– Do you want other Parisians to write about as well? I know a man named Hugo.
That is about the first thing the designer Lisa Wikander asks me when we meet at Cojean by the Louvre behind two big windows that are facing the street. Light rain is rattling on them and outside people are wearing something in between summer dresses and fall coats. Cojean has been Lisa’s office for the last days since her own Internet connection does not work. She is sketching on a jewelry collection. The client wants 25 pieces in two weeks – also to mention is that she has never done anything like this before.
– Actually I am quite relieved. It is nice to get a job like this since working on my own stuff, being my own boss can be quite stressful sometimes.
Then, she tells me about Hugo at Chez Geroges, the popular little bar in the 6th, close to the church St Sulpice. It is owned by a Jewish family who often plays Hebrew music loud enough to make the mise escape.
-Hugo works in the bar upstairs and his brother is always in the basement. He was one of the first people I got to know when I first came here. He is adorable.
She writes down his name on a piece of paper and hands it over to me.
– Go and see him!
Lisa founded her clothing brand Ateliers Franka a year ago, after having finished LISAA (L’institut supérieur des arts appliqués).
– For my last project in school I made a small collection and got to sell it in a store on rue de Martyr in Montmartre called No Good Store. The clothes were gone in only a few weeks, then, I decided to take Ateliers Franka seriously and really try to do this as a full-time thing. It is more than a full-time thing actually… Soon I will hopefully also have clothes in a store called CANCAN.
– Don’t you find it hard to make yourself a name in Paris and in a very hierarchical fashion industry?
– Of course the competition is insane, but to me…Paris is the most beautiful, inspiring city in the world, so in the end it is a plus to be here rather than a minus. There are always people who are to be avoided of course…The climate in the industry is not either what it once was and Paris is less important on the fashion map with competition from other cities…It is however an important scene and so many people come here to discover fashion.
– Describe Ateliers Franka. From where did you get the name?
-Well…I saw someone on MTV a few years ago who was named Franka and just liked it… To me it stands for simplicity and femininity. I am not that fond of trends and think it is weird with people who look one way during springtime and completely different 6 months later. I like finding clothes that feel “me”, that can be used for a long time. I want people to be able to combine and match my pieces from different collections.
It is three o clock and still raining.
– I have to go meet the client in a hotel bar and present parts of the jewelry collection!
– Oh, good luck!
She slips her mac book in to a black bag. Internet duties are done for the day.
– Thanks!… and tell Hugo I said hi!
Visit Ateliers Franka and the Webshop. (PS: For anyone who is in Göteborg, Sweden on Thursday Sept 30th: The store Kungshöjd will have a sale and mingle night, including Lisa’s design, from 5 pm – 8 pm.)
Cojan is a wifi café/ healthy fast food place that is located on 3, Place du Louvre in the 1st arr.