Buy fewer, better clothes

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Marianne Fassler on what goes into her designs, what it takes to be a fashion designer and how to dress stylishly.

If your clothes were food, what dish would they be? 
My clothes would probably be a heavily-laden table filled with food from all over the world. There would be a vegetarian thali from Kerala, Mexican tamales from Oaixaca, carpaccio with raw artichokes and Parmesan from Venice, spicy Cambodian dumplings, a mountain of fragrant pilaf from Marrakesh, braaied lamb chops from the Karoo, a stack of frites and steak tartare from Paris, and the freshest salmon dumplings from the Café Pushkin in Moscow.   

That’s certainly an eclectic mix. Ever been faced with a fashion disaster? 
I’m not sure how to answer that. But recently a woman wore one of my cashmere and fur coats only to be told by her husband that she looked as though she was wearing a buffalo round her waist. This was a surprise to both her and me, but I firmly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.    

What does it take to make it in the fashion industry? 
You need a clear and well-developed sense of what your brand stands for. People need to know what to expect and to come back for again and again over many years. To stay relevant you also need to re-invent yourself and your brand constantly. And you need to know your customer and service them in a way that is personal and practical.   

What inspires you? 
Everything and anything. As a woman I understand the frustration of wanting exclusivity, individuality, good fit and comfort. So every day I re-evaluate what I need and want as a modern woman and try to incorporate some of that into my design. As well as my signature ‘edge’, of course.  

Do you have any tips for dressing stylishly? 
Yes. Be yourself. And get professional help. Buy fewer, better clothes. Rather keep your wardrobe small and workable.   

Marianne is married to Charles Bothner. She has two daughters from her first marriage, Hannia and Marisa, and has five stepchildren, Justin, Antonia, Claudia, Simon and Dominic.