Meet the founder of Les Fleurs Studio: María Bernad
Raised in the Spanish countryside by two nature-loving “hippies”, María Bernad was raised with an appreciation for nature that’s carried into her creative & professional endeavors years later.
After studying fashion design and learning about the industry’s major environmental impact, she was inspired to create an outlet that promotes sustainable consumption and sheds light on eco-friendly creatives — and so, Les Fleurs Studio was born.
An up-and-coming creative space, Les Fleurs Studio is run but a small team of three and features only 15 designers, each with a distinct commitment through sustainability that shines thru upcycled materials, timeless pieces, and high-quality materials that last like leather and silk. María is just getting started tho, and plans to expand the studio’s impact in the fashion industry asap — scroll to read our chat on how she started & where she plans on going.
Describe yourself in one tweet.
"I'm very impulsive, and at the same time I'm very eclectic — it's a conflict, because I'm also very structured. I’m an organized artist, a good mix of workaholic and a bit crazy."
The inspirations behind me are very natural in terms of loving the countryside, loving the sea — I have a very big connection with nature because I grew up in the countryside with my family in Spain. At the same time, I've been traveling by motorhome since I was a baby, so it’s been very nice to discover different places since I was a kid through a different kind of way to travel. I slept in this traveling bed with my parents and I think that influenced me like a lot, because I have a very open mind for everything that I do. At the same time I think it's culture — you meet many different people and go to many different places.
It all came together. My mom and I started the brand in Alicante while I was studying fashion design, I felt like I needed something more beyond simply studying fashion. That's when I decided to create Les Fleurs, and I think like the best way to work is working with something that you like. Suddenly, people liked the brand and I was like "Oh, this is great!", people do actually understand what I'm doing, because at the time it was a pretty different concept. I was doing something that was coming from inside me, 100%, and thinking that I needed to start doing it professionally.
That’s when my perspective started to shift a bit, because as I was doing Les Fleurs, I was learning a lot about sustainability. I studied fashion design, but I became so interested in studying sustainability. My mindset and perspective on not only buying clothes but on living everyday life was focusing more and more on acting sustainably. At the time I was working in social media, I was working in fashion, and I was modeling, and I was a stylist — and I decided that I really wanted to do Les Fleurs because it was everything that I loved in one project like design, fashion, and art. I studied art history for one year at university and then changed to fashion design, but I still liked studying art history by myself. I’m really happy that building Les Fleurs is what I decided to do, because it’s everything that I love in one project — for me, working on something you love doesn’t feel like work at all.
I grew up in the countryside and my mom and my dad are really into nature. My dad especially, I call him a hippie sometimes because he loves nature, loves being in the sea, and travels to all these beautiful natural places in the motorhome. In my household, we always try to find the best solutions to live.
"When I started studying fashion design, I understood that fashion is the second most environmentally contaminating industry."
When you’re studying fashion and that’s one of the first things you learn, you're like, "Oh! I'm working in this industry, which is one of the worst things in the world in terms of sustainability.", so you start being interested in different ways to work. There's not only one way to create in the industry, you can take many different paths in fashion, and there's so much to do in terms of sustainability.
"I came to the decision that this is the path I’ll go down, because for me there is no other way, we cannot keep producing more and more and more. It's the opposite mindset of what I grew up with."
Through social media I'm able to meet a lot of people in fashion who I’ve learned a lot from. I've gotten to know a lot of designers who make really cool work, but some of them don't care about the other part, the ethical one. But you can also meet a lot of people working in fashion who create cool products with cool aesthetics, and at the same time they're conscious about what's going around in the world. You need to know what is happening around you, this is a global problem right now.
"We cannot close our eyes and say sustainability “isn’t for me.” It is for you , it's happening around you so you need to be conscious of that."
