FASHION BY JULIETTE C
What inspires designers to create? Midway through her international career in fine jewellery and luxury watches, Juliette Capillaire would never have imagined that she’d one day become an entrepreneur and fashion designer. Sometimes, though, a passing chance is all it takes to reveal hidden talents. Seven years after the launch of the first capsule for women in Dubai, Capsule by Juliette has locations in Singapore and Shanghai, and is available worldwide online. Today, Capsule by Juliette has refined and re-centred itself around the name of its founder. Let’s take this opportunity to get to know this surprising, stylish, multi-talented and thoroughly inspiring woman.
The world of luxury goods
Juliette’s career got off to a smooth start when, during her international business degree, she spent her first internship working for Cartier in New York. “Cartier helped me enter the luxury goods market and gave me a taste for travel”. Juliette took a determined plunge into this universe, working for jewellers Dinh Van, Poiray, and Van Cleef & Arpels before joining Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin in Geneva. Her professional experience working for these prestigious brands with strong company cultures provided her with wide-ranging skills in PR, marketing and sales. When she moved to Dubai to join her husband, she suddenly found herself at a loose end. “I loved my work, I was always travelling, and I was managing store openings all over the world...” She had to find a new path. “Until then, I’d never worked in a creative or design role, and I’d never seen myself as a creator or entrepreneur”. But life can be full of surprises…
A creative click
Just a passing chance: Juliette couldn’t find pyjamas for her young children, so she decided to design some, have them made, and launch her own children’s brand, Jules & Juliette. “I collected all my friends’ children’s pyjamas to make patterns in every size”. These were her first prototypes, and the first steps in her career as a fashion designer. The pyjamas were soon selling at pop-up boutiques and through direct sales. Juliette decided to enrol at the fashion school ESMOD Dubai, where she learned a new profession and honed her skills. From her employment experience, she retained high professional standards and an ambitious vision. She created a children’s collection complete with Liberty-print dresses, swimsuits, and shorts, and held two fashion shows. Her initiative met with success, and soon her clients were asking her if she would make clothing for them as well. With the same versatility that had guided her career to date, Juliette created and launched a small women’s collection, Capsule by Juliette, which included the flagship jumpsuit that became her signature piece. And then she was off to Singapore: the adventure had begun!
Valuing skilled craftsmanship
When she arrived in Singapore, Juliette concentrated on developing Jules & Juliette and Capsule by Juliette. “For almost 2 years, I felt like I was doing everything in stereo: collections, photo shoots, marketing...” She sold her children’s brand to concentrate on designing for women, travelling to Vietnam and India to meet new suppliers and having fabric dyed in the Pantone® colours of her choice. The next step was deciding to create original prints. Juliette has always had a gift for meeting the right people at the right time. While in Provence one summer, a chat with an interior decorator led to a meeting with an Indian artist who creates prints for upholstery. Juliette followed this lead to Delhi, where she discovered woodblock printing and established a new partnership. “I fell in love with this technique and its aesthetic, as well as the ethics of this woman, who gives her all to preserve this incredible craft while respecting her staff, product quality, and the environment”. Juliette’s first prints were created through this collaboration. Her passion for preserving local craft traditions led her to work with embroiderers, also based in India. “Craft traditions are being lost. I’m thrilled to be participating in the preservation of these skills, and I’m offering my clients unique clothes”. Quality and skill: these are key words for Juliette, who never stops exploring. Another chance encounter put her in contact with an Italian illustrator. Her prints evolved, drawing on graphic, animal, and lyrical inspiration for collections with such evocative names as Birds, Wild Forest, Bliss and San Francisco.
After the capsules came the collections. Juliette opened her first boutique in Singapore, and her style began to take shape. With her favourite designers—Barbara Bui and Isabelle Marant—Juliette shares a strong identity and a desire to give women the means to feel good about themselves. The theme of women’s empowerment is fashionable, but Juliette’s designs also embody a distinctively French aspect: the famous French touch. They skilfully blend a hint of glamour, a touch of the bohemian and a dose of rock to create a nonchalant look that is utterly chic, reflecting the style of the energetic, feminine Parisienne juggling her daily activities. Made to last, her clothing revisits wardrobe basics: “My clothes always have a detail that makes them distinctive and sets them apart from a pure basic. I love detailed sleeves that make a piece stylish; gathers on a white shirt; wide cuffs and mother-of-pearl buttons. The choice of materials is essential: I only use 100% natural materials”. Among her timeless signature designs are several variations on the jumpsuit she created early on, a bomber jacket, and embroidered pieces. Each season, Juliette introduces new basics that are elegant and easy to accessorise according to the wearer’s style and personality.
