Comptoir des Cotonniers' New Creative Director Loves a Good New Balance Sneaker, Gets Inspired by Cara Delevingne's Street Style

Senior Digital Editor

If you've set foot in a Comptoir des Cotonniers boutique lately, you might have noticed that the brand's Fall 2013 collection looks a bit darker and much more downtown than previous seasons—and you'd be absolutely right. The beloved French label recently tapped Amélie Gillier, former head designer and co-founder of Zadig & Voltaire, to inject new impetus into the company and add some edge to its identity. Gillier's debut fall collection, packed with leathers, tweeds and wool beanies, would fit seamlessly into Alexa Chung or Cara Delevingne's closets—and unsurprisingly, model-off-duty style is a major inspiration of the designer's.

Read on for our chat with Gillier, in which she shares her design process, names her favorite looks from fall and explains just what makes French girls so damn chic. Then, click through the slideshow for some of our favorite looks from Fall 2013!

Lucky: Prior to joining Comptoir, you were best known for your work at Zadig & Voltaire, a brand with quite a different signature aesthetic. How are you approaching your new job design-wise?

Amélie Gillier: I play with dualities at Comptoir des Cotonniers. For example, I like feminine pieces mixed with masculine items or iconic ones with a touch of sexiness and trendiness. We propose looks that combine style, quality and prices that allow every woman in the world to express her own French spirit and spiritual freedom. The Comptoir woman is free, modern, urban cool, stylish, feminine and bold—and by wearing Comptoir des Cotonniers, she expresses her unique allure.

The fall collection is beautiful—sharper and more downtown-feeling than the brand's past collections. What inspired you while creating it?

Thank you. Indeed, my first collection at Comptoir turns around an assertive silhouette, toying with necklines, well-shaped shoulders and stylishly emphasized legs. I am really inspired by models that have a sense of style. Some of them personally interpret the fashion trends and mix and match designer’s pieces with vintage pieces and basics items. This is a smart way to play with fashion. Coco Rocha and Cara Delevingne are two good examples; they have the right look at the right moment and really get fashion’s culture.

Do you have a favorite look or piece from Fall 2013—one you're especially proud of?

I love the silk printed blouses—they're perfect for wearing all day long with a pair of jeans, or in the evening with leather legging. I particularly like the écorce, or "bark" print. I also think the coats are iconic and trendy pieces in the collection. I focused on the details: the mixing and matching of materials, meticulously arranged asymmetries, zipper, buttons, quilted pieces, shaped collars. In terms of accessories, I have a big crush on the biker boots and the biker jacket we did in leather. They are very rock, very feminine—and they perfectly match with any outfit. I am a fan of the scarves as well. The autumn-winter collection gives you a wide choice of prints, colors and materials.

You have nearly two decades of experience in the fashion industry. What's the one most important thing you've learned since your career began?

You have to remain faithful and believe in your own ideas. It's important to listen to the customer's needs and tastes—to preempt women's desires at all moments.

We loved the collaboration Comptoir recently did with Calla. Will the brand continue to experiment with more collabs in the future?

Comptoir is always looking for new, emerging talents and crushes on specific products. For example, this autumn-winter we fell for the New Balance 420 sneaker. But my first objective right now is to assert the Comptoir style.

While Comptoir already has e-commerce in Europe, I know your American fans would love to shop the collection online too! Are there plans to launch a U.S. e-commerce site anytime soon? Please say yes!

Unfortunately, this is not in the short-term program—but of course, one day American women will be able to buy Comptoir des Cotonniers via the website.

Are there any other major design changes you're hoping to bring to the brand?

I would like to offer fashion that has a good mix of materials, cuts and details with a real French know-how. More than clothes, I would like to create a unique attitude, an easy-chic, recognizable style.

In addition to Comptoir, there are lots of other French contemporary brands making waves in the States right now—Sandro and Maje, for example. Why do you think girls in the US are so obsessed with French style?

French girls have that "je ne sais quoi" that makes them free and modern. Their effortless chic elegance is very desirable!

Comptoir des Cotonniers' fall collection is now in stores. Click here to find a boutique location near you!

Images courtesy of Comptoir des Cotonniers