More than 30 years, I dedicated myself to conceptual art and design. Inspired by creative people when working as a model in the fashion industry, I found my calling as an artist and designer at an early age. Driven by my visions, my actions extended from the fashion sector up to exhibited art projects.
Powered by my pioneering spirit, I am establishing an exceptional brand concept, LANOUVE. As an advocate for individualism and authenticity, I aim to encourage open-minded people to live their authenticity self-confidently in the society. For this reason, I design LANOUVE bags with an open source to personal customization and interpretation.
Art reflects social changes, calls for an exploration of reality and is a visual expression of the human individual in all its manifestations. Through close collaborations with well-known international artists, LANOUVE signifies cross-cultural exchange to achieve a non-verbal level of understanding reflected by the artist editions. LANOUVE is championing for bags as new dynamic art mediums in the public dialogue.
Everything is in constant movement, in every moment – that is life. My personal life has been challenging me with highs and lows since I can remember. Every new situation required courage and strength of will. Every mastered challenge brought me closer to my goal and without the courage to change, I would not have become the woman I am today.
Our readers would love to get to know you more Nicole. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
DESIGN. NEW. ART.
WHEN ART MEETS DESIGN
Striving against fast moving fashion trends, LANOUVE unifies minimalistic design and art to create timeless bags as companions through life corresponding to the spirit of the age. LANOUVE bags are designed with multi-variable elements to initiate personal customization and interpretation.
Through the integration of art, each bag becomes a unique portable art object. Collaborations with international artists and the design of limited art editions and unique pieces make these art bags into collectors‘ pieces with great upside potential.
The art studio of LANOUVE directly adjoins the loft-showroom. All requirements for manual silk-screen printings, resin castings, painting, weaving techniques and experimental „mixed media“ methods comply in the studio. There is no limit to the creative research and development of new techniques. Under the creative direction of Nicole Mermon, all creative and innovative visions of the team are turned into action here.
A constant part of the artistic concept of the label is the confrontation and reflection of social issues that call for a more conscious approach to social responsibility.
Bound in honour, LANOUVE is an ethically operating business. Devoid of societal pressures, the brand takes a stand for social justice regarding fair working conditions throughout the production chain.
Nicole, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Fashion Label?
I have been working as a freelance artist for more than 30 years in a wide variety of fields. The spectrum of my works includes paintings and sculptures as well as installations and my specially developed technique „Metal Net Paintings“. One of the most special events in my artistic career was a visit to a large township near Johannesburg, South Africa. The whole day I photographed the most authentic people I had ever seen. Despite many warnings that as a white woman it was dangerous to go to such a place, I wanted to use this unique opportunity to shoot a portrait series. The initial restraint and scepticism of the people switched quickly to curiosity and joy. Each face tells its own story without words. This was one of the most emotional moments in my life, and I was impressed by the authenticity and honesty of the people there.
In retrospect, my unique encounter with those people has inspired me for my biggest and most exciting project so far - the foundation of my own art brand LANOUVE. It is my life challenge, which is constantly developing further. I love the exchange with other artists and creative minds and appreciate it very much that art connects interculturally. My goal is to create a cosmopolitan artist collective with LANOUVE, offering artists a new art medium for their artistic interpretations. Wearable art is timeless and sustainable and counteracts the fast-paced trends of the fashion industry and initiates a more conscious approach to consumption.
I wanted to develop a product that embodies the fusion of art and design, thus timeless and valuable. The idea of making art wearable and integrating it into everyday life did not let me go. As I have always been a bag lover myself, I realized that a bag could be the perfect object for my purpose. I was designing quite a while until I finally met my expectations and needs.
Through interchangeable bag elements, the appearance of the bags can be adjusted according to your mood and occasion. Whether a business event or leisure time, with the appropriate bag element, the bag becomes an all-round companion. Only a few women make an effort to fit their bag daily to their outfit, so there is usually only one bag for daily use. The choice mostly tends towards medium-sized bags, designed in timeless colors – bags that fit well with everything. For this reason, I chose timeless basic colors for the basic bags. Due to the interchangeable bag elements, the bags can either get a very colorful or understated look. Whether text graphics, structures, applications or material collages – art knows no boundaries.
Who is your inspiration in life Nicole? How do you keep inspired?
Well, I find inspiration in the most ordinary things. When I walk through the streets, I keep my eyes open for graphic elements, exceptional shapes, street art and inspiring people. I love to just walk around and observe my surrounding, let my imagination flow and free my mind. Usually, I take notes and make some rough sketches of my thoughts and ideas that come up. I think it is really important to capture these spontaneous ideas and thoughts to work them out later.
Another source of inspiration for me are social networks, such as Pinterest and Instagram, where I can browse through the works of other artists and designers, illustrators and all kinds of creative heads. Andy Warhol, Basquiat or Banksy – to name a few of my favourite artists - inspire the artist in me. On the other hand, I pursue the creations of amazing designers like Rei Kawakubo, Iris van Herpen, Rick Owens or Yohji Yamamoto. They are all pioneering spirits with unconventional approaches.
We all make mistakes Nicole; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Fashion Label; you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
As far as I can remember, I haven’t had any troubles with my colleagues. Quite the contrary, I have always experienced collaborations being very inspirational and beneficial for both sides.
Of course, I went through difficult situations as a fashion label, but I think without making mistakes there is no progress.
Nicole, when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Fashion Label, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
I see my clients as an important part of my progress as a fashion label. I try my best to sustain a personal exchange with my clients and retail partners regularly. It is really important for me to know, what my clients expect and what their needs and concerns are. The feedback will then be incorporated in the future developments.
Please tell us, Nicole, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Fashion Label?
Thinking strategically is our daily business, but in the very beginning, when I founded the brand, I spend a lot of time developing a strategic masterplan. On the one hand, I was working on the product requirements and the development of a sales concept, where the aspects of art and design are equally considered. On the other hand, I wanted to link the stationary trade with the advantages of e-commerce to achieve a seamless shopping experience for my customers.
Normally fashion is driven by seasonal collections. My bag collection is not changing seasonally but growing steadily. The range of interchangeable elements for the bags changes throughout the year. Focusing on art and design, I offer a lot of different limited art editions and unique pieces of variables. It is a playful concept to encourage customers to create individual styles and authentic fashion statements.
Nicole, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Most people say that my infectious enthusiasm about new ideas and products is one of my main talents. When I speak to an artist to discuss a collaboration, I need to persuade him/her of the bag as a new medium for art. I love what I do, and I think I transfer my passion to my counterpart. I always try to listen carefully and respond to uncertainty with new perspectives and a common vision.
Nicole, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Fashion Label. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share with everyone. What is it and why?
The proudest moment I had was the launch event of LANOUVE, where only special guests and professionals were invited. This was the first big feedback moment for us, and we were overwhelmed with joy by the compliments and positive response. Our first limited art edition sold out, and the whole team wept for joy as it was really hard work to start this business.
Nicole, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
Well, most of the time I’m doing creative stuff, but a huge challenge for me was the aspect of wearable art because not all artistic techniques are suitable and durable enough for functional objects. The research and development of different materials and techniques are the most exciting yet difficult parts of my work.
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Fashion Label?*
The most important advice are probably to stay authentic, to believe in yourself and never lose the passion that drives you. You also need to have perseverance in difficult times and learn from mistakes. Never be afraid to create your road to success.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state what type of collaboration you are looking for?
Yes, I’m always open-minded for collabs. In fact, I am looking for any collaboration with synergy effects for both sides. Especially artists, influencers, retailers and fashion talents around the world.
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