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Marie Beltrami

What fires your creativity? What inspires you? 
I draw on my surroundings - what I see, hear and dream. Anything can inspire me. I might see something, in the street, on the floor or on my desk, and then suddenly things fall into place; I don’t even need to try putting it together.  Alexis' cat (Mabille) had a toy it played with, a little foam mouse, which no one would normally pay much attention to. I couldn't say who found who first, but that’s where the mouse ring came from. It was the same for the metro tickets I used to make bags in 1980.

Who are the people you really admire in your profession? 
When you admire someone, it’s an emotional thing - they make you feel something. Yves Saint Laurent had a big impact on me. I used to cry at every show because it was all so perfect and just right, and he never did anything he didn’t really love. Arletty too. The moon in my book talks like her, with her resonant voice, her unforgettable jargon and street slang. Apart from people I really admire, there are people I feel something in common with, without even knowing them, like Elsa Schiaparelli. I didn’t know her work but our creations seemed to echo each other as if we were related somehow. And of course, there’s Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler. We’ve always grown together, in parallel. 

What compliment would you like to hear or hear again about your work? 
That I was bold. Someone once said that about me.  Often you need to take risks to get attention - criticism or praise - in order to know if you’ve got it right.

Is there a city or destination that inspires or reflects your personality? 
I feel good everywhere. I've never neededto go far.. My home is where I feel centred and I construct things. I like the idea that you can be your own destination and create something from nothing. That's what I had to do when I wrote my book. I wrote without knowing where it was going. And there’s Rome, where I get a strange feeling of déjà vu. My father was Italian. He fled the regime and didn't want us to go back. When I finally went there, it was very emotional. I felt at home. Some places call us back. 

How would you describe your personality and approach to life? 
I’m free. You can’t be bold if you’re not free. So, I am free in everything I do, free to do what I want with my time, to give my life the direction I want. I’m an eternally undisciplined person. That’s been me through and through ever since I was a child. I hated being told what to do even then. I defied the hierarchy. I got punished a lot. I despised convention. I had my son when I was 16, against everyone's advice. One day, he told me that I had given him the right to life. Someone who says that is giving you an enormous gift. At 16, I was already determined (determined to keep my child). I didn’t fit the mould at all. "... People sometimes criticise me for this eclectic side. I was ahead of our time, because now it’s a common expectation to be multifaceted.

Favourite colour? 
Contrary to what one might expect, it’s not pink. If I had to choose, black would be my preferred colour.  I got pink hair by chance. I was making this video clip for La Française des Jeux with Arièle Dombasle. I was in charge of the costumes and I made the models wear pink wigs. One day, we were filming and afterwards I wore one to go shopping in some department stores. It made people smile and put them in a good mood. I wanted to carry on giving people this feeling, perhaps like in my first job, as a nurse, when I was doing something for people who needed it. People have been giving me pink things ever since.

What’s your best achievement? 
My book because it was the longest, most difficult and at the same time the most fun thing to do. I started it ten years ago, when I heard the nickname Jack Kennedy's father gave to his son's mistress, a former Miss Denmark suspected of being a Nazi agent, "Inga Binga", and it triggered something in my mind. The nickname startled me. I wrote it down on a piece of paper that I lost and then found again. I wanted to write a tale about an Inga Binga who would have little to do – in the end – with the original one! I put everything that was going through my mind into this book, and again in total freedom. The hardest part was finally to close the loop because my imagination had gone completely wild. I had to work hard, seek, and finally find.

Do you have daily rituals that you follow? 
I have a great ritual that will seem strange to some people but which I’ve been doing for a very long time: a cold bath for the buttocks. Every morning, I put on several sweaters - you have to keep your upper body warm - and I soak my buttocks for five minutes in very cold water while I put my feet in the air. I recommend it. 

What sort of creation annoys you? 
There’s a real lack of sincerity when people copy others.

Where’s your favourite spot, the place where you can usually be found?
I'm almost always at home, otherwise I like to go to Café de Flore. It's a place that fills me with really positive vibes. 

Your most cherished object? How much does it weigh? 
Maybe my book. Not only because I spent a lot of time on it, but because I had to read a lot. I mention a lot of people without whom I could not have completed it. It is the sum of all that. It weighs 393 grammes.

What matters in life? 
My relationship with others as well as with myself, and freedom - freedom without revolt, but in harmony with what we are deep down. 

Which LE GRAMME pieces do you own? How do you wear them? What about LE GRAMME jewellery appeals to you? 
I have the 67g cuff bracelet in Sterling Silver. I wear it mainly with my "chicken foot" pendant. I made this piece of jewellery as a tribute to my friend Edwige who always had a real chicken leg hanging from her jacket... I recreated it for Eva Ionesco's film. I like this bracelet for its simple, perfect beauty. I like the simple, perfect beauty of this LE GRAMME bracelet. I always really envied its streamlined design.

If LE GRAMME were a quote, what would it be? 
LE GRAMME was hot on the heels of the world and foretold its inevitable victory on the wrists of human beings....
reworking of lines by *John Donne


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