Exclusive: Paul & Joe’s Sophie Mechaly talks Paris, prints and her new Abu Dhabi store
"Prints give me a lot of emotion"
othing quite represents Parisian chic in the Capital than a Paul & Joe store opening. The ready-to-wear brand, which launched in Paris 15 years ago, now has over 30 stores worldwide, which cater to womenswear, menswear, a children's line and a beauty and cosmetics range, and they show no signs of slowing down. To celebrate the newly opened boutique in Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall the brand held an exclusive dinner and Buro 24/7 Middle East joined Sophie Mechaly, Paul & Joe's Creative Director...
Congratulations on the opening of your new store! What makes the growth from from Dubai into Abu Dhabi exciting?
The quality of the new Paul & Joe store makes you feel like you're in Paris! Of course it has it's own touch and that makes it more personal for the region. Before the store opening, I didn't know Abu Dhabi. It's my third time to Dubai, so thanks to the new store it gives me an opportunity to visit the city.
Tell us why you think Paul & Joe works so well in the Middle East?
I think because it's very feminine. We use lots of colour and freshness and it has a definite masculine and feminine aesthetic. I also think because of the lengths, we have a lot of floor-length pieces and long-sleeve pieces plus people like the chicness and elegance of Paul & Joe.
Vintage and the city of Paris is a great inspiration in your designs. Do you ever take inspiration from such a modern city like Dubai?
Yes of course. Inspiration comes from everywhere and that is also why I think people like the brand because although it's vintage inspired it is also created with a lot of modernity.
What's a day in the life of a fashion designer like?
Fashion designer, mother, wife, sister and daughter...so many things. I live in Paris, I wake up at 7am, I go to the office for 9am and the day is non-stop. Every day it's important for me to exercise, to see my parents, my friends and I'm very close to my children and at the end of the day, I sleep very well. I love it and I really do have a very nice life.
Paul & Joe is named after your two sons, do they inspire you in your designs?
Yes, of course. I have always loved babies and children's wear. There's nothing better than a little chic coat and I have lots of it in my kids collection. When I was a little girl my dad used to dress me very 'Bon Chic, Bon Genre', I was always in dresses and the way I raised my kids was like that too. They have always been an inspiration. Now they're grown up and are 20- and 24-years-old. They always give me advice and tell me what they like, especially for men because that's where the brand started so I like to get their opinion.
Who is the Paul & Joe customer and who do you love to see wearing it?
I don't think there is a specific Paul & Joe customer. It's for everyone. I design for myself first and create clothes that I like and that I would wear and I wear my designs alot. I am the first to criticise myself because I try everything on.
You've done everything from clothes, homewares, cosmetics and accessories, what's next for the house of Paul & Joe?
The biggest plan at the moment is Abu Dhabi and the opening of the new beautiful boutique. My son is also launching his own unisex brand this Autumn/Winter 2016, which will be showing in January and, of course, I can't wait. Our cosmetics range is doing really well too, so I want to keep doing that.
Paul & Joe is recognised for its prints, where does the original print inspiration come from and what can we expect next? Maybe a camel?
My family was in the fashion business too and my mum has always been very chic and very into colour. She would wear a fuchsia sweater with matching lipstick. My father was always more into the management, however my mother used to be the designer at my parent's company. We always used to go together to the flea markets and visit all the print mills in Italy. I was brought up around print, colour and pattern so it comes very naturally to me. Prints give me alot of emotion. When I see a print and I love it, I just have to work with it. I visit archives alot, some that are almost 100 years old in Italy. I'll spend two days there. I love to experiment and play with it all, it's like cooking.
What do you love most about visiting the UAE?
It's constantly changing. I hadn't travelled to the UAE for 5 years and there is always a new mall, new stores, a new hotel... it's always developing and growing. This afternoon I'm going sightseeing.
THE BURJ KHALIFA IS LIKE THE EIFFEL TOWER OF DUBAI AND I MUST SEE IT.
Paul & Joe is located in Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi and is also available at www.Boutique1.com