Q&A with Marielle Wyse

The Journal interviews the founder of Wyse London. 

The founder of Wyse London on her French and English heritage, the importance of being comfortable, and the fleeting nature of fashion.

Q: Having started your brand online, what prompted you to open a physical store? 

A: I think it’s very hard to reproduce online the quality and the colours, so people really need to see in the flesh what the clothes are like. With a shop, you can do that. We don’t just sell navy jumpers and jeans – we sell beautiful prints, lovely fabrics, silk shirts, so it needs showcasing properly. 

Coming to the shop is really important for me. It gives me time to absorb a little bit. I’m working, but I’m also absorbing things: listening to the girls who work here, seeing the customers, hearing what they’ve got to say. I think being close to the customers is so important. 

Q: Who is the Wyse woman? 

A: Our customer is kind of a ‘forgotten woman’, maybe a little bit ‘second phase’, in the second or third chapter of her life, and she doesn’t really know where to shop. She’s a very smart lady, clever. She doesn’t like to be taken for a ride with fashion – she likes high quality, well-designed clothes, but fairly priced rather than overpriced. She’s incredibly stylish but she wants to wear the clothes, not have the clothes wear her. 

Q: What’s your design ethos? 

A: It’s all about feeling comfortable in your clothes – “bien dans sa peau”, as the French say. I know it’s a very unglamorous thing to say, but I think that the most important thing is to feel good. The first thing I say to anyone is: “Do you feel comfortable in that?” Because if you don’t, you won’t wear it. It’s like really highheeled shoes – some people don’t feel comfortable in really high-heeled shoes and they can’t really walk, and if you don’t feel comfortable and you can’t walk, I think that ruins an outfit! I think it’s all about ‘owning’ your look and just wearing little touches of fashion. 

Something I do say is that style is ageless, whereas fashion is very transitory. Some of the most stylish ladies I see are in their sixties, seventies and eighties. I think they look amazing. They know exactly how to frame themselves. For me, dressing people like that is so rewarding. 

Q: How would you describe your personal style? 

A: It’s a blend of the French pareddown thing and English quirkiness. I’ve got two styles, one that is more English and one that’s a little bit more French. I love colour, but the right colour. I like tailoring. I’m fascinated by different styles. I like Chloé, Yves Saint Laurent, Gabriela Hearst, Loewe, they all do lovely things. But for me, I would rarely spend that kind of money on anything. I also find high street brands in many ways quite challenging – if I go into Zara, the colours are a bit unwearable. Someone on a magazine once called Wyse a “demi-luxe brand”, which I thought was a lovely way of putting it – we sit between two things, which I think is relevant to lots of people. 

Q: What are the key pieces in your wardrobe? 

A: The key pieces for me are a good trench coat, a good Crombie, a pair of flared jeans – all ours. And I love a tux jacket. We did one with velvet lapels – I love velvet lapels on tailoring. A nice shirt, a Breton top, that’s it really. The joy for me now is that I don’t have to buy from anybody else! To improve the design and to know what we’re missing, I have to wear our stuff. 

Q: So, are you your own role model? 

A: I like that question! I think I’m my own worst critic, but I certainly use myself to see if the clothes are right for the brand. I’m a real guinea pig for the label, because if I’m not comfortable in something I make, I certainly don’t want to give it to anybody else. That said, I am quite small, petite, size eight, so I have to be aware of different shapes and sizes. But I think the sign of a really good design is that it can suit lots of different body shapes. Like a good tux jacket, for example – it really does suit a lot of shapes. 

Q: Where do you find inspiration for your designs? 

A: Just from people around me. I was in Paris recently and Paris is a wonderful feast for your eyes, just the colour and style everywhere, not just on people, but in architecture, shop design, everything, I find Paris totally inspirational. I’m not a slave to any of these people who tell me what’s going to be in fashion at any given point. For me, it’s about making nods to current tastes, offering little tweaks, rather than embracing every new trend that comes round the corner. 

Q: Why Marylebone? 

A: Because it’s just such an ‘us’ high street. It’s a bit of a smart, intelligent high street if that makes sense. It’s got enough shops to keep you interested, but not too many to overdo it. It’s like a capsule high street, and I just love the feel of it. I go onto Oxford Street and just get straight onto the tube and away from it – the atmosphere really throws me. I go onto Bond Street, and it’s too exclusive. I think Marylebone has got something more inclusive about it, which I love. 

Interview: Jackie Modlinger