In the studio with Yael Landman

Yael Landman is one of Belgium's premiere lingerie designers.  After graduating from fashion school in Paris with a focus in lingerie, Landman worked at Agent Provocateur in London before starting her own line in 2001.  Since then, she has worked with Sonia Rykiel, A.F. Vandevorst and Kiki Montparnasse. Most recently she designed different pieces for Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour and she created a line of couture lingerie dresses. I Love Belgium had the great fortune to sit and chat with Landman about her beginnings, her new line, and what it was like to work with Madonna.

How did you get started in lingerie?

It's not by accident.  Actually I don't remember the moment i decided to actually go to school and learn fashion design because I originally was studying business management here in Brussels.  But lingerie has always been my passion since I was eleven or twelve or something.  I was collecting lingerie when all the girls were playing with dolls or collecting I dont know--papers or dolls.  But yes, I remember after studying three months studying business management in the university I decided to quit.  And I just can't remember the moment i decided to go to paris and learn fashion design and specialize in lingerie.  This is why I went to paris.  Its because they had this specialization in the final year in lingerie.  I was never, you know like Jean-Paul Gaultier used to always tell his story where he was sewing some dresses for his doll or drawing, I wasn't that kind of girl.  So acutally it took me by surprise.  But I always knew I wanted to work in fashion, this was for sure, and that it has something to do with lingerie.

so when you started designing you went straight to lingerie?

Yes.  I mean we had the general years, two years.  And the third year was for lingerie

How would you describe your style?

It's a tricky question!

I've seen little section about it on your website

Even if its written and I've said it,  there's always something new too.  I don't know why.  Every time I explain it, it's always new.  It's difficult to explain it because of course it's not something I thought through.  It's something that comes from me, from the inside.  So my style is, you can say, kind of eccentric, different, unique; very, very feminine.  I mean this is really what interests me in designing, especially in lingerie and also the dresses.  It has to be super feminine because this is really the universe i'm involved in.  I love all the eroticism also since I was a child actually.  I was really attracted to this whole universe.  Yes, it's for women who want to feel exclusive, different, it's a lingerie you don't wear just to forget about it.  You wear it as you wear a beautiful evening gown because you want to feel beautiful, one of a kind, and you want people to see it.  And this is the whole thing about this new lingerie collection I'm working on.  It's really not about hiding it at all.  I mean you can if you want!

Could you tell me a little bit about your new collection that you're working on? if it's not too secret?

Let's see what I can say!  You know it's kind of back to the roots.  It's not a seasonal collection; it will never be.  It's really some stories i'm telling but they will always be there.  It's called "Hello Darkness My Old Friend."  It's the dark side and it is kind of important also to me and it's a real inspiration.  I've been there. I've went out of the dark side but it's still kind of part of me.  It's very rich.  the new collection.. I'm not sure. It's going to have some metal, leather, lace, jewellery, not everything together of course.  But it's gonna be kind of completely different from what you see out there.

How'd you come with the hello darkness my old friend? Because isn't that also a Simon & Garfunkel song and from the Graduate?

Yes, exactly!  One day I woke up and it was there! i love this song, obviously, I love the movie, but its not about the movie.  But yes, one day I just woke up, and it happens to me very often, when I wake up and I have this song in my head. And I had this and I know it was the story I was about to tell.  But yes, of course, the graduate, you can actually relate it with Mrs. Robinson.

How did you come up with the ideas for the dresses? You have the four--

Yes, actually there are five but one wasn't there for the shooting so I will put it online later.  The dresses are all built around lingerie.  So it was a natural process.  As I said, I love the really feminine side and for me it was really natural.  I had them in mind, actually, since I was in school, so it's been quite a long time that I've wanted to do them.  For example, one of the dresses, the red one, "Love Like Blood" is really constructed around the bra.  Everything holds with this bra.  And the others, the skirt is attached to the guêpière, so you know, you can actually not wear the skirt if you don't have the guêpière.  So it's really constructed around the lingerie.

For your works do you have a favorite material that you enjoy using or a color palette?

Yes!  Red, black, leather, metal, lace.

Is there any particular reason?

I think I love the contrast, for example, of the lace and the leather because lace is something super feminine, soft and delicate.  And the leather is kind of rough and I love contrast and I love mixing contrasts.  It's like the metal I'm using, a very cold material.  You won't think of having it in lingerie.  But I love the contrast and the sharp and strong feeling of these fabrics mixed with something very feminine and delicate

What was it like working with the costumes for Madonna?

It was a dream come true!  But actually its a nice story.  I've been a huge fan of Madonna when I was a kid, like really a huge fan.  You see the walls here?  It was all Madonna.  I still have her here!  She's been a big part of my life since I was seven when I first discovered her songs.  Of course, my dream was always to dress her and in 2002, I think it was, my first collection was called Cabaret and i sent her some pieces of the collection.  But I never heard from her.  So I never knew if she got it, if she liked it, maybe it was the wrong size, maybe -I don't know-, maybe she got upset when she received it, I never heard back.  So for ten years I was still, you know, always thinking "Did she get it or not?"  And after ten years she's got this appearance on Saturday Night Live in 2009 with Lady Gaga. And suddenly she turns and I see that she's actually wearing one of the pieces, my guêpière from the Cabaret collection.  So I was super, super excited!  But still, you know, I didn't know how to reach her.  And two months ago, someone from her team from the tour contacted me and told me, "listen Madonna has got this guêpière from your collection and she wants some more for the tour.  So can you please produce it?"  And so this is what did it.  And it was kind of a big mess because the Swarovski stones in this guêpière were made especially for me, but 15 years ago.  So we had to go through the archives; their archives, my archives and find everything to put this back together.  But yeah, it's really exciting.

Is there anyone else you hope to work with or design for?

As an icon?  Actually, nope.  I mean, yes of course, there are some women I admire, but no one got to the level of Madonna.

Besides "Hello Darkness, My Old Friend," are there any other projects that you're working on?

No, this is actually the big project!  Hopefully it will be live in January.  And yes, I am working, of course, on completing the dresses.  There's the lingerie part and the dress part. there will be two additional dresses!  I need to find investors, so this is also a project because I'm self-financed and you know the struggle of it.  On one side it's nice because I have the freedom to do exactly what I want and the timing that I want.  I want everything to be perfect.  The lingerie will not be sold in retail stores.  Its going to be exclusively on private appointments here and abroad.  I want to really have this intimate contact so i'm going to travel with the collection to New York, to Los Angeles, and to Dubai.  And it's going to be made to order so people will be able to customize it, but in a certain way, let's say. Within my universe.  Yes, it's a big thing to set up. 

And we wish you all the best Yael, thank you so much for your time.

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