One of British artist Robert Montgomery‘s poetic, text-based pieces inspired Jenny Mannerheim and Ilan Delouis to create their own fashion label, the Parisian based Each x Other. Much like Montgomery’s work, which is not afraid to question social conventions, Each x Other’s signature aesthetic challenges the notion that women and men cannot share a common wardrobe. Together, Mannerheim and Delouis championing an androgynous mix of unisex clothing, proclaiming (on a sleeveless tank) “We Are All One.”
“Fashion meets art; man meets woman; daywear meets nightwear; urban meets intellectual—we want to create interesting encounters that make us feel more complete and harmonious,” explains Mannerheim.
KATE LAWSON: How did you come together with Ilan to create the label?
JENNY MANNERHEIM: I had formerly art directed for Vogue Hommes International and Beaux Arts magazine, and Ilan had previously launched a brand called Faith Connection and You, so there was an instant fashion-art-publishing-entrepreneur connection.
We met in Paris in October 2012 and we had a visionary state of mind in common that was eager to dream our own ideologies and eager to connect with others—we both saw the fashion industry and the Internet as an important platform to share ideas and express thoughts. We saw clothes as a great meeting space for people all over the world to create a dialogue.
LAWSON: Tell me more about the Robert Montgomery poem that in part inspired the label—how does it translate across to your design ethos?
MANNERHEIM: Well, the poem reads, “The city is wilder than you think and kinder than you think. It is a valley and you are a horse in it. It is a house and you are a child in it. Safe and warm here, in the fire of each other.”
It was part of a Robert Montgomery recycled light sculpture on show at my Parisian gallery Nuke. Our interpretation of the poem is that it is full of contrast; it is intimate and deeply emotional, but yet with a universal message, and the text is an intention of collective well-being. The words are forming an image that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking, it’s traditional and modern, a reflection of friendship and love. We have used the poem in print or patched on most of our clothes like a hymn or a prayer.
LAWSON: What were your first designs?
MANNERHEIM: Our first collection was a line of timeless basics based on men’s tailoring—coats, suits, jeans, and shirts which incorporated artists’ work but also elements that you will find in an artist’s studio, like paint, canvas, tape. Each x Other is about clothes made in luxury materials like washed silk, cashmere, and lambskin, but we roughen things up a bit to give them life. Hopefully, it conveys a sense of life aesthetics. Our style is based on an artist’s lifestyle; we reflect the idea of the “do-it-yourself” attitude. We work clothes like an artist prepares a canvas. For us, beauty lies in imperfection, beauty lies in the “handmade,” in the “home-crafted” versus the robotic, or the industrial.
LAWSON: What’s the process behind your designs and how is it in keeping to your key aesthetic?
MANNERHEIM: We use Robert’s [Montgomery] favorite quote by Jenny Holzer to stick to our key aesthetic: “Use what is dominant in culture to change it quickly.”
We like to play with dominant pieces like a biker jacket, a tuxedo, a peacoat, and change them into something new. Our key aesthetic is in the shape of the clothes. It’s in the history of a garment. We want people to connect with our clothes through their familiarity of how to wear them but then we change the look of them with our own prints, colors, and embellishments.
LAWSON: Do you have any design team rituals that help you create?
MANNERHEIM: We often watch the final speech by Charlie Chaplin in The Dictator in the office for inspiration, and everyone loves his words, “We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.”
LAWSON: Unity is definitely a dominant theme, as is your message of equality and a common identity; why is that so important to you?
MANNERHEIM: When we describe our clothes as androgynous, we’re referring to the Greek mythology of the word, “andro” for man and “gyne” for woman. The mythology is that in the beginning there were two neutral souls and then they became man and woman.
A woman can be feminine and a man can be masculine or a bit of both. It states the idea of the importance of harmony between masculine and feminine forces. We wanted to create a chic yet wearable wardrobe with a common identity.
LAWSON: Do you see fashion as a blank canvas, a form of art?
MANNERHEIM: Fashion is a different form of art, closer to craft, because it has a utility and it protects you from cold, or heat, or rain, or wind. Art does not have a utility. It has value, but no utility other than elevation of the spirit and mind.
LAWSON: Whom would you most like to collaborate with next?
MANNERHEIM: Gregor Hildebrandt—we love his work and have some great ideas about how to translate his work into wearable pieces. We’re also very excited to create a collection for next summer with Studio Orta and with Douglas White.
LAWSON: You recently showcased a new exhibition with Robert Montgomery at Colette in Paris, too.
MANNERHEIM: Yes. Our core ethos of “art meets fashion” has always sought to democratize art, making it accessible for a wider audience. The collaboration, as part of our “Artist Multiples” series means that Colette customers can buy a signed and numbered art piece for a comparable price to an item of clothing.
LAWSON: And your F/W 2014 ad campaign has now been unveiled, which artists did you work with for that collection?
MANNERHEIM: We worked with seven artists to do small capsules of around 10 pieces and each one also created a limited edition—”Artist Multiples” in dialogue with the clothes. We worked with Maripol, Fabio Paleari, Simonn & La Fratrie, Ann Grim, Francois Mangeol, and Blair Chivers on this collection. It launches in August.
LAWSON: What’s next for you?
MANNERHEIM: So much is happening! We plan to open a new atelier and showroom in New York in February in 2015 and we are also launching a shoe collection and a jewelry collection in Summer 2015. There will also be a printed magazine launching about poetry, philosophy, art, and fashion this September that will be available in bookshops and via all of our point of sales.
FOR MORE ON EACH X OTHER, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.