Last night I sat down with Swedish-born Maria von Euler at the Renaissance store in Antwerp. It was Maria's first night of the global launch of her brand of high fashion headphones called Molami.
Two feet away from us, Uffie was soundchecking the DJ booth. Which was nice.
Molami is an attempt to move headphones away from the grab-and-go shelves at the register of your local hardware store and into the shelves next to Rei Kawakubo designs. Think luxury design, luxury material and luxury prices (ranging from € 150 to € 400). Exclusively for women.
Maria, who is the most poised woman you'll ever meet, apologises for her cold and after grilling me about my own opinion on her designs (which are favourable: I especially like the black leather version), explains how she ended up here, after three years of research and production, at the start of what looks like a two-month global promo tour talking non-stop about headphones, while Uffie entertains the socialites who have started dripping into the store.
So the first question is: "Why design a new line of headphones?"
Maria: "I wanted to use the way fashion looks at making things that belong on the body, the way things are draped, they way they feel on your skin, and use that in the design."
There have been many headphones that have been 'designed' by big fashion names. How is Molami different from that?
Maria: Those are all existing molds. The designers just change the colours. I wanted to start from scratch and really try to 're-invent the wheel'.
Were you aiming for a specific look, feel or function?
Maria: All of those three. Day one: let's put something on top of a head and see how it looks. Day two: what functions does it need to have? Day three: what does it sound like? We needed to get all of it right together.
How did you connect with Zound? (The company behind Molami and a.o. the Marshall headhpones. - ed.)
Maria: They picked me up quite early. They are a group of guys, mostly interested in streetwear and snowboarding and all that stuff. They needed someone with another approach to design and fashion and that person turned out to be me. So we first did a concept pair of headphones together, then I moved to Japan for six months to study design philosophy and then I did my degree project as a student, which became Molami.
What did you do in Japan?
Maria: Learn how to be patient.
How did you end up with Uffie tonight?
Maria: Our marketing director is a good friend of Uffie. There's also another female DJ involved in the project: DJ La Fleur, who is kind of my muse: she taught me how to wear music, how women lsiten to and interact with music.
How do women wear music differently from men?
Maria: There's so much difference. The practical side, how foldable the headphones are, is much more important than you would expect. It's not because we wear high heels, so not practical, that we do the same with our accessories. The headband must be washable. The fabric must be high quality, like the stingray leather we used. You need to think about the hair, how it works with earrings, think of all the make-up issues, the way the cord is shaped. We also wanted to look in at the details of how it looks and feels on the body. It's like luxurious lingerie. Even if you don't want to get laid, you would wear luxurious lingerie because you want to feel good.
You don't have to save it for special occasions?
You go running with stingray leather headphones?
Maria: Yes! You can wash them, you know. Leather also ages beautifully.
And what music do you listen to on your headphones?
Maria: I listen to books, too. But I like hard funk and ... Jazz, definitely. M.I.A. is the best. She has the best bass.
Early concept version inspired by Rei Kawakubo (via Landscape).
The entire Molami line is now available at Renaissance.
After the launch party, the afterparty kicked off with Uffie performing proper. I couldn't make it myself (kissing my daughter goodnight trumps partying with Swedish women and Uffie) but Rizon Parein could and was kind enough to send us these pics.