Belgian brand La Fille d’O is an unicum when it comes to lingerie. Unlike many others in its category, they’re a manifesto on the female body in all its forms and shapes. They’re avant-garde, bold, rebellious, and speak to a generation of women that’s tired of the usual media language towards them. Like her brand, designer Murielle Victorine Scherre is equally peculiar. She uses the human body as her main source of inspiration and translates it into a philosophy on lingerie that is simple; it’s about the beauty of the flesh you show, not the amount of luxurious fabric you use to cover it up. She’s also somewhat of a preacher, inspiring us to look at our bodies differently and accept them for how they are, folds and all.
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Why did you choose lingerie?
When I launched La Fille d’O fourteen years ago I was very intrigued by imagery, particularly by the way women were being depicted in media. It’s so narrow-minded. We get the image of a skinny 16-year-old being repeated over and over again, radiating an ideal of what beauty is supposed to be. Like that little niche is representative for all of us. I think it’s just a waste of capacity. Women gained so much freedom in Europe, yet they don’t always chose to use all of it. As making lingerie also means working with sexuality, aesthetic ideals, exposure and confidence I decided I wanted La Fille d’O to be a countermovement to society’s standards.
You want La Fille d’O to represent all women?
Yes. What I love about us is that we work with so many different faces; no restrictions in age, nor shape. It’s what makes us strong. We’re here for people with breasts up to people needing prosthesis bras. In the end it’s your own choice whether or not you feel comfortable in our product. What we want is that our clients discover their own divinity. What connects everyone who walks in here is curiosity – women who tend to look a little further than the usual. It takes a little effort to discover we exist, so I’d say we’re like a reward for curious women (laughs).
How do you make your designs fit every-body?
I’m not great at drawing, but I have a good brain and a body of my own. Most of the time I’m in my car messing around with my sweater, thinking about lines and fabrics. To me, clothing to a body is what graphic design is to a text. When you layout a magazine, the shape and punctuation marks define how people will look at your text. The same goes for clothing, and especially lingerie. Every detail, every colour or seam you add works as a stopping point to the human eye. I’m a real nerd when it comes to this. When I see brands using jungle prints and pearls on their lingerie, I don’t get it. The human body alone is already so much to look at. I only use the basic rudimental ingredients and pick out the high-quality products. The pure and the essential only, so I can show off the female body the best way possible. When women come in here, throw off their rubbish and try on one of our see-through bodies, it’s almost endearing to see. They become so beautiful.
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Are women ashamed when they fit lingerie?
Oh, yes. Partly because we have no curtains in our fitting room, only an open space with a back wall made entirely out of glass, looking out on the terrace. Customers fit across and in between each other, and they get a sort of timidity about them that generates solidarity and kindness. In daily life we’re surrounded by images of women, but people forget the images we get are filtered, online and offline, as people chose how they show themselves and when. The pure simplicity of naked bodies or how women just are gets lost. Our fitting room gives you the opportunity to see a 60-year-old woman in the nude alongside her daughter, or a woman who just gave birth and is dealing with the perks of breast feeding. With zero filtering.
Is that the goal? Teaching women how to be naked again?
I don’t believe women are afraid to be naked. The problem is that the nudity that is being presented to us is made out of glass. It’s no longer human(e). When I was 20 years old, foundation was only used by women in their 40’s. These days, girls are covered in it. We’re so disassociated from our own beauty that everything about it has to go. When I take a selfie, there’s an automated filter on my phone, so I have to get rid of it before I can take a normal photo, like my phone is telling me I’m not pretty enough to just be in the picture. That’s why I like analogue cameras, they don’t tell you anything.
Does that influence you as well?
I guess so. A while ago, for example, I realised I never saw myself having pubic hair. I also realised I have a 4 year-old daughter that has never seen pubic hair on her mother’s body, so I figured she might be shocked when hers starts growing. I decided to make a stop to my need to shave and start a photo diary of how my pubic hair would grow. I have to admit it felt very stressing the first couple of days. I felt shabby, felt the stigma of being the kind of woman that doesn’t shave. Now I’m so happy and proud of my pubic hair. It’s not disgusting, it’s only our perception. I can really recommend it (laughs).
“Our body is so fragile, yet people are very arrogant about it. We treat our bodies like bonsai trees, trimming them perfectly to fit our gardens.”
How did you get to this point? This perspective?
My upbringing and a natural aptitude. My dad is a fireman and my mother is a nurse. All their lives they’ve been confronted with what can go wrong body-wise. Someone who jumped under a train or just had brain surgery, those were the things we talked about at the dinner table, and it gave me a very good sense of how important health actually is. Our body is so fragile, yet people are very arrogant about it. We treat our bodies like bonsai trees, trimming them perfectly to fit our gardens.
Especially when it comes to pubic hair.
Exactly. We take away what’s natural, or hide it. It’s like hair is considered both weeds and gorgeous flowers depending on where it’s growing. Society once decided that hair on our heads and eyebrows is fantastic, but that we should remove the remaining as it doesn’t fit our standards.
You have a daughter. You think there’s a new generation of women in the making?
History is a story of reaction and counter-reaction. I was raised the “sois belle et taît-toi” kind of way, raised to be polite and nice to everyone even though I didn’t agree. Having a daughter, I realised how enjoyable it can be to just say ‘no’, to claim that ‘no’ when you don’t agree, rather than letting everyone live on your back. I feel young women today are much more open and mouthier than I was when I had their age. I think it’s because their mothers have already swum through different waters then mine had. When men want the dishes to be done, these girls will hand them the sponge to do it. They have a stronger spine, and it’s really nice to see how women are getting stronger. I’m so looking forward to all of your middle fingers (smiles).
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