“In the week, I have no idea what the weather is like, I don't care,” she says of her head-down work ethic. “But I need to be surrounded by nature from time to time or I feel suffocated. I want to grab mud and feel the ground beneath my bare feet.” In the cabin's grounds is a river, in which Marant swims 3km every weekend morning between April and September. “It is like a walk in the forest, but I swim it instead. I empty my head and get clear visions of work.”
In her off-duty wardrobe of shorts and tank tops (her own label, naturally), all sinewy caramel limbs and bare-faced beauty, Marant has an 'earth mother' vibe about her. There are few French runway designers making clothes you feel comfortable wearing while dancing in a field at midnight, but Marant's are made with a freer lifestyle in mind. Though she didn't grow up in a free-spirited household – she had a conservative upbringing in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly – Marant began experimenting
with her look at the age of nine, rebelling against her peers. “I wasn't loving myself very much back then. I didn't think I was pretty so I wanted to hide,” she says, recalling how she copied Patti Smith's long fringe so no one could see her face. “I wore flares with rotten hems, suede shoes and Laura Ashley long white skirts.”
Her friends, meanwhile, were discovering penny loafers and the bright prints of Fiorucci. “No one was used to seeing kids with their own style, but the prim girls in the chic district admired me because I had the spirit to do what I wanted.” Soon those friends began asking Marant to make clothes for them, too. A designer was born.
Some 35 years later and that unrestricted aesthetic still exists in every piece, from SS13's studded boots to the paisley tunics with their '70s vibe. But elements of those young insecurities still exist: when Marant slips into a pair of micro shorts for our shoot, she pulls her hair into a bun, saying she hates to look “too feminine”.
These days, her look is made up
of favorite designs of past seasons. Of the varsity emblem sweater she is wearing, she has another 14 at home; 25 pairs of the printed jeans; countless repeats of the faded tee; and four pairs of the flat, black suede boots that she describes as her “nun shoes”.
Nonconformity runs in the Marant family, it seems. Her son,
Tal, she says, is a "complete bohemian", who cries every Sunday when it is time to leave the cabin. "He likes to play with wood, fashioning bows and arrows. He'd happily live in the mountains." Clearly, there's a part of his mother that would like to do the same.
Isabel's go-to pieces
"I LIKE TO WEAR men's pants in the evening with one of my jackets over them."
Top, pants and sandals, all by Isabel Marant; all jewelry, Isabel's own
"WHITE LEATHER and studs remind me of Elvis."
"I'VE BEEN desperate to wear this top all season."credits
Makeup: Hélène Vasnier at ArtList