Marithé and François Girbaud – L’autre

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Jackie Nickerson – Platoon 2006-07

The French fashion label Marithé and François Girbaud was founded in 1964 and it’s safe to say that jeans wouldn’t have the place in fashion they do now without the remarkable work of Marithé and François. The design pair are renowned for their progressive approach to styling denim and because of their dedication to the textile; jeans are now a cult item for all of us.

This spring the Museum of Art and Industry in Saint Étienne has opened a chronological exhibition looking at the work by the famed fashion house. This exhibition is the first in France to look exclusively at their work and is titled L’autre Jean (the other jean). The display has been specifically curated to showcase the many creative innovations of the label.

Steve Hiett Le Monde est fou 2010

The in depth exhibition looks at the creations, research and innovations of the denim designers and the impact these have had on the fashion world, and consequently on our wardrobes.

When Marithé and François began designing jeans making one pair would use vast amounts of water and chemicals to treat and style the designs as desired. Now however, thanks to the pairs innovations, one pair of jeans can be made with minimal water and chemicals yet still retaining the worn in look that the label is famous for. François modestly sums up the pairs work as: “We went from stone and water, to air and light, it’s incredible.”

Oliviero Toscani – Chambray 1983

The label was at its prime in the 80s and 90s, standing alongside heavyweight brands such as Levis and Lee and forging an identity all of its own. While labels like Levis stood out as the all American classic, Marithé and François were forging a fresh approach to wearing denim.

One of the innovations that the label is most famous for is the process of laser engraving denim. Marithé and François progressed from using lasers to cut denim to using it to engrave denim. When they realised what a unique finish it could provide the pair went on to use this technique on their products and produced some of the labels most memorable designs. Customers can now even have a design of their choice engraved onto their jeans.

MFG Le boutonneux 1971

Using their extensive knowledge of jean manufacturing Marithé and François now pioneer ‘guilt-free denim’ showing at trade shows around the world to promote a clean method of making jeans.

This exhibition which ends on May 6th demonstrates and explores the alchemy that Marithé and François have applied to the manufacturing and styling of jeans. Some of the fashion label’s most iconic pieces will be on display, alongside technical drawings and some of the house’s famous advertising campaigns. In conjunction with the exhibition French Publishers Éditions de La Martiniér are releasing ‘Marithé and François Girbaud’ the first book to be dedicated to the label.

Fabrizio Ferri – romance deglinged pants 1986


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Written by Roanna Price

Roanna Price, fascinated by the escapism, imagination and conversation that can be conjured in the glossy page of fashion writing. Journalism graduate in Liverpool Roanna is responsible for our Top Model Biographies section.

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