Paris Fashion Week is a world-famous event that is important to all fashion-savvy enthusiasts. But even the most iconic fashion brands in the history of fashion had to start somewhere. Even Coco Chanel came from a modest background, with her mother working as a laundry woman and her father as a street vendor.
Many fashion legends began their incredible journey in modest ateliers tucked away in the backstreets of this beautiful city. And so, we head off-piste in this exclusive interview with Dominique Jullien, the mastermind behind emerging Parisian label DJ Code, taking a peak inside her atelier and asking about the inspiration behind her colourful urban chic streetwear creations.
“I had the chance to start my first collection thanks to a young designers’ association called Catalyse in 2001. The association helped me to set up my first fashion show in Hotel Beaujon. That was a place where you could meet fashion designers, creators, photographers and musicians – a mixed place of exchange and sharing, and networking,” says Dominique.
Paris is the perfect city to launch a career in fashion, mainly because there are so many organisations and associations working tirelessly to bring this art form to the fore of Parisian culture. But also because there are so many opportunities for networking with industry professionals during fashion house openings, launch events and social gatherings.
“Today, Paris welcomes lots of new venues such as Premiere Vision at the Carreau du Temple, and temporary pop-up stores such as La Fabrique du Père Noël in Le Marais, and Hotel Villa Bohème in south Pigalle. These places are giving the chance for many designers producing items exclusively ‘made in France’ to showcase their talent.”
The main reason why young designers choose to launch a career in fashion in this city though, usually comes down to the fact that Paris offers some of the most prestigious places to study design, with each institution having helpful links that open doors to the fashion world.
Dominique studied at several fashion schools in Paris before setting up her own label, learning styling and model-making in the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, before embarking on a series of traineeships for established designers including Veronique Leroy, Mariot Chanet, and Tom Ford, honing her expertise à la française with Franck Sorbier.
Dominique now works in her own studio in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, near Pigalle and close to the lively Rue des Martyrs. She has stayed in Paris to develop her creations because she finds the city to be bursting with inspiration. “Each day, inspiration is at my door, on the corner of the street where I live: it’s a permanent show where I find all I need to create,” she says.
Since her atelier is nestled next to a string of famous concert halls such as La Cigale and Le Divan du Monde, Le Trianon and Elysée Montmartre, as well as La Boule Noire and La Machine du Moulin Rouge, she cites the bustling music scene in Paris to be particularly inspirational for her work. “I love watching live music being performed. At the moment I am creating clothes for musicians such as Maylin & the Mad Machine and cabaret dancers.”
The cinema scene in Paris is unrivalled, and Dominique also has the chance to venture into cinema. “I have participated in a few movies, such as Guy Mazarguil’s L’Art de Séduire, with Mathieu Demy, Valérie Donzelli and Julie Gayet. My studio is turning into a different place each day, welcoming these characters who are looking for fancy accessories and clothes. I am supporting them with their research.”
Dominique is currently working on developing a collection of leggings with humorous, bold animal prints. “My first motivation is to choose comfortable fabrics while also respecting an ecological agenda; I am working with G.O.T.S (Global Organic Textile Standard) fabrics, which indicate where the fabric comes from and exactly what it is comprised of.” She is also creating small collections of jewellery.
“I like to choose unusual places for my photoshoots,” says Dominique. Very often I feel inspired when I take a walk on Sundays, as you can rediscover Paris again and again. One of my favourite walks is along the disused tracks called la petite ceinture. This means ‘the small belt’, like a fashion accessory! This place is full of artists, photographers and people out for a stroll who are all meeting up for a coffee or a meal, or to go to a party or a concert in the renovated old train station. It’s such an energetic place.”
You can discover more of DJ Code’s creations here.