Behind the scenes: Mahlia Kent
– Posted by Sara
The famous French tweed house, Mahlia Kent, has played an important part in defining our aesthetic for several years now. Mahlia is an institution in the fashion world; a large part of its work lies in developing fabric exclusively for Chanel, and the rest of the business serves every luxury house imaginable, most famously the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Balmain.
For Madderson, Mahlia adds the ultimate element of luxury, opulence, colour and magic to our collections. It adorns our jackets and dresses season after season. It is no wonder that our most popular styles, the Naomi, Camilla and Adeline, all feature beautiful Mahlia Kent trims. After years of religiously meeting Mahlia at textile fairs, it was time to make the pilgrimage to Paris to surround myself with their latest collection and to see where the magic happens.
Villa Labrouste houses around 50 employees who manage the process from design and development through to sales and quality control. The ground floor, a large, sunny studio, is an Aladdin’s cave of Mahlia’s special yarns, sourced from every corner of the globe.
Looking at pink bouclés and silken metallics, I felt like a child in a candy store and wished my 3 year old daughter was with me to enjoy the scene.
For SS17 we already have a clear vision of where we want to take the collection, but Mahlia is always a critical input in our design process. Some fabrics we fall in head over heels in love with and take them as they are, but much of the fun in the creative process comes from cherry-picking designs, colours, and individual yarns and warps and customising them to our own palette and needs. Most of Mahlia’s clients operate in this way.
This season, we and the Mahlia team seem to be very much in sync from a thematic and colour perspective, and seeing their swatches this week has brought our SS17 development forward with a giant leap. Making the transition from Pinterest board to tangibly experiencing the fabrics that will underpin a collection is a goose-bump moment each season.
After our stay chez Mahlia, it felt only right to escape the brutal rain with lunch at Ralph’s, a favourite spot of ours, followed by afternoon tea at Le Meurice. After all, I don’t go to Paris to diet.
Sara Madderson is founder and creative director of Madderson London. She loves history, literature, art and a good bottle of claret.