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What If I Fly - In Conversation with Fashion Artist Carmen Matefi

What If I Fly - In Conversation with Fashion Artist Carmen Matefi

Imagine the finest silk garment, weightlessly hanging in space...soft sepia tones, delicate beadwork and faded fine art imagery.

These are some of the treasures to uncover when you experience the heartfelt work of Carmen Matefi, a Paris based fashion artist with a infinite imagination and an impeccable eye for detail. 

 Silk print, hand embroidered kimono inspired by art deco window panes - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Silk print, hand embroidered kimono inspired by art deco window panes - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

At first glance Matefi's latest project 'What if i Fly'  draws us in through its seductive symbolism and story telling whilst her use of muted sepia tones whisks us off to a dream world where time stands still. 

Highly emotive yet sophisticated and intellectual 'What If I Fly' explores the inner feelings of a woman through materials, art and dreams.

 Mood collage - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Mood collage - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi


During her recent exhibit at Paris Interfiliere, Tactile Trends had the opportunity to speak to Carmen Matefi. Below you can join us as we ask Carmen about her the inspirations, design process and what's next...


Tactile Trends: From classical and jazz ballet to painting and literature, how has your background in the arts shaped you as a designer?

Carmen: As a dancer, I learned that to convey an emotion with a movement, to be natural and show freedom, you need comfort, softness and an amazing touch on your body.

As a painter and designer, I realized that wearable art gives endless possibilities to create minimalist, modern garments with uniqueness that can carry emotions.

Why should I only hang my paintings on the wall when I can wear them?
— Carmen Matefi

I am a fiend of books and reading. I am studying and developing ideas around human needs in our corporate world. The goal of my art is to show the contrast of the woman, the fragility and strength, to keep the balance, staying feminine and remaining a dreamer.

I wrote many poems in the past and I strongly believe that women need dreams in their life. We need dreams to be stronger. We need dreams to be real.

Tactile Trends: Your work has a strong story telling aspect. How does this evolve through your research and design process?

Carmen: When I am creating, I am following an idea, a dream. My goal is to make this dream touchable and to bring it to life.

I am always trying to infuse emotions and feelings into my work and there are always stories behind.

 Silk print,  hand embroidered kimono with high waisted brief - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Silk print,  hand embroidered kimono with high waisted brief - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Tactile Trends: You worked with Chanel groups embroidery atelier ‘Maison Lesage’. How has that experience influenced the way you work with materials, particularly embroidery?

Carmen: I chose a very difficult fabric to work with, especially for embroidery. My material was very fragile - transparent silk georgette - and I worked directly on the fabric.

I added beads next to my embroidery motif and I had to pay a close attention to not create something too heavy in the end.

I choose the finest threads and small miyuki beads in order to achieve a very delicate result with my embroideries.

 Close up of hand embroidery and beadwork swan on silk -  'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Close up of hand embroidery and beadwork swan on silk -  'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Thanks to this, I learned how to work very precisely on the most delicate fabrics and materials.

I am particularly meticulous and conscientious. Every detail counts. For example, the position of the embroidery on my own designed textile: my bird motif “kissed” the lady on my print.

 Close up of hand embroidery and beadwork swan on silk -  'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Close up of hand embroidery and beadwork swan on silk -  'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Tactile Trends: In your project ‘What if I Fly’ you explore the inner feelings of a woman through luxurious fabrics and finishes. What kind of fabrics did you choose and how do you think they can influence a woman’s emotional state?

Carmen: I strongly believe that silk is the finest fabric, especially for lingerie. Lingerie is in direct and permanent contact with the skin.

My concept is to create pieces that are extremely soft and delicate so that, when you wear it, you don’t feel anything on your body.

It is a kind of protection from the harsh reality and the stress we are constantly facing in our daily lives.

 Printed silk slip with hand embroidery and beadwork - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Printed silk slip with hand embroidery and beadwork - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Underwear (which is hidden) can give us self-confidence and care, reminding us that we are fragile humans who are capable to do amazing things.

 Printed silk gown and panelled body suit - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Printed silk gown and panelled body suit - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Tactile Trends: In ‘What if I Fly’ you draw inspiration from art deco window panes to hand make unique embroidery motifs. Tell us about this inspiration trail, how were you drawn to art deco window panes and how did you translate that into fabric and embroidery?

Carmen: As I talked about it earlier, my collection is about inner feelings. I was always experimenting with light and shadows, how a naked body can reflect lights and motifs.

Windows are also a symbol, how and how much a woman would like to open herself into the world. I found a beautiful art deco glass window and I developed the motif (drawing by hand). I placed it on the front of my kimono and I made the opening with 2 hand-made macramé buttons.

I used transparent silk in order to reach the window effect and being able to create art on the body.

My motif is a swan with wings and also a snake. The snake is here to express all my darkest memories and to put in my mind that I can transform and use them to create something great, unique and to grow stronger.

 Close up of print on silk, inspired by art deco window panes - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Close up of print on silk, inspired by art deco window panes - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Tactile Trends: You are great at telling stories! Tell us about someone, somewhere or something that inspired you recently…

Carmen: Recently I saw Chagall’s museum in Nice. I was very inspired by his flying figures and beautiful stories on the canvas. I am thinking about creating new prints 'in collaboration with him' since then.

 Silk gown, bra and high waisted brief - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Silk gown, bra and high waisted brief - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Tactile Trends: What kind of materials are you working with at the moment and how would you like to see your work evolve in the future?

Carmen: I am experimenting with the finest embroideries from the oldest manufacturer (specially from Switzerland). Their heritage and traditions inspired me to translate it into the modern lingerie wardrobe. I am creating non padded, super soft lingerie pieces at the moment.

In the future my main focus point will be also lingerie and textile design with new artworks and always with an amazing touch and comfort.

 Silk gown - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Silk gown - 'What if i Fly' by Carmen Matefi

Carmen Matefi represents a breed of designers that are looking to human needs to tell a story instead of products. In an increasingly saturated market it is the designer who understands people that will succeed.

To learn more about Carmen Matefi's work you can visit her website here.

People around me, how they live, love and express themselves inspire me a lot. Paris is such a great city to observe people and their daily lives.
— Carmen Matefi
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Photo Diary: Journey Through Omalos

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Photo Diary: Dawn Mist