For the past two seasons, the dreamiest and creamiest of Berlin’s fashion crop has shaped our understanding of how fashion shows can truly be experimental and boundary pushing. She is Margot Charbonnier, the one-woman strong army behind the Berlin-based brand Sample-CM. If it’s her hijab-come-baseball cap, harness-into-a-skirt, or models dressing each other down the runway, Charbonnier has demonstrated that she can make one almighty splash in fashion’s whirlpool. Her current conceptual collection was presented as a live installation piece titled Grand Bassin, first opening its doors at Berlin’s me. Collectors Room. Complete with Velcro straps and instructions that welcome the wearer to “experience the clothing as a full bodily practice,” she’s definitely the label we should be listening to. So, strap yourself in and buckle up tight because Sample-CM will take you on the ride of your life.
What is behind the thinking for the name Sample-CM?
I use the name Sample-CM because I’ve always considered fashion only as part of a complete project. I also involve all the disciplines, such as performances and installations, but also graphic design and web design. Everything should work as a whole project; the collection is only part of it. So it refers to this idea – and C.M. are my initials.
How many live installations have you had?
This is my first one. I have had a much more experimental approach to fashion for a couple of years now, and this is only my second collection with a much more ready-to-wear perspective. I have only had one show before, but it wasn’t a performance and was more traditional. This was the first opportunity I had to try something different.
You are based in Berlin, does that influence your fashion?
I have lived in London and Paris, and they both have very strong histories of fashion. This means that there are a lot of expectations of what a young, female French designer should do and be. I feel like in Berlin there is a more of an experimental approach, and the disciplinary approach is much more a part of the culture of the city. I also felt that people in Berlin are more open-minded and have an honest curiosity for young designers. I am really happy to be based here.
There are talks that Berlin is becoming the new fashion capital, do you agree?
There is an opportunity for every creative aspect in Berlin because of the history of the city, it gives this aspect of experimentation with really fresh perspectives on creation.
You studied Sociology in addition to Fashion. Do you see a relationship between both disciplines?
Yes, I have studied Sociology and it really shaped my ideas on fashion. I always considered fashion as any other design desipiences, which are related to their use: what you do with the garment, how you interact with it, the way to wear it. So I am always interested in these parallels in my work. Each project is about a specific process for a garment.
Do you find fashion limiting sometimes? Perhaps with performance you might be able to express yourself more fully?
I would say that fashion is more challenging. The idea behind this collection was a really formal frame, which is a staple for fashion week. This helped me to balance my more experimental perspective, so it’s more of a challenge than a limitation.
Your pieces contain instructions. What instructions do you live by?
I find the daily life of gesture really beautiful. I am interested in these small details, like the way you put a garment on. I definitely do not follow instructions, but I find them beautiful.
Can you talk about you work with kinesiotape straps?
They are always considered as sport equipment, something that you use to change a garment, adjust it and enforce it. For this collection we used kinesiotape straps to belt the garments together. For the first season we used adhesive straps, which we put directly on the body and clothes, and for this season we also incorporated Velcro.
What were your New Year’s resolutions?
To keep on going. Also, to find a balance between an experimental approach with a ready-to-wear perspective. I find this stimulating.
And have you broken any resolutions yet?
Not yet!