Kilometre.Paris is a luxury brand that combines flavours, destinations, literature, sound and music to create a community of travellers for whom beauty has not limits or frontiers. The story of Alexandra Senes, founder of the brand, is a Wow story! She is journalist. Was editor-in-chief of Jalouse and Harper’s Bazaar France. She had a radio show hosted in Tokyo and sponsored by Hermès, and a TV show in France that was the analogue of the famous Project Runway in USA. She is also the author of the book Le Paris du Tout Paris on 100 parisiens and their adresses. We could not wait to meet her! So excited about her fashion story…
I never take plastic bags in shops since years. I always stop my shower and faucet when I wash my teeth. I always take tap water. The worst disease in this planet are these small bottles of Evian. In India, I would drink tea and worst case scenario would need to buy a mineral water because I have no choice.
As she says, she is a Céline meets Rabih Kayrouz person with Patagonia shoes. And if she wears a vintage bleu de travail, she would need YSL high heels. It is always a mix of ethic meets chic and expensive brands – she says.
She tells us Demain is the best documentary she saw recently. Instead of complaining, it shows solutions and tells a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crisis that countries are going through. Another film that I really enjoyed was Wasteland, by the bresilian artist Vik Muniz.
It is funny. Alexandra says she never decides to create a sustainable fashion label. The story came to me on a silver tray. I found a shirt on a flea market and when speaking with the “brocanteuse”, she told me she had 400 pieces and, immediately, I told her I wanted to buy them. I am not a fashion designer neither an antique dealer. The beginning was just luck and magic. Barneys NY immediately carried us and did a corner for the opening of Barneys downtown. So it put the brand under a magnifying glass and all the other brands followed. Today, Alexandra Senes have 30 shops around the world, from Seoul to Marseille, going through Newport California or Tokyo.
I follow Vandana Shiva, sort of feminine Ghandi. She is an indian ecologist and feminist writer who had a Prix Nobel and fights against the GMO’s.
Her current SS2017 collection has been their departure point into the development of other styles. Her brand started with only one model, what they now call the Shirt. This season they have introduced many other styles, such as cinched waist shirt that accentuates the figure and extends to the top of the thigh; or the Ultra Light, which was designed for the easy and breezy, everyday fit. And their ultimate bestseller with shops has been a long dress shirt that has a classic feminine touch with the cinched waist and flowy skirt.
This collection has definitely been more refined and well-tailored. Also, we have started playing with fabrics. Aside from the classic white cotton, we have introduced stripes and liberty fabrics, which are perfect for the summer – she underlines.
No matter how different is each new collection, they will always continue to stick by their eco and ethic main values. Our main fabric is khadi, which is hand-woven cotton made in India. It’s really a universal fabric: it can be very sexy when transparent and not layered and very modest, when doubled. In our collection we represent both options for different kind of woman.
Also, since they work vintage garments, their favorites are hemp and linen. The shirts they work with are incredibly thick and durable. They lasted for centuries and will continue to last. As for ethics, they work only with fair-trade companies and small embroidery ateliers.
Kilometre.Paris is also a strong example of just how much sustainable fashion has evolved. And it is not easy! It’s difficult to embroider the vintage linen shirts, because they are old and we want to be careful with them. We treat them like an old woman or an old Jaguar. Then the material is quite thick so long to embroider. It takes approximately 5-6 weeks to finish the design due to the fabric complexity. When our embroiderers in Mexico were working on the designs for the Selfridges window in London, they worked day and night.
That is why she wish people understood why certain pieces have a high price: our Piece Unique model is hand-embroidered within a period of 5-6 weeks by one woman. The design has full frontal and back embroidery. And I still get asked why is it so expensive? Hand labour has a hefty price tag.
The fact that the fashion world functions in seasons – it’s a never ending cycle, and all parties involved end up getting caught in it: designers with the necessity to produce at least 4 collections a year, and consumers with the constant need to buy-buy-buy…
I want my brand to be out of “seasons”. It’s tough to carve your own way in the established system but I am trying my best to impose it, at least on my clients. And I think it’s working! Starting from July, for example, MatchesFashion will be carrying a range of our Piece Unique models that have been designed over the past 1,5 years. We are not selling seasons but destinations.
Alexandra has some advices for young designers working on ethical and ecological fashion: Flea markets are your best friend. And buying swatches of fabrics on markets all over the world to make the most unique piece once you have gathered enough years after.
Alexandra is a big fan of Industry of All Nations, a shop she discovered in Los Angeles, and would love to collaborate with them one day. In Paris, she recommend us to go to the Wild and the moon for their juices, or to enjoy a granola without gluten at Maisie Cafe.
She also speaks about PH7Equilibre: the clinical name of that restaurant makes me laugh. Their equilibre acido-basique menu is almost a prescription. To end, she is proud of Bar à Meditation: it’s great that a concept like this arrives in France.