During our last visit to Bali, I regularly stumbled upon this minimalist yet beautiful boutique from Parisian-born fashion designer Magali Pascal, who happens to reside in the island of gods. If you have ever wandered around Seminyak and Canggu, you most probably have seen her boutique. You really can’t miss it. Its minimalist and elegant décor, of course with beautiful clothes hanging around, will entice you to go inside and find out more.
So, that is exactly what I did I got to know the brand as well as the woman behind the brand. Magali Pascal was born and raised in Paris. She spent her childhood visiting art museums and exhibitions with her grandmother, discovering her passion for the arts from an early age. She has always been creative and enjoyed fashion, so it was no question when she took her fashion study at Ensad (École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs) and learned everything about fashion. Pascal was obsessed with the idea of making her own clothes and knew right away that it would become her career of choice. “I see fashion as an art form that people can express themselves through.”
So, she did, and established her own brand in Bali. Magali Pascal, at the core, creates high-end pieces that embody effortless French style, designed for women who embrace their femininity, with signature styles blending timeless silhouettes and Bohemian sophistication.
Some of the highlights of our conversation:
What type of woman did you have in mind while designing?
The Magali Pascal woman is someone who embraces her femininity. She cares about where her clothes come from, who made them, and how they make her feel. The Magali Pascal woman is strong and independent and has an effortless approach to fashion. She wears the clothes; they don’t wear her.
What made you decide to move to Bali and build your brand here?
I first came to Bali in 2002 after completing my studies in Paris. While on the island, I was designing a capsule collection for a small French brand. I just ended up falling in love with the island! I wasn’t planning on moving to the island long-term but I returned in 2004 and basically never left.
I started my business by designing and sewing all my own pieces in my little studio in Bali and then opened my first shop in Seminyak in 2006 and the brand has just continued to grow ever since. We now have four boutiques in Bali, one in Sydney, sell online worldwide, and wholesale internationally.
I feel like Magali Pascal’s aesthetic never shies away from being feminine and embracing femininity, which is great. Has it always been like that since the beginning? Is there a message behind the brand’s design language?
Feminine designs have always been key to my collections. However, I would say the brand has definitely evolved since 2006, the same way that fashion has. How the fabric moves is very important to me and I feel that sheer styles move beautifully in the light which makes for feminine design. Many of my designs are oversized or relaxed fits which I think compliments the delicate prints and fabrics.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I’ve always found inspiration from my travels, whether I’m visiting a new country or returning to Paris. I love discovering vintage markets and searching for antique art pieces, ceramics, or clothing, and I feel that this really does inspire my collections.
We understand that creativity is really important, but at the same time, you are a business and you have customers. How do you deal with trends and market demands? How’s your relationship with your customer?
I like to design timeless pieces that don’t go out of fashion so I’m not hugely influenced by trends. I believe this is core to building a sustainable business, as I want my customers to feel like they are purchasing something they can wear time and time again. We do have several markets, though, including our Bali customers who are quite different to our European or Australian customers, as they are on holiday on a resort island. So, my designs for our Bali boutiques tend to be more resort and usually use lighter fabrics that are more wearable in this climate.
I love our customers! They are the most important part of the business! We’re a small business, so I’m often in touch with our customers via Instagram when they reach out and I love connecting with our Bali customers here on the island. We’re working towards setting up trunk shows in Bali to help us connect even more with the customer, so stay tuned!
How do you define sustainability and how do you apply it to your brand?
Sustainability within the business has many different meanings. For me, at the forefront are two main strategies: Building a business that can continuously support my team and designing clothes with slow-fashion principles. This means that our fabrics are natural and high quality and, when possible, certified; that we design and create purposefully; and that we reduce the amount of waste – fabrics and plastic – we create. Magali Pascal is headquartered in Bali, Indonesia, and both our head office and factory are located in the same building. Our building is naturally lit which not only saves energy but I also find that it’s a lovely work environment.
Our online store uses home compostable mailer bags and we are in the process of eliminating all single-use plastic from our factory. Our upcoming collections will all be packaged in biodegradable packaging. We try and find solutions for our off-cuts and sew matching accessories, such as eye-masks, coin pouches, and tote bags.
We see that you are also working with local artisans in Bali. How important is this decision to you and how has it shaped the brand?
Magali Pascal was created in Bali and has grown on the island and internationally thanks to the work of our local artisans. It is very important for me to be able to give back to the people that have worked so hard, so it is inevitable that I will continue to work with them and their work will continue to shape the brand. Working with local artisans here has allowed me to be way more involved in the creation process of my pieces. It really is such a privilege to be on this island and to be able to work with so many different talented people.
Has the pandemic changed anything for the brand? How do you and your team deal with the current situation?
The pandemic has definitely had an impact on the brand and the business. At the beginning of lockdown our head office team began working from home and we had to temporarily close our factory which was a very hard decision to make. Once it was safe to do so, we brought the team back to office and the factory while still respecting social distancing. The whole process has been another huge learning curve, but I think it has made us stronger as a team and encouraged us to think outside the box.
In terms of the brand, the pandemic really highlighted the need for us to push for more sustainable practices. Since lockdown we have designed and created two small collections that take a much stronger sustainable approach, reusing old fabrics and prints. Our upcoming collections are also predominantly made from natural fibres and, where possible, we are using certified fabrics in order to reduce the negative impact that fashion can have on our planet.
What does your day-to-day activities look like these days?
I spend most of my days at our office working with my team and designing our collections. My early mornings are spent at home with my twins and husband, usually with a short walk to our nearest beach. I’ll be home in the afternoon and get to spend time with my family again, cooking dinner and just enjoying. This year was meant to be packed with travel. However, things obviously didn’t work out that way due to the pandemic. I’ve definitely enjoyed slowing down a bit and making the most of the time I have here on this beautiful island.
What do you do in your free time?
It really depends on the day, but in the evening, I really enjoy cooking. At the weekends I’ll start my day at our local café before visiting the fresh fruit and vegetable markets in Canggu. We are also enjoying exploring the island at the moment and we’re spending some weekends in Uluwatu by the beach or up in Bedugul in the mountains for a change of scene and temperature!
Who do you look up to the most in the fashion industry?
I have always been a fan of English stylist and designer Clare Waight Keller who was previously a designer at Chloe and then moved on to become the first female Creative Director for Givenchy. She’s always embraced a 1970s inspired feminine aesthetic, which I really admire.
Looking ahead, what’s next in your agenda?
I’m really excited for what’s next for the brand! Our collections for 2021 have a variety of different fabrics and weights, with a selection of every day pieces as well as signature Magali styles. It’s also our first venture into outerwear which has been such fun to work on! We’re working on setting up an Indonesian online store to cater to all our Indonesian customers, too. 2021 is due to be a big year for us!
(All images: Magali Pascal)
This story first appeared in Prestige Indonesia.