In March of 2016, I somehow found myself in Paris during Fashion Week, specifically for Paris Fashion Week. This was something I could have only dreamed of in my adolescence but by luck and chance it had somehow transpired into my reality. The most significant event during this five-day trip however, was not the small handful of shows I managed to attend, but rather, my meeting with Belgian based lingerie label, la fille d'O.
Murielle, the founder and designer of la fille d'O, and Lien, their sales/office manager, happened to be in Paris the same time as I was to show la fille d'O's A/W 2016 collection, In Drops. Not In Rivers. In an attempt to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I would've previously shied away from, and to put my 2016 New Year's resolutions, which was to be bold, be open, and to try new things, into practice, I messaged them via Instagram asking if I could arrange to visit their showroom on my last day in Paris. Murielle got back to me shortly and proposed if I would be interested in making some images together. I vehemently accepted her offer.
The reason I'm writing this post today, is in response to the controversy surrounding la fille d'O, and the accusations which have been made against them. I am usually not one to speak out about my opinions, for fear of confrontation or disagreement, and also because I've never seen the point in giving my two cents when everyone in the world was already so eager to give theirs. But this is something that frustrates me the more I think about it, and this is something that feels personal because I have a relationship with both Murielle and her brand. I feel it is therefore important to shed my truth on the situation.
I've only met Murielle once, conversed with her a few times on social media, and followed la fille d'O for around two years now, give or take. But from the handful of interactions I've had with her, Murielle is someone I have a huge amount of respect for, and it is not difficult to see why. She has this special quality I admire in others that I've always lacked myself. She has the ability to not only create, but to create something with impact. Fifteen years ago when she felt like she was unable to purchase ethically produced lingerie that offered more than the modern lingerie, she went out and created la fille d'O. While this process might have stemmed from a place of self-interest to fill what was missing in her life, what she created has become something that is being shared so passionately and authentically with the world everyday. la fille d'O now, is being embraced by other like-minded souls who wanted lingerie that was avant-garde, lingerie that transcended the male gaze, lingerie that was not sexualised, lingerie that was both functional and beautiful, lingerie that represented more than just a garment, but an embodiment of intelligent, powerful women. To put it so simply and perfectly, "[la fille d'O] design[s] what we want and cannot find."
"I am inspired by my friends; intelligent women who know how to cultivate themselves, their body a tool for personal growth and not just an object of desire. I want to share their stories with the world in order to inspire others to be just as free from shame and fear, driven by curiosity and lust for life."
- Murielle Victorine Scherre
Ironically, the exact post Murielle is now being attacked for, is a post highlighting the origins of la fille d'O. I personally found her statement, "I wanted to buy lingerie that was beautifully designed, ethically sourced and produced and didn't make me look like a slut with a pea for a brain," quite comical. While I can understand why people may feel uncomfortable with the terminology used here, I don't understand the disproportionate anger directed towards her for expressing her own personal feelings in the best way she could. English is not her first language. Not once has she stated that all sluts have peas for brains, not once has she stated that all women who wore modern lingerie were sluts, and not once has she stated that feeling like a slut was a negative thing. She simply felt this was what modern lingerie was putting out to the world at the time, and this was not necessarily something she wanted to feel all the time. I have spoken to Murielle about this, and we are both in agreement that sometimes you just want to feel a little slutty, but this isn't necessarily the image you want to portray all the time. The statements made that 'slut' is a word feminists are now trying to reclaim is ironic too, for if that is the case, why is she being witch-hunted on social media for expressing herself?
I am mostly angry at the way people have become so overly sensitive and overly concerned that they miss the point or forget about the bigger picture, and get offended on behalf of issues that aren't personal to them. I am also angry at how we now live in a society where such a large population of individuals are so concerned with being socially or political correct (i.e. SJWs) that what they want to say is avoided or sugar-coated, and what is actually being said is no longer authentic. On the contrary, the authenticity of Murielle's vision for la fille d'O shines through so brightly in her personal narrative that is consistent across all channels of her social media, la fille d'O's website, and down to each garment description. Earlier on in this post, I also stated the names of both Murielle and Lien. I felt it was important to show some of the people who make la fille d'O happen. This is not a faceless brand churning out super cool lingerie out of nowhere. Rather, la fille d'O is the product of a group of women, with individual personalities and identities who share a common vision that I am proud to support. It is the intimacy behind knowing who makes your lingerie and why they want to make your lingerie that makes me so passionate about la fille d'O. I therefore find it strange how anyone could criticise her decision to use her personal voice as one for her brand, which is quite strangely, one of the accusations currently made against her.
If you've truly followed the brand the way I have, you should know that any disagreements or hesitations you have about the post that is now being so largely criticised, is merely down to semantics and miscommunication. It is ridiculous to me how anyone could mistake Murielle's words for faux-feminism, or that la fille d'O is using feminism as a marketing ploy. To imply that this takes away the essence of la fille d'O is cruel, and for lack of a better word, slander. A more constructive way in which this situation could have been handled, I feel, was for anyone who had a problem with the choice of terminology to express their concerns in a helpful way, and for her to elaborate on what she meant by her statement, thus allowing both parties to come to an understanding. Instead, what is happening now is, this boss-ass woman who has worked so hard in creating this brand that represents all women, is being attacked from all fronts on social media by people who would rather choose to follow the 'popular' opinion like sheep than to think for themselves.
I'm not writing this to start a discussion. I am not interested in proving my point any further. I've said what I wanted to say here today, and I'm writing this because I feel like I should speak out for what I think is the truth, even when I feel like my opinion is unpopular, and one of the minority. I wear my la fille d'O proudly, and I have no doubt this company comprised of a small team of powerful, intelligent women, are all about making other women feel invincible. Prior to that day, I had never, and have never since, shot with anyone else. While I have reservations and criticisms about how my own body looks in the images I created with Murielle, these will forever be special to me, as they are a reflection of a time in my life when I was fearless.