Coco Chanel, the French Fashion designer who inspired and ruled over couture fashion for six decades, is quoted as saying, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Chanel created the “little black dress” and brought simplicity to the world of woman’s fashion with the use of unconventional fabrics and design, setting the fashion tone for the 20th century.
Ninety-seven years after Coco Chanel opened her first shop in Paris, Keitsha Klash, a 38-year-old French designer, is in the midst of her own fashion revolution. She refers to it as Mystik Revolution, the same name given to her clothing line of low-cut dresses, free-fly suits, and clothing that is sensual in movement, embodying a woman’s spirit.
Ms. Klash was born in the town of Bordeaux, situated in the Southwest of France off the Atlantic coast, where she grew up spending her free time at the ocean body-boarding. Bordeaux, France, is revered as “The city of Art and History”. Hailed as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble” on the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage list, Bordeaux is an inspiration to architects and artists alike.
Keitsha Klash partially defines herself in the following quotes:
“I used to body-board a lot in the waves of the Atlantic, this gave me so much inspiration and at the same time I was designing and realizing clothes for myself. That’s how it started for me; my passions (outside of design) showed me the way.”
“In my youth, I was a dancer and I started at an early age making my clothes to demonstrate my own style, especially low-cut dresses. I have always been a rebel. I wanted to be free; freedom (of expression) has been a mainstay in my life. I come from a country of revolution and my favorite quote is the French revolutionary device of 1789, “Vivre Libre ou mourir”. (Live free or die)
Since 1997, Klash has found inspiration in the “telluric force” of the French Alps. The Alps are home to snow-capped mountains in the winter and lush green valleys with wild flowers during the summer. Skiing, snowboarding, hiking, canoeing, as well as paragliding and skydiving, are popular activities in the area. Chamonix played host to the first Winter Olympics in 1924 adding another bookmark to world history.
“I live at 1850 meters high and love to live in the high altitude; it’s so beautiful in the area surrounding my home,” says Klash.
She goes on to say, “As I stated, a main interest in my life is the “ideal of freedom”. I love nature unconditionally and people who truly think outside the box. Honesty, Courage and Respect are so beautiful to me. I like photography and cinema for the strong images and the emotions they invoke. Music, history, science, sport, revolutionary people and anything that makes me dream are of interest to me.
I still dance today; dancing gives an incomparable sensation, a kind of trance that releases the body and spirit simultaneously. Dancing can express beauty, joy or pain; these feelings are unique and priceless. When I create clothes or a free fly suit, dancing helps me to test them as to how comfortable and how they will enable total freedom of movement.”
In the same manner that Chanel freed woman from decades of corset wearing, Klash is determined to inspire woman to be free to explore their “wild side”. She searches for models that will represent her company’s mission statement:
For Those who Love …Dancing on Life & Freedom Dunes of Sand & Oceans, The Magik of Snow White on Summits, The Immense Playing Field …The Sky, Flowers, Volcanoes, Stars, The Sun, Heroes & Heroines, Rebels, Punks, Pirates, Fairies & Elf’s, Free Spirits & Everything Beautiful & Real. MYSTIK REVOLUTION…FOR FREE-MINDED GIRLS!
You can see a representation of all women in the ads and video shorts from Mystik Revolution, bringing about my inquiry as to how Klash went about choosing her models, to which she replies, “When I first start looking for models to present my clothing, I look at their personalities and way of life. What matters to me most is the attitude before the physical features. I like independent, free minded, joyful and courageous woman as my models.”
Klash loves to design clothes for close friend, professional free-style skier and X-Game competitor, Mirjam Jaeger, age 27, from Switzerland. In the United States, it’s another close friend, 21-year-old, Skydiver and BASE jumper Clair Halliday, who has been widely photographed in her Klash designed Free-fly suit for skydivers.
“I’m so glad to know two incredible people who embrace my clothing”, says Klash. They both have fantastic modern-revolutionary personalities; these girls are exceptional and represent what I feel Mystik Revolution is all about. Mirjam and Clair are perfect examples of free-minded woman who are young with strong wills, exceptional athletic skills and physical capabilities while being beautiful inside and outside. In exuding good and compassionate human values they show everything is possible for women in today’s world, they symbolize my creative mission perfectly.”
