La Petite Mort - Craftsmanship, humanity and the freedom of movement

Stella Saastamoinen

Stella Saastamoinen

La Petite Mort is a French-Peruvian fashion brand with strong sustainable values and unique clothing that gets your streetstyle look to a new level. We had a chat with Andrea Sanabria Oviedo, who's the amazing woman behind this brand!

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

Super soft alpaca wool and high quality pima cotton, craftsmanship with long traditions, humanity, simplicity, and the freedom of movement are the key elements that create the pieces of the French-Peruvian La Petite Mort. This ethical fashion brand designs fair and sustainable, unisex streetwear basics with touch of cultural elements from both sides of the Atlantic ocean. The brand's style combines elements from urban and cool living and turns them into minimalistic and comfortable pieces of accessories and clothing that tell you stories.

The brand's name, La Petite Mort ,"the little death" origins from an old French expression used to address a post-orgasmic state of ecstasy, a brief loss of consciousness, also compared to a spiritual release. It refers to a free state of mind where we feel no need, no pain, no joy, no boundaries, just transcendence. The simple idea behind this expression is one of the inspirations behind La Petite Mort's existence.

La Petite Mort approaches creating fashion from a contemporary angle, where quality, the origin and the treatment of raw materials throughout the procedures are one of the most influential values. We got to interview Andrea Sanabria Oviedo, the talented super woman behind this streetwear cool brand. Read the interview below and learn about La Petite Mort's origin and values and get a glimpse of the coming SS18 collection!

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

Andrea Sanabria Oviedo, the designer of La Petite Mort, how was your brand born?

La Petite Mort is a result of many years of traveling, studies and meet-ups. The idea was there building up, mutating, getting richer. I can't say precisely how it was born as it came very naturally. I learned this very old French expression several years ago, when I was just a student in Peru. I fell in love with its many readings and with one in particular, the idea of ecstasy, a particular connection, liberation. I didn’t know at the time that it was going to translate into a fashion brand.

Around 2015, when I was already settled in Paris, I noticed that many European brands were sourcing their fibers and manufacturers from South America. In fact, the exchanges between Europe and South America were many and through different industries. However, the cultural dialogue was rare and often remained within stereotypes. I decided then that I wanted to work with the native fibers and artisans to put in value our know-how, out of the cliché.

Also, in the beginning, the brand was not meant to have an environmental focus. I was just aiming to work with top quality fibers, but turns out the best are natural (shocker). As I went further with my research I learned more about sustainable fashion and social entrepreneurship. I figured, since I was starting, why stay at good if it can be awesome?

All of these sort of came together to build up La Petite Mort. Ever since, I try to work with cultural codes from both sides of the Atlantic.

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

What values are you incorporating into your design?

Humanity and craftsmanship were my original base. I really like to add handmade details to every piece, even when small or almost imperceptible; they are unique and imperfect. This is a constant reminder that there is somebody behind that piece of garment. I wanted to put into value the artisan skills and the beauty of their work, but I also wanted to remind people that behind every tiny detail and the most simplest things is somebody’s time and dedication. Hopefully this thought will inspire them to respect and care for their clothing, maybe even ask about who made it!

Along came the environmental aspect. Once I learned about the life cycle of clothing and a bit about the circular economy, I put my efforts into designing pieces that could be easily recyclable. I ended up conceiving pieces that were suitable even for composting. The quality, the origin and the treatment of raw materials throughout the procedures became one of the main values of the brand.   

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

We think that it’s wonderful that your materials are not only luxurious and natural but also fair and sustainable! How do you source them? Is the process difficult?

I did about a year of research and testing with different suppliers only for organic cotton qualities! The natural materials I was more familiar with at the time were cotton, sheep and alpaca wool. Though all of these are natural, there are many qualities and blends available. Finally, I decided to work only with babyalpaca and pima cotton.

My first concern was the material's feeling towards the skin. I am a very tactile person and always have been very picky when it comes to fabrics and wool. Lucky for me, the Peruvian coast grows one of the finest cotton qualities in the World and the country has a very long history of textile tradition. I had the advantage of proximity and language but most importantly, I had the advantage of knowing the culture.

I know many Latin suppliers tend to be informal, late on their deliveries and what we call ”criollo” (always trying to get and extra advantage), so not only did I decide to work with long established suppliers for my raw materials but also demanded for certifications and visits to their installations. It took me time, but now I’m sure of who is working for me and I’ve learn a lot about procedures and treatment of raw materials. For example, now I always demand my cotton to be pre-washed (to avoid shrinking), but this I learned the hard the way.

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

Where does your inspiration come from?

From every random place possible, sometimes while really sitting on my desk doing drafts and looking at books, sometimes while looking at the walls in a church, or while watching a music video. For example, I saw a dancer on a video once (a bad music video) but seeing her move eventually created the dress coming out this season. Inspiration can be anything, small or complex, but I always translate it to the codes I’ve chosen for the brand: simplicity & freedom of movement.

What is your view on the modern fashion world?

There is a lot of good and bad, as always; a lot of honest great design and a lot of the same, as well as a lot of green washing. Marketing is still very powerful and it can overshadow creativity. What I find great, however, is that there are a lot of styles, trends and possibilities coexisting. There are less rules and there is no “wrong” or “right”. Finally the time of the “fashion police” is over, there is more space for experimentation and consumers are taking over social media to express, share and even participate in creation. The possibilities of interaction are amazing.

Photo: Raul Guillermo for La Petite Mort SS18

What is your current favourite piece from your own brand?

The Nila top! A new piece from the SS18 collection. It’s a hand-knitted see-through cotton top. It’s super comfy and sexy while remaining overall clean in aesthetics. Again, little details, like the contrast in the knitwork from the lower to the upper side is what makes the piece. Also, I named this top after my main knitter in Barranco, because she’s amazing!

Thank you so much Andrea, we're very excited for the coming SS18 collection!

See all of the La Petite Mort pieces on their IVALO-profile and look into their chic pieces!

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Stella Saastamoinen

Stella Saastamoinen

Content Creator

stella@ivalo.com

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