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From Smoke to Sensation: Breathing Life into Fashion with Marie Lueder
NCO 006
2023-03-27
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Marie Lueder, the creative force behind London's innovative fashion brand Lueder, transcends the traditional boundaries of menswear through an exploration of the psychological dimensions of clothing and the evocative power of scent. Established in 2019, Lueder's designs meld the realms of metaphorical armor and ready-to-wear garments, crafting an artistic synthesis between the tangible and the intangible.

Drawing from her diverse background in fashion design and a master's degree in Menswear from the esteemed Royal College of Art, Lueder's signature style emerges through the intricate interplay of knee panels, two-toned denim, and spiral motifs. Her unique approach to design integrates her experiences as a tailor at the Hamburg State Opera, blending creative experimentation and technical expertise.

In this interview, Lueder delves into the significance of her spiral logo, her fascination with the theatrical aspects of fashion, and her commitment to sustainability. She also opens up about her inspiring collaboration with a perfumer, the emotional resonance of scent, and the captivating concept of Synthetic Fire in her collection.

N: Let's start by delving into the symbolism of your spiral logo. It emanates an ancient, almost talismanic aura. Could you share with us the significance and inspiration behind this unique symbol?

M: I’m someone who is very interested in creating gatherings and community so I was looking for a symbol that could represent the idea of individuals connecting and being in proximity with each other. So, I looked into nature and the universe to see how different energies connect.

Hot and cold air creates a spiral shape in smoke or mist, and if you look at a plant from above, the leaves arrange themselves around the twig in a spiral...

this allows them all to exist without casting shade on each other. Nature is also a big inspiration for me so I wanted something that symbolized the connection with Mother Earth that as a society we have kind of lost.

N: Your designs predominantly revolve around streetwear, yet your garments exude a theatrical flair. With your background in tailoring and experience at the Opera, could you elaborate on how these diverse influences converge in your creations?

M: It's interesting that you mention this because I struggled with the choice between costume and fashion after finishing my apprenticeship in the world of opera. At that time, I was more into fine art, but I wanted to train my hands to be effective tools so I could focus on my ideas without worrying about the mechanics.

I then completed three years of classic bespoke tailoring, which was challenging due to the strict hierarchical structure and traditional techniques that I often questioned. After completing my training, I felt ready to focus on my creative vision.

N: Many contemporary fashion trends appear to prioritize what "looks good on Instagram", neglecting the importance of quality construction and long-lasting, well-made garments – it's almost as if "fabric-styling" has replaced true fashion design... How do you feel about this cultural shift?

M: I believe that both types of designs can coexist, but for me, the focus on durability and construction is more exciting. The costumes I worked on in theatre had real character. They were designed to last for decades, with parts being replaced as needed.

I remember ironing clothes that were 20 years old and had absorbed all kinds of sweat and smells, but they were still beautifully made and held together. They weren't fashionable, but they had an incredible, enduring quality that I admired.


N: I understand that you collaborated with a perfumer several years ago, and you've recently re-explored those concepts in your collection, Synthetic Fire. Could you walk us through this fascinating journey from its inception to its current realization?


M: The perfume project I did a while ago was one of the most beautiful experiences I had at the Royal College of Art. I participated in a competition titled "The Future of Perfumes" with sponsorships from the Clarins Group, Mugler and IFF. I was one of the three winners and became allowed to work with one of their trainees: I ended up working with Paul Guerlain.

I was in awe of how smell could evoke such strong emotions, and I believed that perfume should be at the forefront, rather than just an accessory.

The perfume industry in fashion is often seen as almost like a "cash grab", which is a shame because its origins are poetic and romantic.

The people in this field especially are some of the most sensitive, romantic and sentimental people I have ever met.

So, I decided to revisit my old perfume project and integrate it with my new collection. I wanted to create something that allowed people to be overpowered by the scent and transported to a new world. I thought about the name "perfume" which means "through smoke" and came up with the idea of a vape fragrance that could be shared with everyone.

The vape fragrance concept is about creating an object that people could cling to, almost like a baby with a thumb. It's a communal experience where people can gather around and take turns inhaling the scent, connecting them through the shared experience of the fragrance. It embodies the idea of human connection that I'm so passionate about.

Lueder perfume has a unique, enveloping scent. It combines earthy, smoky notes with a hint of sweetness and warmth, evoking the feeling of being around a campfire with friends, sharing stories and laughter under the stars.

N: Tell me more about the name "Synthetic Fire"...

M: For the last collection, I focused on the concept of synthetic fire – something futuristic but hopeful. In a tribe, someone has to keep the fire alive, which allows them to cook and survive. This person, the ambassador of life and goodness, is who I wanted to represent in my collection. We burned the spiral symbol into the soil to signify our presence, and I developed different characters who were all on this journey together, connected through the perfume and the story it tells.

The photoshoot for this collection was a beautiful representation of this idea. We staged it outdoors with a futuristic, tribal atmosphere. The models, were gathered around an artificial, glowing fire, symbolizing the synthetic fire concept. The scene captured the essence of human connection, resilience, and the hope for a better future.

The perfume, with its distinct scent, was the invisible thread connecting everyone in the scene.

All images courtesy of Marie Lueder.

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