Interview with Elisabeth Ridet, Artistic Director at Wear Moi

Please tell us about your career as a professional dancer?

For as long as I can remember, I've always known that I wanted to devote my life to dance. That was my destiny. I'm from Toulon, in southern France, which is where I started dance lessons just after my third birthday. I was admitted to the prestigious Rosella Hightower School in Cannes (France) when I was 14. 

I started getting noticed in my first year there. In my second year, I really stood out from the pack and began landing my first roles. The pace was intense, but I really loved what I was doing. We had school in the morning until noon. Then we had jazz, classic and pointe lessons in the afternoon.  I lived in the school's dormitory, so the dance studio became like a second home. In fact, on school holidays, I stayed at school so that I could participate in the Summer Intensive program. 

When I joined the company at Jeune Ballet de France, I really got to experience life on stage. I progressed very quickly during that period because we had about six performances a week. I was lucky enough to travel all around France for a year as part of the national dance troupe. 

Then I auditioned for the Ballets de Monte Carlo. I joined the company in 1986 and stayed for six years. That experience is particularly meaningful to me because it's where I met my husband, Christophe Ridet.

Next, I left France to pursue an international career. I moved to Seattle to dance with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Then I joined the English National Ballet in London from 1994 to 1999. Finally, I finished my dancing career in the company at Deutsche Oper Berlin in Germany. 

For various personal reasons, I ended my career when I was 32. I made a radical choice to quit dancing overnight. So I returned to London to join my husband Christophe, who was already managing the Wear Moi design studio. Ever since we had met at Ballets de Monte Carlo, I had been fortunate to have Christophe at my side and he made me whatever dance outfit I wanted. Over the course of my career, I was able to wear 100% custom-tailored dancewear. Whenever I had an idea, I would tell him about it so that he could make me whatever I had dreamed up. The dancers I worked with frequently asked me where I bought my leotards. They always wanted the same ones! I proudly told them that Christophe had sewn them for me. 

That is when I fully invested myself in the Wear Moi adventure to help grow the brand. I contributed my artistic vision while never losing sight of our fundamental promise to design to the highest standard with attention to detail.

Today I still have a very deep connection to my previous life as a dancer. It is an unbreakable bond that I will always carry in me. Although I no longer dance, I always ask myself if I would've liked this or that outfit. I even try on every new design we create to be sure that it meets the stringent demands of dancers. 

As artistic director, how would you describe Wear Moi?

We want to embody the values of exacting standards and excellence. That is reflected in the elegance and quality of our products, and in their technical reliability. As part of my professional duties, I stay in touch with the stage, dance studios and dancers. Those links will always be there for as long as Wear Moi exists. 

I care a lot about how our products are presented and merchandised. Considerable thought goes into our photo and video shoots: which location, which dancer, what kind of hair and make-up, which garments (tights, skirted leotard, etc.), which positions, which music for the videos... All these questions are vital because they directly influence the image of the Wear Moi brand and its artistic vision. 

It's important to point out that we work with top-tier professional dancers for our photo and video content. One might think they are professional models, but they aren't. These shoots give me a chance to go back in time and relive my former career. It's as if I was going back into a dance studio because I have to guide the dancers who pose in our designs: "Straighten the leg!" or "Turn out the feet!" ». 

What makes me the proudest is seeing my designs worn by dancers all over the world. And it happens more frequently than ever thanks to the democratization of social media. Thanks to the digital age, I can keep tabs on customers who wear our designs in dance studios, at competitions and even on stage. It's extremely gratifying to see the extent of our reach. In addition, we are very responsive to our dancers. We try as much as possible to take their feedback into account. Sometimes they even serve as inspiration!

Can you tell us about your creative process when you develop new models?

The first thing to know is that I'm not in the habit of imposing any limits on myself. That helps me stay open minded in my creative process. Although I've been the head of the art department at Wear Moi for over 30 years, the fundamentals of my process are still the same. It starts with the raw materials: the fabrics inspire me! I can spend hours and hours scouting new materials. It's really fascinating. Sometimes I choose fabrics that may seem surprising, but when the project comes to fruition through the various stages, it turns into something beautiful. 

Unlike what people may think, I'm not always influenced by current trends. I prefer not to get attached to them. I follow my own heart. That gives me limitless freedom to create. I'm always trying to reinvent by seeking out new materials to work with, whether they are in fashion or not. For me, novelty and innovation are very important values in my role as artistic director. 

At Wear Moi, we are lucky to have very few constraints when it comes to designing and manufacturing our products because we do everything in-house. In artistic terms, that means the realm of possibilities is almost endless. I want to stress out that I am surrounded by a strong team. I work very closely with a group of professionals whose skills complement my own. Our teamwork allows us to reconcile my artistic choices with the technical feasibility of a project so that we deliver a product of the highest possible quality. 

When it comes to choosing raw materials, especially fabrics, how do you go about it?

Each year, I'm on the lookout for new suppliers who can propose innovative, original fabrics. I also have long-standing suppliers with whom I've been working since the beginning. 

Some of them give us the opportunity to design our own fabrics. For that, we choose a base fabric offered in their catalogue, then we adapt it to our needs in terms of colors or patterns, for example. 

It's almost custom-made. I really enjoy working with suppliers who give us that possibility for adaptation. It's thanks to them, in part, that we are able to reinvent ourselves by introducing new styles year after year, with models you won't find anywhere else. 

What were your inspirations for the new 2022 collection?

First and foremost, the raw materials: they are the launchpad for my inspirations for any new collection. Our new 2022 collection is no exception to the rule. But there's more. I have to acknowledge that I'm also quite inspired by shapes. There are timeless shapes that come up again and again. Sometimes we have to draw on changes in fashion to transform models that have been successful in the past. 

Choose country/region

Current locations: United States of America