In a world that’s fed by the concept of new, it’s hard to create something so unique it needs its own category, but that is exactly what fashion designer Miyako Nakamura did when she met Sarah LaFleur. The two founded M.M.LaFleur — a brand that pioneered a new aesthetic for the modern working woman, creating a suite of versatile basics that have redefined the term “corporate chic.”
While the blazers, sheaths, and wrap dresses appear simplistic on the surface, the design philosophy is anything but.
We recently visited Creative Director Nakamura at the M.M.LaFleur showroom to hear more about the brand and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Fall 2019 collection.
Tell us about how it all began.
M.M.LaFleur began with the mission to make life easier for women working in traditional corporate environments. Our founder, Sarah LaFleur, had been working in private equity, buying clothes that she didn’t particularly love or find flattering, something that I, as Sarah’s first hire and Creative Director at M.M., came to learn was an issue for many women working the 9 to
Describe the brand in 5 words or less.
Thoughtful design for purposeful women.
How does your design philosophy reflect this?
Coming from a high-fashion background where there really weren’t any dress code rules, it took some time to learn the unspoken rules that exist in corporate settings. Finding the balance between work-appropriate and functional (yet stylish!) clothing was a challenge, but Sarah gave me a lot of freedom from the very beginning, which has allowed my team and I to get creative.
After I met Sarah and began to think about the concept for M.M.LaFleur, I came across the book “How to Wrap 5 More Eggs” by Hideyuki Oka, which is about traditional Japanese packaging. It talks about how the content is the most important part, but the packaging exists to make it shine. This really inspired our design process — we create clothing to make women shine with a focus on comfort, functionality, and practicality. When you look at the construction of our pieces there is a lot of wrapping, tie around, folds and “sculpting” around the body” as in the act of wapping.
What’s the must-rent piece from this special edit for RTR?
The Collins Jacket — one of my favorites we’ve ever designed. The shape creates a very refined silhouette. You could wear it open with jeans and a t-shirt or closed with a wide belt for a modern take on the traditional suit.
Do you believe the idiom “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” still holds true in most industries?
I think the definition of “well-dressed” has progressed quite a bit since the idiom was created. In the world we live in now, how truly you can express yourself and how much you feel like yourself in the clothes you are wearing is more important than you “looking” like someone you want to be.
How do you get into the creative zone?
Ideally at night with my music — I need to be alone (physically or mentally).
When the day is over, how do you unwind?
I grew up in Japan reading comic books, and it’s still one of my favorite things to do to take my mind off of reality.