What we can learn immediately from Sabine, is that the origin of chic does not come from the outside. It must come from within, one must understand oneself and "not give a shit" what other people think. Which is why she’s the perfect guide to this week, but if you’re still not convinced, we decided to give you a run through of her chic credentials, just so you know you’re in safe hands.
Moulded by her upbringing, that was colourfully co-ordinated alongside her interior designer mother Karine Ratl’s extensive collection of pieces from The Memphis Group, Sabine’s own aesthetic is an amalgamation of her early memories of fashion and film imagery that were lived amongst those haphazard and geometric forms - that actually now occupy space in Sabine’s studio come showroom in central London. It is, therefore, no wonder that her most recent collections, “Memphis” and the more affordable “Baby Memphis” borrow the name and style of Ettore Sottsas’ cultural phenomenon.
Sabine’s first collection was reminiscent of 1920’s decadence, mixed in with a modern twist. Which is no doubt an element of what helps Sabine navigate the notion of chic so expertly? Her ability to reimagine the vintage from a different vantage point, and then communicate and physically mould it into the present, via the medium of some of the finest metals and minerals, ensures that each collection she creates exudes a certain quality.
Like a gemstone catches the sunlight, Sabine’s designs instantly enraptured the attention of industry experts, even before she dreamt up the idea of starting her own business. After a chance meeting with a buyer at Maxfield, a collection of luxury boutiques based in Los Angeles, who placed an order from Sabine before her business even had a name, some could say she fell into building her own business, and now five years, a marriage and a daughter later, her designs are latched and clasped onto the limbs and extremities of some of the most familiar names in the creative and entertainment industries - listing Celine Dion and Rihanna, to name a few.
“I have a new high-end collection that is coming out soon” she says, of the line inspired by her daughter, Gene’s toys. “It’s going to be very small, only maybe eight or nine pieces” and is currently set to be available in late January.
So, enough from us. It’s time for you to actually meet your teacher for the week. Pay attention, take notes. We’re sure you’ll ace her end of year exam.
Semaine: Could you tell us a bit about your journey into design?
Sabine: I think it’s difficult for creative people to go through the system of school. I think this happens to a lot of people, so I guess I was one of those. I was really bad at school, always punished, and not following the rules, always studying last minute, cheating - you name it! I think from a very young age, I knew I didn’t want to do something that was square, at all. I wanted to do something very creative, and there were so many creative alleys whether that be design or even theatre, dancing, singing… Design was just the one that stuck. I didn’t really pursue it professionally, but I’d take classes and go to see everything, and performing, dancing and singing was my happiest time, I loved it. For example, you know the 70’s musical Hair? I dragged all of my friends to come and see it like four times in a row and then I wrote a movie about it with choreography that I made up and copied from the play and then I would film it and I would force everyone to get into it and then I would design the flare trousers with flowers and patches on... It wasn’t professional, but it was so fulfilling to do that, as I was growing up.
Semaine: Do you feel like you fell into your love for jewellery?
Sabine: I think I kind of fell into it in the sense that I didn’t grow up wanting to make jewellery or anything like that, there was something about it that was less abstract than all the other things, like singing and dancing and stuff like that. The thing with jewellery is that it is tangible. You have to use metal to make it, you have to use stones and then you have a result. You have a piece of jewellery that you can feel, and it is wearable and usable. There was something that I liked about that. It was a real craft that I was learning and that’s what I liked about it. But it could have been clothing, it could have been other things, but it just so happened that it was jewellery.
Semaine: You describe jewellery as a language. What do you mean by this?
Sabine: When you create something, everything that you’re making is trying to say something. That’s what I mean when I’m saying language, in the sense that there’s nothing else that needs to be added to it. Just looking at a piece of jewellery and touching it and feeling it - it tells you a whole story and you feel something when you put it on.
Semaine: Who are your biggest inspirations and icons, and have they changed over time?
Sabine: The 80’s are a very big part of what I feel connected to and what makes me vibrate. This all comes from things that are stuck in my visual memory from when I was a child. It’s hard to explain because it’s kind of like a visual of my mother's up-dos and crazy big shoulders and red nails and colours, the Memphis design. All of that was printed in my mind and I noticed that I constantly tried to go back to that… Maybe it was an especially happy time or something that I’m always trying to recreate and bring out in my design. Something very colourful and happy and just a bit 80s!
Semaine: Do you find it hard to stay modern but also maintain a classic element to your designs?
Sabine: Yes, but in the sense that I’m not very modern, like literally two days ago I was in a vintage store and there were all these incredible Yves Saint Laurent pieces. I put them on and I find them so fabulous and then I notice that it’s, you know, huge shoulders, coloured fabrics, very heavy in print and it’s very significant of a time that is not today, so my only way to live in both worlds is to be wearing those Yves Saint Laurent pieces with jeans or Supergas. For me, modernity is comfort, and chic is elegance. It’s a form of innate elegance and Yves Saint Laurent is all about that. That’s one of the best ways to describe it, an Yves Saint Laurent jacket and jeans, for me that’s chic and modern at the same time.
Semaine: Who are your chic icons?
Sabine: For me, there is no one more chic than Catherine Deneuve, and I think if you were to tell her that, it would piss her off so much… That’s what’s so chic about her. She really doesn’t give a shit, and that’s why I love her so much. She’s super chic and she really doesn’t care to be that.
Semaine: Is this a something that you take into your own designs, especially when creating new collections?
Sabine: No, not at all, and it’s not even thought about. I’m just going to create something that I feel like creating or wearing. Or if I think “Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if something like that existed” and chic is not something you can fabricate. It’s always either there or not there.
Semaine: For you, jewellery design stuck, but what advice do you have for those who haven’t yet figured out their creative calling?
Sabine: I would say, focus on your lane. Don’t look left or right too much, just do you. And also don’t limit yourself at just one thing, people are so multi-talented and it’s so annoying to see people just pursuing one thing, if you’re a creative person, you can be creative in many fields, so just go for it!
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.