Our exclusive collaboration with French brand Sézane lands tomorrow, 10/21, and to learn exactly how it came together, we arranged a little tête-à-tête with both our head designer Somsack Sikhounmuong and Sézane designer Morgane Sézalory to ask them a few questions. Turns out the trick to a great collaboration isn’t just a shared fashion sense.
Why did you want to work together?
Morgane Sézalory: I’ve had a crush on Madewell for years. Somsack’s ideas and designs match my vision of fashion: clothes imagined for a woman, that make her feel great and have little surprising details.
Somsack Sikhounmuong: We just share an appreciation for so many of the same things.
What was your favorite part of the design process?
SS: I loved the first brainstorming meeting at Morgane’s studio in Paris. It’s always inspiring to see the whole ethos of a brand in its entirety, from the clothes to the mood of the workspace to the classic French butter cookies she served.
MS: Working together ensured that all our ideas were actually possible. We could take our time to pick the best fabrics and perfect the patterns.
Where did you find inspiration for this collaboration?
SS: Paris street life will always hold a special place in my design psyche. Classics like a logo-less leather bag or a structured car coat worn with a certain sexy tomboy attitude—that’s very French to me.
MS: I wanted to strike a balance between our two cities, Paris and New York. I imagined pieces for two women. First, a French woman trying to “fit” in New York—she wants to be chic, but cool and casual in that way Americans do so well. Then I thought about an American woman wanting to bring a Parisian touch to her wardrobe. The colors are quiet, the heels aren’t too high.
What’s the trick to a successful collaboration?
SS: Trust. And a shared instinct.
MS: Generosity, curiosity and an open mind and spirit. And a lot of respect for what your partner does.
What’s the best food for a snack break?
SS: I’m not a big snacker, but when I do, I really go for it—it’s a hot fudge sundae.
MS: Ice cream.
What music did you work to?
SS: Fleetwood Mac.
MS: Bob Dylan, Belle and Sebastian, Vampire Weekend and Cat Stevens.
Mood boards: Pinterest or actual board?
SS: Pinterest images printed, cut out and then pinned on an actual board.
MS: Both, but technology makes things so convenient. I take photos of anything that catches my eye. The world is almost too inspiring, and the Internet makes it even crazier.
What are your favorite pieces from the collaboration?
SS: The La Superbe Sweatshirt, because that piece kick-started everything. Our art director was wearing it one day, and right after telling her how cute she looked, I asked where it was from. The rest is history…
MS: The La Superbe Sweatshirt, of course, but the Silk Tee in Bow Print is a close second.
Photography by Angi Welsch and Brittany Ambridge.