Designer Spotlight: Interview with Judith Milgrom, designer and co-founder of Maje

Designer Spotlight: Interview with Judith Milgrom, designer and co-founder of Maje

Ready-to-wear maestro

Text: Andrea Sim

Image: Maje

How to achieve Parisian chic à la Maje, according to Judith Milgrom

Wander along the cozy streets of Le Marais in Paris and it's impossible not to stumble upon a Maje boutique. With three locations within that singular district itself, the ubiquitous French label that is usually shacked up with the two other brands of its kind, Sandro and Iro, has recently docked on our shores for the very first time.

But, it's not just an air of effortlessness stemming from their French roots that these labels have in common. Judith Milgrom née Moyal — the co-founder and designer behind Maje's refined essentials with a bohemian twist — is sister to Evelyne Chétrite, founder and womenswear designer of Sandro. 

As the Moyal design powerhouses have so clearly perfected the recipe to ready-to-wear success, we pick Milgrom's brain on the modern woman's fashion needs and the formula to dressing like a quintessential French girl.  

Maje stands for the members of my family: M for my maiden name Moyal, A for my brother and co-founder alain, J for Judith, and E for my sister Evelyne.

Tell us how your love for fashion began, and how it extended into a career?
It started as far back as I can remember. I have always loved and evolved in the fashion universe. It motivated me and I believe that deep down my dearest dream was to create my own brand. My mother and grandmother always made everything themselves, from bread to curtains and clothes, which developed my passion for everything handmade. From a very early age, I started making dresses for my dolls from my grandmother's scrap fabrics. I also remember stealing my grandfather's shirt to customise it! This was the first time I ever wore one of my creations. 

Can you describe Maje's aesthetic in three words?
It's difficult to describe it in three words, but I would say: Glamorous and Parisian cool. 

Why the name Maje? What does it mean?
My family has always been my anchor and the most important thing in my life. Maje stands for the members of my family: M for my maiden name Moyal, A for my brother and co-founder Alain, J for Judith, and E for my sister Evelyne. 

What do you think makes Maje different from high fashion and high street brands out there?
Maje offers women the latest runway fashion at an affordable price. The collections have all the trendy, fun and cool pieces that high street fashion offers, yet there are desirable and glamorous details or embellishments that differentiate us from the fast fashion brands.

What was the inspiration behind your fall/winter 2015 collection?
The FW15 collection was inspired by an urban woman who needs structured pieces for work, as well as cocooning and comfortable pieces for home. The collection has long coats and oversized ponchos, as well as fringed leather skirts and embellished shirts.

What is on your Maje FW15 shopping wish list?
The fringed leather Jawa skirt for an original evening outfit and the oversized ponchos (Magrit, Mexico, Eagle) for a relaxed day at home or walking around the city in the cold.

What is your approach to fashion for the brand like? Is it same approach you apply to your personal style?
Yes, it is the same. I want it to be easy to wear, comfortable and chic. 

You're originally from Morocco. Has your connection with the culture influenced the way you design?
As mentioned, the women in my family made everything they owned by hand and this developed my love for craftsmanship. I still think about this when I create my collection, especially with the first samples which are all made in the ateliers here in my office. I believe the bohemian details of my early collections stemmed from my Moroccan roots.

Maje has finally opened its first boutique in Singapore. Why did you decide to expand into the Southeast Asian market?
Asia is an important territory for our business. It is very powerful and Singapore is a key part of the Asian market.

What can Singaporean women expect when shopping at Maje? Do you have any valuable shopping advice you can share with them before they head to the store to shop?
We hope they will be happy to find different pieces and looks that fit their silhouettes and styles. They will be able to find perfect outfits for daytime as well as evening parties, and all the necessary accessories to go with them.

What do you think the modern day woman is looking for in fashion today?
I think she is looking for easy yet super trendy pieces that can be worn at the office as well as on other occasions. I believe she also wants to find original pieces that she won't necessarily see everywhere else.

What do you think every woman should always have in her wardrobe?
It comes down to chic, timeless basics mixed with trendy pieces and beautiful accessories. A well-fitted blazer, a white cotton shirt, a well-cut pair of pants or jeans, a leather biker jacket or leggings, and, a cashmere sweater. 

Women around the world are obsessed with the French style. What is your formula to achieving Parisian chic?
The French woman is known worldwide for her chic and sophisticated yet relaxed style. Parisian chic is discrete and refined by definition. French style is based on non-ostentatious basics, highlighted by staple accessories. It is concrete and centered around these specific fashion codes.

Shop Maje online here and at B2-109, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.