Because either offering a definitive biography of Sessùn or sketching a fixed portrait of its founder would be rather a simplistic exercise, instead what we’d like to do now, almost fifteen years after she first started, is to report on a state of mind, to talk about someone who is the guiding hand behind a style, inventing a whole world of her own and inviting us to step inside it without worrying about the coming trends and compulsory routines. Sessùn moves ever onwards driven by a wandering inspiration; it takes us by the hand and reminds us that we love fashion when it tells us about lots of other things too.
The former anthropology student from Montpellier could have become a researcher or an archaeologist, for the intense pleasure of discovery. In the end the things she saw and the people she met on her travels led her to print her memories of several ancient civilisations onto our contemporary fabric.
It was in South America that Emma François felt the first mystical im- pact, the turning point which foreshadowed a vocation. OK, that may be a cliché but it really doesn’t matter. It was when she came into contact with people who weave, embroider, sew and make things, drawing unquestioningly on a heritage of techniques and know-how, that she fi- nally understood what she had to do and found her own way.
1998 saw the obligatory trip to Paris and the Who’s Next show at which she presented her brand for the first time. Then, having set up base in Marseilles, she got herself noticed in 1999 and 2001 when she was awarded the “Jeune Créateur” (Young Designer) prize by the Institut Mode Méditerranée (Mediterranean Fashion Institute). Sessùn is now extending its distribution to more than six hundred points of sale internationally, with two hundred in France, and has a world of its own, its own space, its own chosen design, in five own-name boutiques in Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, Paris Avignon and Lille.
While her brand is travelling, Emma herself still goes out on the road. At the moment she manages to get away to Japan at least twice a year, drawn by the Japanese sense of contrast, extreme gentleness and urban insanity, the respect for culture and the addiction to technolo- gy and certainly also because of the country’s sincere eco-civic glo- bal awareness. This is an aspect which Sessùn develops naturally, whe- never possible, through series using organic fibres or from fair trade crops.
Is it a matter of listening out for trends so that you can anticipa- te shades, printed fabrics, shapes and cuts? Yes, of course, but first and foremost it’s about trusting your instincts, the emotions you pick up every single time you go out, whether it’s just a great night on the town or a journey to a faraway place. In any case there can be no commercial concessions because, as she puts it so well herself: “If you’ve got no feeling for what you’re doing it’ll never work!»
And because Emma François isn’t the kind of woman to work all on her own in a corner somewhere, she quickly forged links with the urban arts, hence loyal, consistent partnerships for her brand with the li- kes of the illustrator Vanska, who designed the line of jewels; the graphic and sound designer Sundae and, more recently, the ceramicist Astrid Sleire and the visual artist Carolina Melis.
And when you ask her which other artists she’d like to ask to come up with a piece or a limited series, if she could choose anyone at all, Emma talks about photography, mentioning names such as William Eggles- ton, Stephen Shore and Eugene Richards.
At the end of the day, looking beyond these international figures all of whom have a poetic touch which would fit in perfectly with the Ses- sùn image, Emma also has a place in her heart for talented youngsters, for instance the enchanted, dreamlike, almost symbolist watercolours of the Irish artist Donna Huddleston, whose work has become her latest craze.