What do you get when you combine every woman’s fantasy of running away to live in Paris with the most stylish, effortless and chic clothing line to debut stateside? Sezane: the dreamy online retailer created by Morgane Sezalory that just opened their first boutique in New York City earlier this year. We fell head over heels with everything in the store when we held a member meet-up this Fall; and once we learned that the woman behind the brand was also a mama, we jumped at the chance to sit down with the designer to learn more. Grab a coffee, put your feet up and transport yourself to Paris. Bienvenue!
Sezane has developed a cult following. What was the pivotal moment that inspired you to create your own line?
I had been working on a website called Les Composantes, selling vintage pieces and built an incredible community in France of girls who would rendez-vous with me each month. The pieces would sell out more and more quickly each month, with my customers asking me all the time to create my own pieces. It wasn’t until eventually in 2013 with the urging of my husband that I decided to create my own collections and Sézane – a contraction of my last and first names – was born.
We are so excited about your recent store launch in NYC! Your brand started as an online only boutique. What motivated you to open a physical space and do you have more in the works?
Our stores are a way for new shoppers to understand and experience the brand, and for existing customers to engage with the Sézane lifestyle. In our Appartements, we are able to host events, tell beautiful stories with looks, textures, smells… it’s harder to do this online!
How did the L’Appartement concept come about?
We wanted to create a destination that doesn’t look like just another store – it’s like a very beautiful home, where we want people to feel free to stay and read a book, have a coffee, etc. The Paris Appartement has a movie theater, a library next door, etc. The New York Appartement is a bit more intimate but I wanted it to feel similar to the Paris store… I also introduced a selection of my favorite French lifestyle items in New York – vintage Gallimard books, Parisian candles and stationary, etc.
You didn’t have a traditional design background. Did you have a mentor or someone who really influenced and helped to develop you in the early days? What was that like?
My mentor has been and still is my husband, Thibault. He was really the impetus for me to start Sézane in 2013. He was working as a consultant for online start-ups then, and I remember him saying to me, “You’re frustrating your customers by only giving them such a small amount of stock!” I was worried about hiring staff because I thought if I had employees then I would have less freedom. But it was Tibault who said, “There’s no freedom in working 24/7 with only a four hours sleep each night”… and voila, Sézane was born!
Your career began when you curated and sold vintage finds online. Do you still love to hunt for vintage? What are your favorite places to shop?
Yes I do! Online – it’s still eBay. In Paris, Les Puces de Saint Ouen is a huge flea market where I love to go for décor shopping. I have found many pieces there for our L’Appartement Paris.
If you were only able to save one fashion item to pass down to each of your girls, what would it be?
This is hard! My mom gave me a few of her vintage pieces that I cherish… probably those. The quality and construction of certain pieces from the 1920s and 30s is hard to find these days, and I love the idea of passing beloved pieces down from mother to daughter through the years.
How would you describe the ideal Sezane woman?
Our customers really vary – all ages, nationalities, occupations. What’s consistent is she has a big heart and gravitates towards Sézane because we just want to make the most beautiful and accessible creations for her, and we just want to make her feel good.
My mentor has been and still is my husband, Thibault. He was really the impetus for me to start Sézane in 2013.
Do you have a company mantra or set of ideals that mean something to you? If so, what are they?
I always tell my team the same thing my mom raised me with: treat others as you would want to be treated. The same for hosting – host how you would want to be hosted. It’s very important for me that everyone we work with, every customer we talk to, feels well-treated and well taken care of. We want her to feel beautiful and really amazing in our clothes, in our stores, etc.
What are your five favorite pieces from your line?
The Jacks – our ultimate French girl sneaker that is comfy yet chic!
The denim – especially our 1967 Brut Sexy… it’s magically flattering!
All our coats but especially the Joe! It’s classic and elegant.
Our Gaby bag – perfect for everyday toting around.
And last but not least… our Ninon blouse. It’s the perfect French girly yet classic top!
How would your best friend describe you? Your assistant? Your husband?
They would all say a mixture of passionate, very curious, open-minded, wear my heart on my sleeve… and maybe can be intense sometimes. 😉
What has been the most surprising thing about motherhood and the journey it has brought you upon?
I think about my girls in everything I do and find that they inspire me a lot for work! I design pieces I imagine they will still love in 20 years, and I think about making our customers feel the way I would want my girls to feel when they discover a new fashion brand they love.
What is your morning routine? Evening routine?
In the mornings, I check on my girls first and then I quickly scan our Sézane social media channels for customer comments – I always want to know what’s going on with them. I don’t drink coffee much, so I enjoy a fresh juice in the morning. In the evenings, I spend time with my husband and daughters – we read, listen to music and dance around, play games. I like to begin and end the day with my family. It’s the most beautiful feeling.
Accept that sometimes it’s really difficult and we are all doing our best!
Make sure to prioritize time with your husband. Thibault and I make sure to do weekend getaways when we can (luckily we have family close by who love to take care of the girls) and we do one or two big trips just the two of us each year. This holiday we’re going to Buenos Aires!
Let your children inspire you! Envision their future and what you can do to make it a better place for them as they grow up.