A lifestyle and slow fashion concept
Clothing is at the centre of Juliette’s work, but her collections also include a constellation of accessories that reflect this core. Each collection includes matching accessories such as silk scarves, headbands, clutches, belts, and notepads. The clothing ranges from evening wear to loungewear. Juliette says of her Sous le Figuier candle: “I imagined a candle that would fill the house with the comforting scent of figs, the fragrance of my summers in Provence”. The prints of each collection are echoed in gold vermeil jewellery. “Designing jewellery comes naturally to me, as I worked in the industry for years. My jewellery and collections are inseparable and complementary: they have the same name”. And then there are those chance meetings that blossom into partnerships. With Mathilde, for example, founder of the Dubai-based brand With My Sands, who helped Juliette design her own sandals. Or in Singapore, where she and her graphic designer friend Hélène co-designed t-shirts whose sale profits went towards helping Philippine women launch their own businesses. Juliette is committed to ethical action. “I try to do my best: I use fabric scraps for my accessories, and I mainly use fabrics with Oeko-Tex® certification guaranteeing they are free from harmful substances. I visit my suppliers and make sure their employees are treated well. I only use natural, comfortable materials”.
Juliette moved to Shanghai in August 2020. Another change of scene, another culture shock. After four years in Singapore, she had to completely rethink her communication strategy. There was a new language to take into account, as well as a social-media culture specific to China. “The Chinese have their own networks, their own particular internet language. You have to adapt, and it’s quite innovative here. Compared with Europe, they’re often ahead of the game with technologies like live streaming”. Then came Covid, changing daily life worldwide and closing borders. But Juliette isn’t the type to be discouraged: her motto is never give up. “Meeting new people and forming relationships is one of my strengths. I always begin by getting to know people and learning. I already possessed these qualities without realising that they would be entrepreneurial strengths”. She hired a young Chinese woman to assist her and develop the necessary tools, and held a sale from her home as well as a major fashion show in spring 2021 to launch her brand in China. Unable to travel to India to meet her manufacturers, she found new ones locally. Although it had been 3 years since she’d been able to visit her boutique in Singapore, she managed to keep it open, and even to hire new staff from a distance. In China, she designed her first winter collection, took her first steps in knitwear using Mongolian cashmere, and created a collection made with flannel sourced from a supplier of fabric for men’s clothing. She also offered her clients a special capsule collection for the Chinese New Year.
Listening to Juliette’s story inspires daydreams. How does someone who’d never imagined becoming a fashion designer make it to where Juliette is today? We sometimes inherit wisdom whose importance we don’t see at the time. For Juliette, it’s important to recognise the influence of her grandmother. “She was the quintessential Parisian woman. Utterly elegant, quite simple, beautiful and refined without ever overdoing it. She introduced me to fashion, showed me how to look my best, and taught me to recognise quality materials. She took me to the theatre and to dance performances. I’ve been a dancer all my life, and stage costumes are probably a source of aesthetic inspiration for me. I’m sensitive to the way fabric hangs, and I like the clothes I design to be comfortable and to move with the body”. Pragmatic and intuitive, Juliette doesn’t follow trends. Nevertheless, her clothes are always in fashion: everything inspires her, and she has an eye for detail. Never at a loss for new ideas and directions, she’s already got some new iconic designs in mind... which remain under wraps for the time being!
What began as a little capsule grew to be a brand. Juliette threw herself into her work, and her collections flourished. It was time for Capsule by Juliette to spread its wings and take on a new name: Juliette C. This new identity expresses the fundamental link between the brand and its creator: “Women inspire me. I think they accomplish extraordinary things, and they deserve to be made beautiful!” The brand’s clothing embodies the soul of the designer, which may be the secret to making clothes we enjoy wearing. The name of the upcoming collection, Clouds, symbolises lightness, daydreams, and metamorphosis, deftly mirroring the change of brand name. Behind every cloud, there’s a star. The nomadic Juliette C invites us along on this journey through a constellation of radiant women!
translation Julie Windebank
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