Haute couture: to many it is seen as highly impractical, completely unaffordable and usually unwearable. But the pieces by modern couture designer Maria Grachvogel are different. Known for their perfect fit and flattering cut, Maria’s designs have become indispensable ingredients in many celebrity wardrobes.
The likes of Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham and Yasmin Le Bon are among Maria’s many loyal customers who keep coming back for more. Her famous ‘magic pants’, which lengthen the legs and narrow the hips through clever cutting, have been an key part of the collection by popular demand since 2006.
Today I’m going to try the magic myself and I’m on my way to meet Maria at her flagship store near London’s trendy Sloane Square. Maria has been designing clothes from the age of eight and completed her first collection when she was 14. She launched the Maria Grachvogel brand in 1994 and hasn’t looked back since.
“I just flew in from Kuwait,” she says as we sit down in the stylish fitting room. “I was invited to participate in the country’s first-ever fashion show! It was really quite an experience – different from anything I have ever seen… The organization, timings and even the models.”
“How do you mean, the models?”
“Well you know what models look like in most countries… I was very impressed to see that in Kuwait, they decided to work with models who look like ‘real’ women.”
“Didn’t that complicate things for you? You must have needed time to adjust your collection…”
“Actually, I was saved by my Cut & Fit philosophy.”
“Ok and how does that work?”
“I strongly believe that every female body is unique. Every body is different, every woman feels beautiful in her own way. Whenever I create a new design, I try it out on every member of my team. The designs have to suit every woman’s shape and size. Whether you are tall or short, thin or curvy, it should make you feel wonderful.”
“So how do you achieve that?”
“Over time I have developed an eye for cutting to flatter. I am fascinated by the cut, feel and fit of clothing. If you have time, I would love to do a fitting session with you – that way you’ll understand exactly what I mean.”
“I’d love that!”
Maria smiles knowingly. “I think I have just the thing for you,” she says as she takes a silky golden-brown jumpsuit off the hook and into one of the fitting rooms. “Follow me!”
Initially I’m not so sure about the suit – it’s a colour I’d never wear, and frankly, also a style I’d never wear.
“Just try it,” says Maria gently.
As I slip into the supple fabric, Maria drapes the soft folds over my shoulders. “Well it’s definitely very comfortable,” I tell her.
“And look at yourself!” she says as she spins me round to look in the mirror.
Wow. It actually looks pretty good on me. The cut makes me look taller and gives an air of casual-chic. I smile at myself and strut up and down in front of the mirror. “I can imagine Angelina Jolie going to a cocktail party in this,” I tell Maria.
“I think you should you to your next cocktail party in this!” she says. “It’s made for you!”
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