A label under the Ethnicraft Group, Notre Monde is the sophisticated and well traveled, yet down-to-earth sister brand that seems to march to the cheerful beat of her own drum. The elegant brand draws inspiration from artist and creator, Dawn Sweitzer’s life and travels, as well as nature and the simple pleasures in life.
Notre Monde pieces are full of complexities. They are refined, yet their small details are evocative of nature. The tray tables could be streamlined and contemporary, yet the mirror surfaces are aged, giving the unique pieces a slightly vintage feel. For such a multifaceted label, a discerning eye is necessary to translate its intricacies in visual form.
Enter Wim Van Vossele. The polished yet rugged stylist, with 25 years of styling experience under his belt, is the eye behind the Fall/Winter ’17 Notre Monde photoshoot. Also responsible for styling the brand’s booth at the recent Maison & Objet Paris, Wim has an innate ability to expertly transform blank spaces into whimsical universes, taking observers into a world unique to the brand.
Here, Wim shares his insight on Notre Monde’s brand identity, his styling process and his realized vision for Notre Monde’s booth at the most recent Maison & Objet Paris.
Hello, Wim. How were you first introduced to Notre Monde? How did you start working for the brand?
I met one of the founders of the brand, Philippe Delaisse at High Point Market, a home furnishing trade show where Notre Monde took a part of, while I was styling for a European company specializing in antiques and lighting. I was subsequently introduced to the artist behind the Notre Monde brand, Dawn Sweitzer, in her studio. Her life and work inspired me immediately! Philippe felt there was a match between Notre Monde and my creativity. In a short period of time, Notre Monde became very successful, so they needed someone to translate their ideas and personalize the brand.
You are the first stylist working for Notre Monde. What was the very first project you worked on?
I had to start from scratch. I explored Dawn’s life, artwork and inspiration, along with Notre Monde products, of course. My first assignment was styling a photo shoot. As I have a passion for unique locations, we ended up shooting in an old, abandoned theater. I added some basic styling elements, such as branches and a bit of greenery—totally Dawn’s style. The combination of these elements really set the brand’s identity.
You styled the latest Fall/Winter ’17 catalog. Could you tell us a little bit about your experience working on this project?
I decided to aim high! I wanted the same atmosphere as the theater and found a magnificent location in Normandy, France. This time, it was an abandoned castle. All the elements were there: beautiful patinas on the walls, huge windows, marble floors and a dominant staircase. The goal was to bring real life into the castle by creating a bathroom, living rooms and an office space furnished with Notre Monde pieces.
In order to create the quintessential Notre Monde atmosphere, I used a mixture of vintage and new pieces, and customized some of the styling elements. It was great to visit flea markets and find unique objects. I also had a lot of fun working with my partner who made pillows using Dries Van Noten fabrics. The result was a midcentury-inspired setting with a bit of rustic elegance. I was very happy with the end result.
What elements do you have to have when styling? What can’t you style without?
I need to have flowers and branches. Nature is very important in my work.
You were also in charge of styling for Notre Monde’s booth for the most recent Maison & Objet Paris. Could you tell us about what you did for the booth?
The idea was to replicate the vibe we created in the castle for the Fall/Winter ’17 catalog. One specific image during the shoot stood out: great patina on the walls combined with a bright blue sofa and of course Notre Monde’s Fall/Winter ‘17 novelties. This would be our front view in the busiest corridors of Paris!
Next to this, I also wanted to create a clean and dark atmosphere, which could be seen in the inside of the booth. The goal was to show Notre Monde’s items in a modern yet vintage vibe. It perfectly translated the versality of the products.
Aside from Notre Monde, do you work on any other projects?
Yes, I still work as a fashion stylist. I love to combine different styles in such a way where the outcome is unique and coherent. My own personal style is rather neutral and clean, yet at the same time, I am inspired by colors and materials. My styling work can be very clean or very theatrical.
Have you always been involved in fashion?
I was born and raised in a fashion environment. I have worked in the fashion industry for more than 25 years.
Finally, what do you have in mind for future Notre Monde projects?
I have lots of ideas! My next project will complement what we did until now. But I’ll keep it as a secret for now. Let me surprise you!