We speak with the name behind the iconic brand Molli on her modern vision for a heritage name
Visiting Molli Director Charlotte de Fayet in her Paris home, is almost a visual metaphor for the brand itself. Located in a historic neighbourhood, the home she shares with her husband and two children (with one on the way) looks, from the outside, like a quintessential Parisian apartment. Inside, however, is a cornucopia of modern art and an artistic touch and it is immediately clear that this is a philosophy that runs deep through Charlotte’s approach to the heritage brand she has, in the past two years, breathed new life into.
Established in 1886, Molli started life in Switzerland as a knitwear brand making, primarily, undergarments and later baby clothes. Soon enough the production of undergarments ceased, responding to the changing fashion of women – In the 19th Century, style moved away from voluminous, fluid dresses to more fitted silhouettes rendering bulkier knitted underwear unsuitable.
While still making a small number of pieces for women, it was the line of baby clothes that went from strength to strength, becoming affectionately and flatteringly known as Hermès for babies. Timeless jumpsuits, bonnets, and booties are considered ‘iconic’ pieces.
For the birth of her second child, a son, Charlotte was gifted the baby jumpsuit and was immediately enamoured of the fine construction and its petal-soft wool. Proving that these pieces really are for forever, it was the same design worn by her husband when he was a baby. Flirting with the idea of a career change already, Charlotte visited the Molli Paris store and spoke with the Manager and arranged a one-on-one with the brand’s owner. By the time her newborn son was six months old she was Molli’s new owner.
When I ask her what drew her to the brand (apart from exquisite design) she says it was the “strong DNA, the one-of-a-kind knitting know-how, they were the experts in soft but lasting construction”. With a background in marketing, she now has a heavy hand in design. “We make pieces that women can wear. We can all own the same simple white top but each of us will style it completely differently. It’s how you live in it”.
When she took the helm, the classic, beloved pieces all stayed but now they offer women’s ready to wear which makes up a substantial part of the business. “I’m obsessed with the marriage of comfort and elegance” which, from spending time with the polished-yet-relaxed mum, is clearly a personal approach as well as a business one. The main thing is that our clothes are designed to make women feel good. Like themselves. We make pieces we know our customers will wear. I don’t consider us a fashion brand – we’re timeless with a touch of modernity – but we’re lucky to count names like Lea Seydoux, Sofia Coppola and Natalia Vodianova as fans .”
In addition to the design, the construction is also a considered process. “All the pieces are easy to wear, to travel with, and to take care of”. Perhaps the most recognisable feature of is the fine knit. For anyone less familiar with knitting, the garter stitch knit is one of the most common stitches but to get it as delicate as that exhibited in a Molli piece is almost impossible to do by hand. “All of our wool and cotton comes from Italy which is also where the pieces are made. Having the construction team at a commutable distance is ideal so we can visit and work closely together. We know the Italy-based team intimately, we know their families and this is how we like to work”.
While knits in the summer may seem oxymoronic, the baby wool and fine cotton is designed to breathe. Babies need help regulating their body temperature so the wool will keep them warm when they’re cold and breathe on warmer days. As a mother of (nearly) three, Charlotte is in the beneficial position of being a consumer of the baby products and a wearer of the women’s collection as an expectant mother. While the pieces aren’t designed for new mothers, their design lends them to accommodate a growing body and NINE IN THE MIRROR has selected the pieces best suited to women who are expecting. The fibres of the pure new wool and cotton are naturally flexible, the knitted waistbands and the looser fits lend themselves well to cinching at the waist or above a bump for a comfortable fit that looks tailored.
The care taken with design, the construction, and the overarching philosophy driving the brand means the lifetime of a given piece from the collections could be generations long. Just as Molli customers are loyal to the brand, the brand and the clothes themselves are just as loyal to the wearer. And if Charlotte’s easy, relaxed, and refined look is the same vision she shares for the brand, we’ll be adding one of everything to our wardrobe immediately.
In Her Words
Hide the bump or show off the bump?
It’s actually the bump taking the decision for you, and after 6 months it gets difficult to hide it..
Nine joyous months or nine long months?
8 joyful months + 1 eternity
What have you missed most during pregnancy?
What has surprised you most about pregnancy?
It’s funny to see that when you are expecting a baby, everyone is so gentle and kind in the street, on the metro, everywhere!
What could you not have lived without when expecting?
I was really happy to skip lines at airports.
Girl, boy or waiting to find out?
Boy and very glad
If your partner could carry the baby would you let him?
I think I’d rather carry him myself, when my husband gets a small cold or a little scratch it’s a big deal, so I wouldn’t be ready to handle his complaints for 9 months!