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Delphine Quirin - A stitch with a difference Fashion - 12 November 2015

© Delphine Quirin

Her open laugh often resounds when she is talking about herself. As if to apologise for a journey in which simplicity is only equalled by authenticity. Spontaneous, just like her collections, Delphine Quirin sells her hats in fine French, English and Japanese shops - but receives her calls on a landline. She has resisted the lures of the mobile telephone, the ultimate retro fashion accessory of ladies wearing hats.

"I have never really been logical. I am a very anxious person; if I think too long about something, it no longer happens." Things therefore fell into place bit by bit for Delphine Quirin. Following her intuition. "But working, oh yes!" she slips in with a burst of laughter. In fact, in listening to her, you could almost think that the huge success of her collection of wacky hats has something to do with this open and communicative laugh. Like her. Without frills. You could be tempted to say "Liège-style" if this was not a slight cliché.

In short, this graduate in the history of "contemporary art, I am not very archaeologically-minded"  has a little direct something that matches her designs, slightly revamped hats and elegantly enhanced headbands. And her story is exactly the same, without hassle. But not without discipline. Having always been an enthusiast for costumes and hats, the young woman, a fan of sewing, enrols in evening millinery courses after her studies and seven months travelling in South America. "It was marvellous, those hats that seemed impossible to produce very quickly became very easy." Obviousness and ease. The project is launched. We are in 1996. Her 'small business' was then a home workshop where she entertained her customers for bespoke items, weddings and significant occasions. "But after a while, I felt like I was going round in circles. I focused on wool that was easier to use in constructing the hat from beginning to end, its shapes, its prints and so on. And I was frustrated by being restricted to designs for special occasions only. I wished to make the hat an everyday item."  And so the young woman searched - for materials - basically wool - and techniques. Until this decisive encounter with Louisette. Precious Louisette who had been sewing with a machine forever. Louisette who was to "pass on" all her priceless know-how. And then, in 2000, there were salons in Paris and especially the Bon Marché order for items - which has been following her ever since. "At the time, if I had known what I was letting myself in for, I would not have done it.  But there I was, not very professional, with a collection of sixteen items, in turquoise only." But there was without doubt something pleasing in this presentation truth. "It was impossible to lie with a good shoot or a pretty package. My product was there and spoke for itself." 

The adventure has continued internationally. With sometimes heartbreaking choices made necessary by the sheer scale.  Abandon the bespoke (she is gradually starting this again - Editor's note) to focus on the collections. "There were two different dynamics. You have to be 100% there for the person who is seeking advice on a bespoke item. And I was interrupted by telephone calls that were equally important for the collections to be delivered." Closure of her shop to work at the pace she follows today - winter collection, Spring salons - and opening the workshop to her customers at year end. Lastly, the ultimate positioning, turning down Anthropology for too large an order and transferring the production to it for a collection. "I am happy to have been able to set my limits. I was able to see just how far I could go. The craft dimension of my work is essential", slips in the designer, who manufactures most of her creations herself.  Knowing how to set her limits, surrounding herself with great support - her mother deals with the administration - and never losing the line of authenticity that is her hallmark. It is the winning combination of Delphine Quirin who years before the increasing popularity of authenticity in the kingdom of lifestyle led the way in total simplicity. Which is what makes her so strong today. Hats off to her!

By Isabelle Plumhans 

© Delphine Quirin

© Delphine Quirin

© Delphine Quirin

© Delphine Quirin

© Delphine Quirin

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