get back to where I come from and be active exchanging experiences from other cultures, it gives [me] better vision and even more respect for my origins. It is a complementary marriage; Brazil and France as main bases, it is two opposite ways of living, those countries which experienced world war and young countries that had been colonised half a century ago. I have definitely learned a lot with French culture; it is a good balance to have Brazil and Portugal as background.
What is your approach to sustainability?
Sustainability for me is a state of mind of truly humble consciousness about our dependence on nature to be alive. The ability of transforming nature should be connected in a natural cycle which englobes responsible, healthy environment – cultural, economical, social and political aspects. Talking about sustainability today is basically a generation becoming aware of reeducating ourselves. The world is over polluted by image worship and random information, corruption and slavery, waste and production of trash. We’ve got to be smart enough to filter all this information, to be ourselves and get good knowledge.
Sustainability goes away beyond using organic fabrics, it is the consciousness of the entire process itself, from the initial concept to manufacturing, the procedure, quality of the materials, a healthy and fair relationship with people that are involved as well as with the customers. Sustainability is also about how personal life and work are constantly related, to be responsible for our actions and decisions, to keep it local as much as we can .
I never throw materials away as I’m constantly reusing them from past projects for details – lining, buttons, tags and art crafts. I upcycle old pieces that have been washed many times and still keep their good quality; those end up having an awesome organic fit. Each new collection is naturally composed of pieces from past collections and new creations that are based on ancient fabrics or old fabrics or material from past projects.
How does this work in practice, in your atelier?
Timelessness never gets old, it is about a new fresh intention composed by a mix of different cultures, it is about learning and reinventing. As a certain material grips my attention, it speaks to me from its properties while I figure out what piece it can possibly become, so actually every piece of cloth can be transformed and upcycled. Centralising patterns, splitting them in symmetry, the fabric tells the shape, the possibilities of details and how it is going to fit. It is about the potential of the material, the possibilities and limitations to transform it. Japan and India both inspire me to recognise the full worth of the fabric before transforming. My work is a mix of both orient and occident.
Drawing sewing patterns, cutting the models and sewing prototypes meanwhile one or two people are helping me with sewing. It is a complementary relationship because we learn together, from each other. We reinvent on transforming a supposed mistake turning into a new solution or detail, making piece by piece. It is pretty dynamic and healthy working on a small quantity of special, unique pieces in a creative and productive atmosphere.
My main channel to the customer is dealing direct with them [via] low key vernissages and pop up stores, which makes the connection with the client very fair and healthy, natural and real. I am planning to sell on my website but I am working on keeping it authentic and easy.
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