So, this could start as a little thought experiment. How many stories of upcoming designers do you find (and sometimes not even read) per month? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? It could even go further up nearing collections months. Well, this designer story is quite different. As a matter of fact, Raquel Franco is not just a designer, and Body Editions, her brand, is not just a brand. This is the tale of a small idea that was first materialized as a joke and ended up being a massive design-gone-media project.
There are thousands of hundreds of new designers all over the world; the word designer has actually become the coolest and trendiest word to say. Moreover, after a few days of research, I knew Raquel Franco wasn’t a trained designer and that she is actually a stylist (a pretty much successful stylist). Internet also informs that, though born and raised in Spain, she studied at London College of Fashion and her bodysuits brand, Body Editions, is her latest project.
So, if the outcome of a few hours surfing dozens of websites was a complete profile of the designer, what is the story? At the door of her Haggerston studio, Raquel was waiting with a warm smile. It didn’t take long to settle down and, in a couple of chairs surrounded by samples and books, we started talking. After a coffee, the voice recorder went on and Body Editions stopped being just a comfy and beautiful bodysuits brand to become an overall media platform aiming at embracing and enhancing women and their bodies.
I was wondering, how did you go from stylist to designer?
It’s interesting because it has grown very organically. It’s something I started because I used to wear lots of bodysuits, but then I got extremely bored – and was not much choice in the actual market apart from Wolford to Alaia – so the idea was born in a very casual way. Getting more serious by the attention and demand growing into a project that would go along with my career as a stylist. Only recently I focused on taking the business to the next level launching in Net-a-porter as our first step in the fall 2014.
Now that you are focused on the brand, what is happening with your stylist alter ego?
Styling is becoming a creative outlet, still there. I create in a different way, depending on the client and their needs. I find it refreshing to step out of my brand, where my vision is very defined now. Also, my woman keeps expanding and gaining new amazing and inspiring qualities.
Does this translate into your designing process?
My designing process is quite freestyle: I can be inspired by a Godard film, by a landscape or by a woman and start drawing in my little notebook (I always carry it with me). I also have a very practical approach to this task, I very often find myself focusing on improving and perfecting this wardrobe piece that is the bodysuit. For instance, it makes me very uncomfortable when my shirt detaches from my trousers in my back. So I made a bodysuit shirt (a style that will be available at Net-a-porter soon).
Do your styling projects nurture your design projects or is it the other way around? Or is it just another side of your creative being?
I think my styling nurtures a little bit the brand. And I think it will contribute much more from now on. In the near future, the collections are gonna be more creative, they will change every six months and each of them will be inspired by a woman. We will have that and then we will have the classic pieces we’ve been making for a few years now.
So, what is Body Editions?
Body Editions is a brand that wants to bring back the bodysuit as a staple piece in every woman’s wardrobe. The idea is to enhance the silhouette and allow a fine feeling into the skin; a feeling that is, at the same time, empowering and gentle.The concept relies on each woman embracing to be herself.
How do you manage to do so, to embrace women?
It is all based on a very important feature, which is the hour-glass shape. Our hour-glass seams create an optical illusion that underlines and enhances the waist.
The body is 'the' 1980s-1990s garment. Keeping in mind that fashion is cyclical and that we are now in a 1980s-1990s spree, how do you think the end of this cycle will affect Body Editions?
I don’t think bodies are a fad because there is a strong type of woman that ranges from teens to 70 year-old that still wear bodysuits nowadays. You have Alaïa for instance, who does amazing bodysuits and incredible pret a porter collections, and he's been there since the 1980s. I think a brand that specializes in bodysuits has a wide portal for development, into the concept of one piece and would be developed soon... Body Editions is about the feel, about the cut, how you feel and live in it.
I am still surprised by the seamless knitted body. How did you achieve all the technical knowledge needed in order to have a brand?
I’ve been touching clothes all through my styling career and paying attention to every detail, as fabric qualities and finishings. I had a very focused vision on how I wanted the bodysuits to be. In the case of the seamless body, I was lucky to meet this amazing manufacturer, Josep, who has the most exquisite taste and knowledge and understood exactly the quality we were expecting for Body Editions. He produced our first sample, which was perfect, and ever since it's been one of our best sellers.
How would you like to collaborate with other brands or people?
Collaborations are exciting! I look forward to doing so in the near future.
What are you expecting for the brand?
I'd like it to be a contemporary modern brand. A brand that offers timeless, chic garments made with good fabrics; something that fits almost like a second skin as a one piece to live in. We have a new feature within the brand which has just been launched a couple of weeks ago: Body Diaries. It features different women, each wearing a bodysuit and with a short Q&A created by Penny Martin.
That is interesting because the bodysuit is fairly intimate as a garment. So it is very appealing to read how other women live their bodysuits. But why did you decide to include this editorial aspect to your brand?
I wanted to create and inspiring approach to the bodysuit. With my editorial background I thought that exhibiting inspiring modern women wearing Body Editions in their own way and portrayed in different environments, would inspire other women to try them, to live them. A lot of women love both the bodysuit as a garment and the idea of wearing it; but some feel intimidated by it due to their body consciousness. I had to persuade a few clients to try it on and, at the end, they all loved it.