Posted on April 13 2015
By Roki Prunali
We got to talking with Michelle Elie- Meiré about her new collection Scarpa for her line of handbags and jewelry called Prim. Needless to say with all her travelling and background it was so interesting talking to her about her collection.
Take a look into the fascinating world that is Prim by Michelle Elie-Merié.
Tell us about when you started Prim. Where did the name come from? What made you get into jewelry and bags?
PRIM was founded in 2010 with my first collection called ” Dynamite”, which was based on Object Trouvé from a series of jewelry and bags that I collected over many years which become a one of a kind piece collection. I wanted the name PRIM for three reasons, its meaning, its typography and it sound. It felt right from the beginning. There was no need to search for another name, once my husband wrote it down on a piece of paper, from that moment the handwritten word PRIM became the logo of the brand. PRIM by Michelle Elie was born. The bags came along with the jewelry because I was collecting these tiny bags from the 40‘s till the 80‘s. At the time, it was something that I was missing in my wardrobe. I could not find jewelry or bags in which I could relate to or wanted to wear. So, I started my own little treasure line really for me and received a huge response from the first collection.
Every season you design your line with inspiration from a significant person in history. How do you choose your inspiration and for this season what was so intriguing to you about Carlo Scarpa?
Yes! It was probably two years ago at the same time I presented MAKAK in Berlin at O32c during Galerie week in April 2012. My favorite and most passionate hobby is going to the Flea market. I go whenever or whatever city I happen to be in over that weekend. So to that reference, I was in Berlin for Galerie weekend and in between my presentation I went to the Beliner’s flea market along Strasse des 17. It was there that I brought two bakelite bracelets, nothing special, for almost nothing, like five euros each. No particular shape nor color but I bought them really for their mood and easiness, and the laying of the color within the bracelet which was a square shape and black and white bakelite bracelet. I fell in love with them. Little did I know at the time, it would be the starting point into SCARPA the new collection. The more I search and read about Carlo Scarpa the more I was fascinated by his work. I had already experience with his work many times in Venice during the Bienniale. I became more intrigued, curious and passionate for Carlo Scarpa’s attention to outstanding details. Scarpa had a famous quote, ” If the architecture is any good, a person who looks and listens will feel its good effect without noticing.” This, well said, applies not only for architecture but everything in life. The BRION Cemetery became an important part of every single piece in this collection. In every aspect of the details, incorporating the circular interlock windows into every piece so the circular shapes become significant. Just as he was known for his most recognizable signature in the BRION Cemetery for the richness in details and his addiction to both the big scale and the attention to little details. What intrigues me most about Carlo Scarpa work was that he never trained as an architect but rather he was a teacher for architectural drawings. He then, worked as an interior and glass designer of Murano company Venini for 15 years and later on he practiced being an architect without a proper license. This is why I am so fascinated by his work. This is passion!
Coming from such an exotic background, how do your roots play into your designs?
Definitely it is an important and fascinating part. I tend to refer a lot of certain elements from my roots somehow into my collections. The last Collection called ” MAKAK ” was a hundred percent from both African and Haitian background. SCARPA has much less to do with my roots, but the next collection I want to produce in Haiti and Africa and base the entire collection with an AFRICAN Theme. This should be a challenge and fun at the same time.
There seems to be a strong presence of animals in your collections. We love the furry bunny. What kind of meaning do the animals play into your collections?
In SCARPA I repeated the Bunny bag because it is for me a timeless and utmost beautiful piece. Not to mention that it is playful and dreamy… This was a piece that took two years to perfect and it is worth every glory in the details. SCARPA is all based on the triangle, square, rectangular and circular shapes and therefore the theme of the collection is Architecture. I think we will see the presence of animals again with the next upcoming collection. I always keep in mind the idea of being a ” Bird of Paradise.” A Fascination for me as always been birds…
Every piece is so detail-oriented and intricate. What kind of crazy lengths do you go to to make sure they match with your vision?
Yes, the collections are very detail- oriented and quite intricate because I am obsessed with telling a story along with impeccable craftsmanship. Within these lines, it might take a whole year or more to develop a piece. This was the case of the Bunny Bag and now The New Obsession 2.0 bags, but the result is ” Absolutely worth it!”
You took a break in between seasons. What were you doing during this time? Traveling, research, time to yourself and family.
There are a lot of different reasons for having a break. First and upmost, is my family. I have three boys that need a lot of attention and they are growing faster than sprouts. I absolutely do not want to miss that by working only. Second, I try to say something relevant or at least beautiful. Third, the need to be inspired by your work and having the passion to continue doing it is very relevant.
You presented your FW15 line in Paris. What brought you to choose this city over the other glamorous fashion week cities?
Well, New York will always have my heart and soul. It is the place that I know and grew up. New York City keeps me going with its energy and the Attitude of ” Just Do It! ” or ” Why Not!”. So New York’s attitude is always with me. Since I live in Germany and Paris is so close, why not Paris. I like the energy of the city during Fashion Week. For me it is the last stop during Fashion month but an important energy comes out towards the end. I knew it would be a bit challenging showing along all international great brands but I felt that PRIM could also be present among the The Big Fish and PRIM had a vision and something to say and why not say it in Paris. I have no limits to where to present PRIM so maybe the next time could be my hometown, New York City. This would be Phenomenal.