Klash further states, “I am working on creating fashion inspired by real life and fantastic worlds, embracing freedom, truth, nature, the stars and universe and all things wild.”
I have in the works an artistic short film with great aerial footage shot in the French Alps, mixed with great shots of Clair Halliday performing skydiving in the United States. I am so proud that she accepted to be a part of the project. Clair is a free bird, a mystical quetzal, a beautiful rebel. She is so talented, so courageous and I love the how she is nice, wild, natural and straightforward. The movie project should be ready for the spring of 2010.”
Ms. Klash has been designing clothes since 1985 when she was a mere 14 years of age, selling her first piece in 1995. She says of the first piece she ever designed, “Ha-ha, well, a crop top, in the 80’s…perfect for dancing. I have always worked on my artistic projects even if I did other things in life [to earn an income].”
In speaking with Ms. Klash, one is quick to recognize her as a bit of an eccentric, like many artists, with a natural sense of creativity and vision to see beyond the norm. In her mind, she is not just a fashion designer, but an artist, and says, “An artist is someone who likes to solve a problem, who likes to build things with her (his) own hands, who likes to prove her (himself) technically, but also on a personal level. They use intelligence to find solutions in realizing and materializing what is in her (his) mind. I’ve learned it all on my own and that was not easy, but there is no other way to be an artist.
Also, this is so important to me; an artist believes in freedom and in human values, the artist must “share” in a way, what she (he) has creates with the world. The internal goal and spirit of an artist should be to give to others through art, a kind of poetry with an intention to share some ideal or dream with others.
An artist is naturally against authority, orders and rules. No one can subdue a true artist. An artist shall not be a slave of fashion or any commercial marketing system. An artist does not work for fame, but rather works in the name of art and passion. (to create) Because I live this way, yes I do consider myself an artist.”
Klash says this of her philosophy on fashion design, “I design clothes for free-minded women, citizens of the world, clothes with original cuts, made for freedom and for active girls, very feminine for sport or elegant party and stylish.
To me, it’s all about style. I follow my own tastes and inspirations. What we wear is a way to express ourselves without the use of words.”
In describing the process from the start to the finished product she had this to share, “First I imagine the model in my mind. I imagine a girl in real life wearing it, then I sketch it quickly as I don’t consider that the main work, the pattern, the cut is the real important work. Then I choose the fabric and work on the pattern, testing it with the fabric until I reach the result I want, when it’s all ok, I adjust the pattern a last time. It really depends on how detailed the piece is…no rules (to follow in the process), but at least a few days to make a good pattern and prototype.”
Klash says that her favorite part about creating a design is, “choosing the fabric!!! I can spend hours in a fabric shop or factory.”
This shouldn’t surprise anyone as her designs are all about the freedom of expression and movement. As to the sketching of designs or constructing them, she says, “Sketching is nice, but the satisfaction when I finish a piece is being grateful like solving an enigma.
The best thing about designing clothes is being able to create something that came from my imagination, seeing my work finished and worn by other girls, even years later! It’s a great feeling of joy and it’s exciting.”
She further states, “For me I believe a quality article of clothing comes from, a carefully chosen cut, a nice comfortable fabric, well finished touches and all materials used to make it coming from good factories.”
Her advice to aspiring designers: “Be sure that it’s what you want for real. Be very passionate, believe in themselves, work hard, never give up, always be prepared for self-questioning and stay strong, cause this is not so easy.“
In conclusion I asked this free-spirited woman what she outlined her company goals to be, and she said, “For Mystik Revolution to remain true to working in the name of Art, Passion and Freedom without compromise. Represent and honor the revolutionary people of humanities history and give thanks to people who pushed and are still pushing the human race forward. I hope Mystik Revolution crosses the oceans and faraway lands to be worn and loved by women of all generations, who will be part of this wonderful adventure I have undertaken.”
I can’t help but think that Coco Chanel herself would approve of this revolution; the “little black dress” never looks as good as when it is worn by a woman with self-confidence, especially one designed by a free-spirited artist with a flair for “sensual fabrics”, “adventure” and the “low cut”.
Vive la revolution!