Hantée depuis son enfance par les robes de princesses, elle étudie tout d'abord le stylisme à la Rhode Island School of Design, tout en travaillant parallèlement chez Isaac Mizrahi à New York. Puis, après son diplôme, elle traverse l’Atlantique pour entrer aux ateliers couture chez Christian Lacroix. En 1999, elle commence à travailler aux côtés de Karl Lagerfeld pour participer à développer sa ligne Lagerfeld Gallery. L’aventure, riche en expériences, durera sept ans, avant qu’elle crée sa propre marque Caroline Seiklay en 2006. Tout commence par mariage, le sien. En cette occasion, elle dessine sa propre robe de mariée et lance à New York sa ligne de robes du soir. Les finitions sont très couture, ses matières de préférées le tulle, la soie et la dentelle et le tout baigne dans un esprit de légèreté romantique. Son style ultra féminin rencontre vite un vif succès. Et là, elle le présentait pour la première fois à Paris : une collection de robes légères, fraiches et fluides mêlant tulle, satin et soie de mousseline dans des tons pastel.
Why did you bring your collection for the first time to Paris ?
Caroline Seiklay : My base is Paris now; the pieces are designed and made here. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see a different point of view and reaction to the collection. And also because is definitely an important fashion place, if not the most important one, regarding the Press and image.
As a kid you were dreaming of being a ballerina. What made you become a fashion designer?
C.S. : I did not really dream of becoming a ballerina, more of designing their costumes. I started drawing princess dresses when I was very young and I am still doing just that.
I never really made a decision to be a designer, it just came naturally.
What did you learn from Christian Lacroix and especially from Karl Lagerfeld?
C.S. : These two gentlemen have a few things in common that I will always admire, they were both kind, generous, patient, respectful, open minded and open hearted.
I learned that it was ok to be this way with my colleagues and friends. Our work environment was fun and productive this way. Whereas a lot of design houses run on competition and back–stabbing which makes the entire atmosphere a living hell, which is completely unnecessary.
How would you compare their way of working ?
C.S. : The way they design is very different. Christian Lacroix is a painter or sculptor, he drapes on the model and his sketches are works of art. He masters colors and textures which is something I was never very good at but hope to achieve one day. I have always been more like Karl Lagerfeld who designs like an architect, very graphic; he draws perfectly precise sketches on white paper with black ink. His construction is impeccable, his eye very sharp.
I strengthened these qualities with M.Lagerfeld while trying to combine M. Lacroix’s free hand with colors and movement. Most importantly, they both saw fashion as what it is, just fashion, and so had a light hearted approach which made it very enjoyable to work with them.
How would you describe your (“feminine, angelic, romantic”) style and how do your work?
C.S. : I love the human form, weather it be in sculpting, drawing, photography...or dance. So I am very aware of it when I design and tend to want to show it through (literally, seen through) the pieces; which makes them very feminine, sensual and flattering.
I’ve always loved fairy tales and old movies with beautiful costumes, my pieces have a touch of these memories from childhood. But just a touch, I want my pieces to have a life in today’s world, they have to be wearable, comfortable and contemporary.
You started with couture wedding dresses. Why does your spring/sommer collection more shows short pastel cocktail dresses and less evening gowns?
C.S. : I started with couture wedding dresses and moved on to collections of luxe prêt- à-porter pieces. The fall/winter collection was very dark, for SS I felt like going the opposite way; more flirty, girly and light through shapes and colors. I shift moods from one collection to the other; it is more stimulating and keeps us all on our toes.
Your black lace dress from the Resort 2010 collection was worn by Madonna and by Hayden Panettière. What kind of woman do you imagine to wear your clothes ?
C.S. : A woman who is sensual and comfortable with her body. My collections are very different every season, this woman should be able to enjoy this variety and shifts in colors and mood.
What is your major source of inspiration when working, which artist inspires you most, and why?
C.S. : My love for the human form came from Rodin, Michelangelo....but I have always loved old movies and musicals, dance and costumes combined, from flappers to 1960’s. “La Belle et la Bête” by Jean Cocteau is my favorite.
You’re living in between New York, Paris and Beirut – how do these cities shape your taste and your life ?
C.S. : My origins are French, Lebanese and American, so I have grown up with a little of the three. At the same time, I am a bit of a foreigner when I travel to each of these cities.
I have always loved French couture and style, the Lebanese women’s determination to look glamorous at all times, and the American relaxed polished look.
How do you adapt to the market, where are your clients and what are your upcoming projects?
C.S. : I am still trying to adapt to the market, or rather different markets. Each region has different demands, Asia, Middle east, United States....I am still working on satisfying each one, which is no easy task. I am now working on the next Fall/Winter collection and hoping it will appeal to as many different clients as possible.