Gutsy, bold and daring; fitting words to describe the work of French born designer Lorette Colé Duprat who shares how her work allows her to push and challenge norms. Raised in Paris where she is currently based, Lorette’s work draws upon contrasts in her upbringing, elements in her environment and notions of gender fluidity which are all echo through her work. Debuting in 2019, Lorette has collaborated with the likes of Arca and has already found her place within the competitive market. By manipulating metals and plastics to compliment the human form, she seamlessly blends industrial grunge with a sense of sexual liberation to produce functional works of art which are as striking as they are unique.
In order to understand more about what you do, I’d like to get to know the designer first. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your journey as a designer?
I am a 28-year-old French woman, born and raised in Paris where I am currently based. I studied Design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. My family is from the south of France. My mother’s side is from the Southwest (the Landes and Basque country) and from my father’s side is from Southeast (Marseille and the surrounding areas). I think my origins say a lot about who I am today; it explains the contrast in my work, my ideas and my personality. Despite growing up in the city, I spent a lot of time with nature; going to the seaside, the forest and the mountains, it has broadened my perception of things. My dad taught my family and I how to ride motorbikes and my mum taught us how to interact with people in society (she is also one of the best skiers I know). A mantra of my parents was ‘you can do it’. They are from very different backgrounds which has been very beneficial to me. It has shown me how to fit in everywhere, how to adapt, how to approach everything with an open mind and curiosity and how to be grateful.
In the early years of my childhood, I was very girly and at the age of 6, I started acting very typically tom boyish. One day I decided I didn’t want to wear skirts or dresses anymore, just trousers. I channelled the traditional and stereotypical idea of masculinity during my childhood. Even when I was supposedly dressed like a girl, I could sense my masculinity inside. I think I came back in touch with femininity around my teenage years. Till this day, fluid notions of masculinity and femininity float around my head which drives a lot my work.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?
I find inspiration from everything in my environment; influenced by people, their energy, their bodies, their backgrounds and their stories, but also by the physical environment. Living in Paris is a constant source of inspiration, the urbanism, the neighbourhoods, and the cultures you can meet. I love going to hardware stores. Everywhere I go, I need to find the local hardware stores because they differ depending on where they are located. In the countryside for example, they often reflect the agricultural industry in the area, meaning you can find the coolest machines or tools that you would never find in cities. The more specialised the shops are, the better they are. These shops have a certain authenticity, with objects that do exactly what they say on the tin. The vendors are often surprised and intrigued to see me enter their shops.  I really enjoy my time with them because they explain everything with such passion, you end up learning a lot from them.
The functionality of these very practical objects means that, most of the time, they have amazing shapes. At university we focused a lot on the Bauhaus philosophy form follows function, I guess it stuck in my mind. 
Your work is bold, daring and adventurous; how does your work defy set norms within the fashion industry?
Fashion allows us to push and challenge norms, even though it may be a constant battle. In a way, people want newness but don’t. So, I guess it is about pugnacity, never backing down on ideals. I wouldn’t dare say my work defies anything, I believe it creates news and sparks debate. Some of my accessories can be considered hybrids of different types of jewellery, lacking boxes and words to qualify them. Modules… Body accessories? Generic words. In a way, it is about pushing boundaries, being surprising and innovating.
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Starting out, did you find it difficult finding a market and customer base or did you find that there was space and a desire for something new?
I’ve just started selling my pieces and the responses are already very encouraging. We sold out just 3 weeks after opening our pre-order e-shop and we will soon be stocking with a big online retailer. I took a lot of time before making my pieces widely available on the market. I wanted to focus on the image, and I wanted to be precise with how I communicate this to people. But in life, nothing is so simple, and every beginning is difficult. The market is competitive, though I do believe there is room for new things.
I think consumers are becoming more clued up, and even if the giant luxury brands continue to dominate the market, clients are understanding the importance of supporting young designers and smaller brands; the balance is essential.
Your work explores sexuality and sensuality but with a grunge and industrial edge, how do you try to combine the two concepts?
My entire work and even my personality, is based on duality, contrast and juxtaposition (which is weird because I am not a Gemini) so I wouldn’t say I intentionally try to combine industrialism and sensuality, the hard and the soft, it just comes to me. When it is done, it must appear to me to have the perfect balance.
Your work often sculpts the body, do you use your work to compliment or accentuate features of the human body? How do you do so?
The human body is an endless source of inspiration. I love to play with it and highlight shapes and curves. I make sure my work ends up exposing sections of the body one way or another. A lot of it is about working with the tension of the material and the skin. In the process, you must also find the right parts for the articulations so that the pieces allow for flexibility of the body. I want to make sure the pieces are realistic in a way that people can wear them in real ordinary situations.
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Your choice of fabrics is often metallic or plastic, is there a practical or artistic reason behind this or is it a personal choice?
I enjoy the challenge behind using these materials rather than their practicality given that these materials are not usually intended to be used close to the skin. The way I incorporate metal and plastic into my designs goes perfectly with fabric! What I love about these durable materials is also a sense of neutrality. I treat them with tender care, when I smooth and polish them, it creates reflection and magnifying effects, that fascinates me.
Would you say that your designs are gender neutral? How do your designs embrace gender neutrality?
I never speak about gender because it seems so obvious to me that all my work is about gender neutrality so directly stating it would be unnecessary. I make designs for humans, for bodies, for fun and in doing so, I hope to bring confidence to everybody. I am always trying pieces on, so some people may say they are geared towards women but that is simply untrue. I do it in order to better understand how the pieces work but I always style pieces on other body types to see how they fit. Anybody can wear anything so long as they feel good in it. I am so lucky to have a community which understands that.
You started work as a jewellery and accessory designer in 2019. With androgyny becoming more mainstream, have you seen a shift in interest and perception towards your work since then or have attitudes remained the same?
I would not say I saw a shift; from the beginning I showcased my pieces on all types of people and my message was clear. I can say however, that times are changing fast, people are becoming more open minded. I feel that cis straight men are more daring with their wardrobe, they are less concerned about what others may say and conversely, they judge less. That is a positive sign for the future. I want to remain optimistic; I want to believe that next generations will be always better than past ones.
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Although you identify as a jewellery and accessory designer, your pieces often can be worn as clothing. How do you define the boundary between accessories, jewellery and clothing?
Good question! For me, the terms accessories and jewellery are just convenient boxes I can use to group my work together. I would love for there to be more words I could use to define designs. I make hybrid designs with no real boundaries between clothing and accessories so people can use them either way and just play and have fun with their style. When it comes down to it, having fun with your creative flair is what matters the most.
In the past you have collaborated with different artists from a range of different industries including the beautiful and incredibly talented Arca; how do you see your pieces fitting alongside her experimental and revolutionary music?
Arca pushes boundaries, explores new creative dimensions and experiments with and blends new concepts which is, in a way, what I am trying to do: trying to avoid boxes, to explore, to innovate and to provoke emotions.
How would you describe what you do in three words?
Modular- Hard/Soft- Carnal.
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