“The Magali Pascal woman is proud of both her femininity and her masculinity. One day she will wear a silk dress with exaggerated ruffles and the next she’ll be in a tailored suit – in either look she will feel confident,” Magali Pascal explains of her eponymous brand, which is all about duality and dichotomy.
Bestselling designs include her signature white blouse, usually slightly oversized with lace details, it can be dressed up or down. Or an effortless shirtdress as well as jeans – denim accents pervade the collections. If the clothes embrace movement as well as structure – it’s no surprise, then to find the French designer leads something of a double life. Her home is in Bali, yet Pascal splits her time travelling between Paris and Australia.
Bali of course has always attracted creatives and Pascal first travelled to the island after completing her studies at Ensad in Paris (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs). “During my first few months in Bali in 2002 I worked as a freelance designer for a boutique in France to help me get by. During my free time I designed and made a small capsule collection. The standout piece was a sexy, beaded lace dress that was an instant hit and coincided with the opening of the island’s glamorous beach clubs. The rest is history really!” she explains. Pascal set up her brand in 2005, which now comprises four resort boutiques in Bali and a flagship store in Sydney, Australia. Her collections are also stocked internationally at boutiques and department stores including Brown Thomas.
Pascal lives in a small coastal village in the southwest of Bali with her husband Matt, a photographer, and their twins. She and her husband had been looking for land to build on when they discovered a small rundown property surrounded by rice fields in 2013. “When we found this place, we just knew it was home. It’s in a village tucked away from the craziness of Bali. The land actually belonged to a sacred temple, and there is definitely something magical about this place,” she says.
She and her husband knocked down the existing property and started building in 2015. “The build took around 18 months and we moved in in 2017. The only part of the previous property that remained was the swimming pool which we converted into a cinema room.”
Pascal describes her four-bedroomed home as minimal and peaceful. One of its main features is the eight-metre-high ceiling across the open plan living area which creates a feeling of spaciousness – it’s Pascal’s favourite place at home. “Not only is it where the family comes together and where we create most of our memories, but early in the morning while my home is still quiet, the morning light floods into the space bringing my home to life.”
The sense of serenity is reinforced by the light colour palette against which Pascal has decorated with a mix of contemporary European furniture and artisanal pieces by Balinese craftsmen. The living room, with polished cement floors and white walls, is decorated with custom made Balinese furniture including (on trend) wicker chairs by Bali Rattan, a coffee table from Kuno furniture and light fittings from Berawa, Bali. The artwork of the desert in Palm Springs is by Pascal’s husband. The kitchen is a mix of Italian marble counters, pendant lights from Denmark and custom-made stools from Bali. The dining area features an antique table and chairs with pendant lights from the island.
Pascal’s atelier and headquarters is a short drive from the house. “Keeping my workspace and my living space separate is a luxury I very much appreciate,” she comments. “For work I’m usually in denim shorts and a white cotton blouse or a shirt dress that I can easily dress up or down with statement jewellery and a Parisian inspired red lipstick.”
Reflecting on the last 18 months Pascal admits: “For the fashion business the pandemic not only led to financial cuts – and gains – worldwide, but more importantly I think it made many people and brands within the industry take a closer look at what impact fashion has on the planet and people. At Magali Pascal we were forced to slow down from around March 2020 which led to us looking for short terms solutions which led to long term changes. We decided to create a capsule collection made purely from excess fabrics we had sitting in our storage room, allowing us to keep our factory in business as well as minimising waste.”
Now, almost 18 months down the line she is still applying these strategies to collections, finding ways to repurpose waste fabric and reduce waste. “We also designed a capsule collection in 2020 with a percentage of sales donated directly to the people of Bali, to help support those that were impacted most by the pandemic here. Indonesia is still very much affected, and we continue to do our best to bring our collections to life albeit the difficult circumstances.” Pascal has also been developing new categories including knitwear, outerwear and accessories. “At the core of Magali Pascal lies craftsmanship so I continue to explore this further, looking to integrate artisanal workmanship into my collections by collaborating with different communities.”
Her AW21 collection called The Loft has a 1970s vibe and takes inspiration from freedom and travel. “I explored traditional gender roles and played with the eternal duality of masculine and feminine. From high rise collars, to tailored heritage checks, to graphic floral prints and boyish outerwear, the collection is a mid-century modern time capsule,” she explains. There’s certainly lots to covet the collection is on point and pretty.
Post-pandemic Pascal admits that many women may be seeking comfort more than couture: “I do strongly believe there is still very much a space for us to exist as a brand – Magali Pascal collections are designed with the purpose of helping women feel confident, and that will never go out of fashion!”
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