· By Madeleine Green
Interview with Marie Noorbergen
Thank you for taking the time to contribute!
I really feel like you're part of the Madeleine Thompson family as you've been around since 2012/2013 when we did that first shoot on the streets of Venice, LA. Remember that?
You really took the aesthetic and vibe to a new place. It sort of blew my mind!
Hey Maddy, yes what a trip! For sure I remembered, shooting cashmere under the Californian sun, that was not the usual.
The idea of building the Madeleine Thompson brand around the Venice beach surf and skating life style at the time was a very exciting proposition to me, to us.
I have to say that I never got as much trust and freedom with any other project than working with you Maddy!
You always gave me the right input starting a new season with your creation and inspiration. Sent me a bunch of boxes of samples from HK, then you let me roll with my creative team.. the brilliant stylist Isabelle Saubadu has been working with me since our first shoot till today breaking the usual premium classic cashmere look at the time.
Cashmere got a new flavor, with a laid back Cali sunny vibe, playing with the graphic cultural 70’s Californian surf & skate culture, within the colorful lenses of your creations.
The rainbow style had 100% it’s place into the Venice beach spirit.. you have made it your signature,10 years after it still glows and shines all over the place.
You also understood at the time, in a super early Instagram era, the value of story telling and creating content, so each season we got to shoot short video, with my friend, the brilliant independent film maker Tao Ruspoli.
We were always looking for our next location, using and discovering LA multiple cultures and codes, in true guerrilla style.
Before we go too deep into our MT journey, can you tell us a little bit about your own professional journey.
You're Originally From Belgium And Then You Were In Paris, Right?
Yup! I grew up in Bruxelles, went to La Cambre Art School, studied Graphic Design and Communication Arts, but always had one foot into the Fashion and Designer section next door.
Right after i finished my study, I got hired at Air Paris fashion advertising agency .. that was an amazing step for me, I got to work with really brilliant talents at such a young age. Set designer, make up artist, designer and makers of all kinds that truly drove me through my professional journey.
I remembered my first week there I was on set with Jean-Baptiste Mondino on the Dior J’adore campaign with Carmen Kass. Lucky me. I was in shock, but tried to keep my calm and focus.
Paris was just so exhilarating, the art scene, the artisan life, the passion about the making and the talking, the insane beauty of the city, the culture behind the creative process was very powerful there. Inspiration was 24 hours on.. not much sleeping for sure ..
What are the differences between working in Paris and then in California?
The difference could not be more extreme at the time when i moved to Los Angeles in early 2000.
The fashion landscape and the work ethic had a very much different flavor back there.
I have to say the shift was abrupt! My portfolio was screaming luxury French fashion, culture & history, having work for 4 years on brands like Dior, Kenzo, Veuve Cliquot, Cacharel, Marithé Francois Girbaud..
The transition was not obvious landing into the world of denim fashion in LA, and this was way before Streetwear became the new High Fashion. But it turned out that it was just at this most interesting shift, when luxury brands were entering that world. So to my advantage when i was there, California actually became the "New Luxury" in the world of Fashion. Who knew!
So here I am, landing into the Denim kingdom of California. I worked at Joe’s Jeans as an Art Director, first then has Photographer/Director for 6 years. From rue Saint Honoré, Paris to Downtown LA, right in the middle of the making, designing, sawing, cutting, dying, shooting, building showroom and stores… I had the unique chance to be part of a truly maker culture.
The directness of the process and the transparency of the making was very satisfying, the team work hands on everything was pretty new for me. This is how i got to be trusted by Joe Dahan to move from the art director to the photographer/director myself, for all their ad campaigns and started creating short films, just a couple of years after entering the company. Nice move Joe!
My main takeaway when we started working together is how talented you are on so many different levels and how intuitive you are to work with.
From graphics to photography, you are able to take what I want (and often I'm not able to necessarily SAY so clearly) and produce such a cool and singular result, which is often much better and beyond what I originally asked for, and always pushing the boundaries to create something really special.
Does this come naturally to you or do you think it's happened with experience?
Dammn, thank you Maddy! My journey from studying graphic design then working as an art director to then being the one that is holding the camera, always really gave me a good understanding of the ‘whole', and seeing the individual role from each on the team .. the importance of the team and the process of the making. Talents, ideas, resources are important only if they are pushed and used at their full capacity in the moment.
So this is what we are trying to optimize on every shoot .. orchestrating the right atmosphere and the magical alchemy to pull the best out of everyone .. and of course, some days better than others:
What's the best part of your job and the 'not so best' - Don't want to say worst!
I actually, lucky me, like lots of part in what I do.. It’s hard not to have my hands in all of it, even making sure we get home-made delicious food/lunches on sets, it all plays its part for me, so I love it all :)
As I have with you, working directly with the Creator/Designer is always obviously the best. Translating a ideas behind a collection and then bringing it to life visually in stories is super inspiring to me, .
Putting the team together, casting, working closely with the stylist is 80% of the result of a shoot, creating an environment that gets the best of the team .. then if we lucky enough to encounter a bunch of happy accidents, then we might get some images that we still like today.
The part of me that's a graphic designer, really loves the editing process and the layout composition when putting the story together.. that’s really satisfying to finish a job by it. And I guess being Art Director in Advertising gave me the skills to ensure the elements communicate together in a fully compelling way.
In my other work, as I create stories for Creative Cultural institutions (with Base Design),such as the LA Master Chorale at the Disney Hall and The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, I find that exchanging between the two worlds is really a great source of inspiration for me. As I’m able to bring the fashion sensibility and street culture to other creative, perhaps more high minded areas such as performance arts and theatre, the interchange going both ways provides a richness and unique perspective for each.
But my most favorite part is simply when i am working with super talented peeps and feel like I keep learning and exploring in visual expression, whatever I’m doing.
Tell me what you love about living in Venice?
Venice in 2000 was such a place full of contrast, a unique culture mixing, surf, skate, gangs, hippies, fresh euros like myself, antiques stores, artisan workshops hidden away, a walkable neighborhood with the cutest little French school around the corner where we first lived..
Somehow It has changed quiet a bit since then ..:)
Can you tell us what you've loved about our Madeleine Thompson journey?
I’ve always looked forward to our next story to your next collection, trying to surprise with new images within our brand core identity.
Working with you Maddy really helped me exploring my photography work with your full support and trust.
I’m also looking forward to see what’s next after Venice Beach!