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Art of Style

The working wardrobe: Emily Marant

Paris-based creative consultant and agency founder EMILY MARANT talks to MEGAN LOGUE about running her own business, the invaluable career lessons she’s learned from her aunt, designer Isabel Marant, and why adaptability is the key to easy 9-to-5 style

Photography Asia TypekStyling Viktorija Tomasevic

Creative consultant and agency founder Emily Marant credits her familial milieu for instilling in her both an artistic streak and strong business acumen. The born-and-bred Parisian comes from a long line of successful creatives – her great-grandfather was a photographer, her great-grandmother a painter, her grandfather a publicist, her father produces exhibitions and her mother is a makeup artist. Then there is her aunt, fashion power player Isabel Marant. Brought up with an eye for beauty, and passions that span myriad disciplines, Emily dabbled in everything from consulting to working in fashion houses and art institutions after graduating from college.

It was an internship at the Musée Maillol, where she was charged with merchandizing and curating the museum store, that Emily pinpoints as the inspiration to set up her own creative agency. Five years ago, at the age of 27, Emily founded Studio Marant. Since then, she has done everything from launch small labels to organize large-scale events, such as French fashion house Sonia Rykiel’s 50th anniversary, for which she worked across different media and connected emerging creatives to produce singular pieces – be they art, beauty or fashion – and experiences. Collaboration is the lifeblood of the business, and the agency is also the culmination of the family’s manifold talents; even the name is a nod to her grandfather’s photographic studio. As for her personal style, Emily’s look is heavily influenced by her home city: “Paris is definitely my city,” she says. “Even if I don’t put any effort into looking Parisian, it’s in my blood.” These are her career and style secrets…

Encourage collaboration

“I realized early on in my career that I could sell concepts and ideas; founding my own company felt less like a leap of faith and more like something I just had to do. Studio Marant is like a laboratory that brings together all sorts of disciplines, but the thread of continuity running through all our projects is the focus on collaboration. I like to connect different artists, creatives and labels to see what we can create when we bring these different worlds and visions together. It might involve art direction, scenography or an artist working in a totally new medium for the first time, and our projects range from small scale to huge events. That’s why I like to call the studio a laboratory; there’s experimentation happening all the time. The key to finding emerging talent is to always keep your eyes and ears open. I might be visiting one of my artists at their atelier and bump into someone else doing something interesting while I’m there.”

I’ve been brought up to believe in the value of hard work. If you want something, you have to get your s*** together and go for it

Put the hours in

“I’ve been brought up to believe in the value of hard work. If you want something, you have to get your s*** together and go for it. My company is just me, so if I wake up one day and I’m ill, the emails unfortunately won’t write themselves; things don’t happen on their own. My aunt Isabel [Marant] is one of the hardest-working people I know; she’s in the atelier from the crack of dawn every day. Despite all her success, she’s one of the most down-to-earth people you could ever meet – that’s one of the things I find most inspiring about her.”

Pause for thought

“During the first few weeks of lockdown, I – like everyone else, I’m sure – felt very anxious. However, after the initial shock, it was actually reassuring to think that everyone was on hold. It’s given me the time to really get creative and think about how I could make my work more meaningful. I was supposed to co-launch a new project – one that’s been two years in the making – in April, but it’s been pushed back to next spring. It’s called French Cliché, and we’ve asked artists and designers to create special interiors objects for us. There will only be a limited number of each piece available, but at all different price points; we wanted to make art that felt democratic and could be collected by anyone. The delay has given us time to extend the program to include an artist’s residency in the South of France, something we would never have had time to do before.”

For me, styling is about balance; I’ll always have a mixture of feminine and masculine elements in every look

It’s all about adaptability

“I dress in quite a stripped-back way because I need an outfit to serve me for the entire day, no matter what’s on the agenda. I love styling a suit with a slogan tee and sneakers – it’s so comfortable for running around town from meeting to meeting. Then, if you’re going for a cocktail at the end of the day, you can just add a heel. For me, styling is about balance; I’ll always have a mixture of feminine and masculine elements in every look. I also have a styling rule when it comes to proportion: I can wear something short if the neckline is modest and, on the flip side, I might wear something sexy on top if my legs are covered – in French we call it équilibre. I also love a simple tee and denim for a casual 9-to-5 outfit. These days, my preferred jeans are high-waisted and straight-legged, with a slight crop. However, over the years I have gone from super-straight styles to more flared cuts, and I love rediscovering these in my closet – they feel brand new again. When you’re purchasing clothes, it’s important to think about their longevity – I have no interest in buying something that will only work for one season.”

There’s something really empowering about wearing a chic, stylish outfit – it brings something to the conversation

Dress with purpose

“If I have a big meeting with investors, I will dress for the occasion. I tend to look quite young, so sometimes people can treat me like a kid in those situations, but there’s something really empowering about wearing a chic, stylish outfit – it brings something to the conversation. I’ll always opt for a tailored jacket or a heel that makes me hold myself a little higher; it’s more a question of body language than clothing. I am very low-maintenance when it comes to hair and beauty – I don’t really like wearing makeup and I just let my hair do its own thing – but when I have an engagement or a meeting, I know I can’t look scruffy, so I’ll put on mascara. That said, I am really interested in the way people use makeup and the psychology behind it. For example, my mother will dab a little red on her lips and suddenly she’s ready to go out. I love how it can empower and transform.”

Embellish liberally

“I have fallen in love with Bottega Veneta’s bags in recent seasons. As the rest of my look is quite understated – I live in loafers, jeans and tees – accessories are really important for bringing a little color and elevating my outfits. I always carry a huge bag for my laptop, prototypes and even gym gear around town, then a smaller one so that if I have after-work plans, I can just bring that. I have a flashy little green belt bag from Isabel Marant that I’ve been wearing over my shoulder recently. I’m also a huge fan of gold jewelry, especially during the summer – it looks so good against a tan.”