Monique Brival

Monique Brival

Fabric Director


Can you tell me how you got started in your field?

‘I began as a designer and after few years I realised that I would not be the great designer I wanted to be. But I also realised that I really enjoyed developing special fabrics and that was easy for me, almost organic. I felt at ease in the fabric factories and I had good contacts with the technicians there.’
Name three things that have defined your career
‘In my first job at a small company designing men’s shirts, my boss asked me to develop prints imitating woven effects, such as a jacquard or dobbie. I had the opportunity to go to visit mills and work with technicians directly, and I learned a lot. The second is having a good sense of colours, and the third is my capacity to understand technical issues in fabrics – and to foresee them.’  
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
‘Seeing one of my fabrics inspiring other brands and becoming a trend.’
What is the biggest factor that has helped your success?
‘My curiosity. When I was visiting mills, I always tried to understand the technical problems and how things were made.’
What challenges have you faced in your career? And how did you overcome them?
‘I am not the typical fabric girl of my generation; I had worked in sportswear and I wanted to work for a luxury brand. I knew deep inside I would be good at that, but it took a while before someone would hire me. Fashion is a tough world, and you must be hard working as well as talented, but you need luck, too. When it is not there, you have to look for it.’
Can you name a person that has had a significant impact on you as a leader?
‘Working with Martin Margiela at Hermès, I learned what accuracy means; when Ralph Lauren offered me a job in fabric and I moved to New York, I learned to work in a big corporate company; and I also had the great pleasure to work for Phoebe Philo – she is a powerful inspiration for me. She pushed me further than I thought I could go, and we developed beautiful fabric under her leadership.’
What is the most important risk you have taken?
‘Moving to New York to work for Ralph Lauren directly. I was in my forties, I knew nobody in town, and I spoke English poorly. But one day, I remember walking home from work and not being sure of the way. I said to myself: “Don’t be scared, keep walking.” Then I realised I could apply this thought to my situation.’
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up?
I never gave up and I hope I never will, even when it is not easy.’
How do you see growth?
‘I have been in the business for a long time now, and I love what I do. My great pleasure is sharing what I know about the job with my team.’
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
‘Nothing. My time is now, and I take care of it every day.’
How do you manifest creativity in your role?
‘I use it at every stage of my work – not just when I combine colours together on a beautiful cloth.’
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
‘Listen carefully to others, learn something every day, shine always and trust yourself.’
What does greatness look like?
‘Seeing the Artistic Director I work for being so happy with the fabrics I have developed. This is when I feel I have done my job well.’
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