Lots and lots. Before creating Les Fleurs Studio, I had just turned 25 and I had a mini-breakdown. I was like, "Oh my God, that's 25! I’m not a kid anymore!", I started what I’ve been doing in the last two years, working a lot on fashion week, working a lot on social media and creating Les Fleurs. But I kept thinking how it was just a brand, not something that can change the world. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue down the path. I asked myself if I was happy because I was traveling a lot, and when you’re traveling and working a lot, sometimes you don't even have time to see your family or friends. I was asking myself, "I am happy?" and realized that I was not happy at all. Even if you have everything in material terms, there are things beyond that which are more important than anything. For me it’s my family, and I realized I had gone three whole months without seeing them, because I'm living in Paris. I realized I had the power to exist in my own terms more, and I was not using it. That’s why at some point I set myself on doing something more. I said I was going to create a huge platform for only upcycling designers and vintage stores — Because at the I was working in social media and getting a lot of messages of people saying "I have a brand." and whatever. I was seeing so much rewashing that I was angry. I was getting emails with messages like, "Yeah, we are using recycled content!", and then you see the production is in China. So I’d be like okay, you're like a brand from France using recycled materials, you're calling yourself sustainable but then outsourcing production to China. It made me angry and I felt like I needed to do something, because all these brands claiming to be sustainable weren’t actually at all. That’s why I decided to continue with Les Fleurs, but also develop like a platform for like minded brands, because I was also seeing work from people like me. Amazing brands that really put upcycling at the front of their fashion. I wanted to put everyone together on the same platform.
It’s been super interesting, to meet all these people with amazing minds. I feel so lucky at the same time, because everyone that I’ve met has been super nice and super excited about what we’re doing, even if they didn’t have much money or many resources. I found myself between calls with these designers that I grew to know, chatting on FaceTime with everyone, having super interesting conversations about art history and design with incredibly nice and interesting people. After my 25th birthday, I was like,"Wow, like this is a change!", and it was a change I needed because I decided to do this and I'm so happy about it.
Les Fleurs Studio is little league, we're so small, basically less than 4 people. It’s a project I tried out to see if it would go well, if it was something I’d be happy with. Right now I'm developing like a big studio for Les Fleurs, we feature around 15 designers but we are planning on growing to around 40. I'm developing a big studio to feature creative work, photography — that’s what I’m working on right now. I'm also working as a stylist of course, in Paris. Les Fleurs Studio was in Spain when I started it, because it was an easy location for me, but right now we are planning to move to Paris and it's a big step. It's going to change everything, and I'm so excited about it. At the same time, and this is something I haven’t talked about much, I'm developing a book. It’ll be a Les Fleurs Studio book, which is a project I just started but I'm super happy about, because it's a super cool artistic project between artists and designers.
Something most people don’t know is that I love dancing, I've been a ballet and contemporary dancer since I was young and I still dance at home. It's my kind of workout, I just love it and it's not like something that I'm doing professionally but I love everything around it. However, for me, I think art is my main real love. I decided to study art history when I was younger, it was my dream to work in a museum and even today, if I could change everything and work in a museum I would probably do it. Now it's just a hobby, I love to paint, I love to study art. I keep it for me, because I think we need to keep things just for us outside of work. It's like dancing, it relaxes me. I'm working with some art galleries in Paris, but I'm doing it out of love for art.
Complete the sentence "One day I will..."
have a château in the countryside.
When I was studying history of fashion in university, I had a super cool teacher that I loved, and she was obsessed with the 17th and 18th century. She made all these connections between paintings in the 17th and 18th century and the clothing of the period. At the same time, my favorite films that were made in the 80s had strong 17th century and 18th century aesthetics, and I’ve had a very big connection with that period ever since. I have tattoos of the 17th and the 18th century, because it's a really big inspiration for me — everything that I'm doing usually has this kind of Marie Antoinette aesthetic, or Jane Austen film style too. I feel very connected and inspired by the period, because in terms of fashion for example, people were putting more attention in their clothing. They would spend maybe three hours dressing themselves like in the morning, putting the corsets — and at the time they were creating their own dresses, it was amazing. They’d have to go out and buy the fabric and say "Okay, I want this, and you make it for my body.", and the materials were all so nice, lots of lace and silk, it's amazing. I can’t explain the big connection, but everything I'm doing is a little bit inspired by that. I think that's why I'm so inspired by paintings too, because the connection with the things I'm doing now, even from back then, is the same.
"Gotta love inspirations from the past showing in today’s innovative pieces."
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