You know when you get an idea in your head that leads to greater things? I met designer Marie- Louise Mogensen because I was obsessed with buying overalls that her collection BaseRange made and they were sold out everywhere. Desperate to own this dream piece of clothing I contacted the company on their website hoping they had one to sell me. Fast forward to now- through this one idea we have become friends and I have also worked on a shoot for her in London. Although I have never met her in person except through Skype, we have had the best conversations.
The thing that I love about this brand is the simplicity behind their designs. I think it’s a lot harder sometimes to design something good with simplicity in mind versus designing a garment with an array of details and embellishments. Known for their undergarments, they have recently come out with a much bigger collection of clothing, all basic staples made well for the modern girl.
We chatted with Marie-Louise about her burgeoning clothing line which she co-designs with her business partner Blandine Legait.
Photos courtesy of BaseRange
You traveled a bit and did some missionary work abroad in your younger days. Can you chat about this experience with us?
It was just after finishing a long period of school and before I went to art school. In school you are so much in your head and I wanted to work, and be more hands on.After high school I moved to Hong Kong where I worked at an orphanage for a year, and then for a short period of time I worked in the same field in Mainland China. It was really difficult as a foreigner to get a job in an orphanage in Mainland China as they are very closed about the problems that they had in their establishments. They really didn’t want any foreigners working there. At that time all kids who entered their orphanage died and this was common in China. However, in Hong Kong it was very different compared to the rest of the country. The orphanage I worked in their was a home for for disabled kids and babies left on the street or for very young mothers. The place was full of love and very spiritual too.
After you came back from China you went to art school. What were your art practices like during that time?
I was drawing a lot and taking pictures too. It was a lot of just trying different things and methods. Art school was mostly an experimental time for me.
You and Blandine own the company together and manage to live in different cities (Blandine in France, and Marie- Louise in Copenhagen) and manage to run a bright business together. Can you share with us your secret on keeping a successful business while working in different cities?
Respecting one another.
We talk and we write to each other a lot. When we need to focus then we have smaller or longer periods of quietness.
Does living in different cities inspire new ideas culturally?
Definitely. It’s our outlook for our work. I’m not sure we are consciously aware of it but it works for us. I think Blandine and I relate personality wise anyways so really it doesn’t matter where we live.
You produce a lot of your products in Turkey. Can you talk about this decision and why it’s integral to the quality of your clothing?
In Turkey they don’t use too many pesticides and chemicals to grow their agriculture because the soil is rich. Therefore its a good to work with yarns from Turkey. Its really hard to work with 100% sustainable products. What does it mean anyways? There is so many layers in the aspect of the production process and in marketing too. But you can be more responsible in the production of the garments by sourcing out the best way possible to make your product. You could find good factories that you trust, are interested in, and also source out ways that minimize the pollution that production brings. We are working with a factory in Odemis. In this region the ground is incredibly rich that they grow potatoes 3 -4 times a year. The factory is small and family run but they have a great knowledge of how to work with natural fibers and dye too. Half of our collection is often made of raw fabrics or naturally colored. We often don’t use dyes or chemicals to make it more white or treatments to make them softer.
You choose to make your own rules some what…almost breaking the rules of the norm…You choose to keep your line small, and create your own language within the collection. Can you talk about these decisions?
I don’t think either Blandine and I could do it differently then how we are running things now. Work also kind of organically grows for us, and we also have other people in the mix that contribute to taking on the work load. We did however make our own work so we could make our own rules. We both have small kids. As much as we like to grow our business we also have to be mindful of our families whom we also want to spend time with.We really do not believe in one way of doing things and we all have our own personal approach. Trying to break the rules is hard because we still need to be part of the system of production in many ways. But we are definitely trying to be passionate and meaningful about how we approach things generally.
You are exploring a lot of things with your brand right now which I think is wonderful because it keeps it fresh and evolving all the time. Right now you are making a small collection for ‘Dance’ can you talk to me about this project?
We are doing a small collection with references to dance/trance from the sufi poets in Islamic culture. We are inspired by the imagery. The images we are referring to with this collection is one hand pointing to the sky which translates as ‘taking’ and one hand pointing to the ground which translates as ‘giving’. One of my friends Michael Thorsby did some drawing of hands, and we have printed them as large prints on some clothes. We are still trying to work and find out how this will be used. We are trying to work in the dance/ trance collection in a way where it can be seasonal part of our collection.
How we met is quite an interesting story and one that I truly value. I wanted to buy one of the overalls that BaseRange created and it lead to me working with you on a lookbook and also gave us a reason to get to know each other online. You and I meeting has lead to the manifestation(almost a domino effect) of ideas and other projects. Do you feel it’s important to always be open to new ideas?
Me too! And yes I think it’s important to be open and interested as much as you can or when it feels right for you. At the moment I only feel like staying at home with the kids making dinner, and watching movies. I guess with the internet its easy to get information daily no matter where you are in the world. We can still function and navigate thru the internet using our senses, aesthetic, and words etc. etc.
What stimulates your creativity?
How many cups of coffees do you drink a day?
How has motherhood changed your life?
It has changed everything for me. I still am trying to figure out the ways it has transformed me as I’m in the middle of it all. Motherhood has given me a deeper understanding of true love that I never knew before.
What was the last song you listened to?
Today was a good day. Period.