Exploring the Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson Valentine’s Day Collection

Valentine's Day Chocolate by Pierre Marcolini and Carine Gilson

Luxurious Magazine’s Gina Baksa meets chocolatier Pierre Marcolini and fashion designer Carine Gilson, who have collaborated to create unique Valentine’s Day chocolate sensations.

Luxurious Magazine: What inspired you to collaborate to create Valentine’s Day chocolate gifts?
Pierre: We had been toying with the idea of a collaboration for several years. We are both from Brussels, and we share a passion for beautiful artistry, which we want to preserve.

Carine approached me with the idea of creating “Mon Coeur est de Dentelle”, and I suggested to her a chocolate creation: a house dark chocolate heart composed of a ‘Dentelle de Quimper’ biscuit and hazelnut praline with a hazelnut gianduja, topped with a lace of cocoa chips.

Usually, with collaborations, we’ll create just one product, but we decided to create a collection of four special products for Valentine’s Day: the heart chocolates, the macaroons, the Coeur with lace and a dessert. We had a lot of fun tasting them!

Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson Garden of Lace Collector’s Edition

LM: Tell us about the special Garden of Lace Collector’s Edition for Valentine’s Day.
Carine: This partnership is a present to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the chocolate house. It’s the culmination of our combined expertise presented in one box, whilst the collection is romantic and feminine, a nod to the world of lingerie.

LM: Is there a special significance to the floral design?
Carine: I was inspired to create the Garden of Lace design by a 19th-century Belgian lace shawl made entirely by hand that I found in the archives of the Fashion and Lace Museum in Brussels.

Exploring the Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson Valentine's Day Collection 5

LM: You’re both from Belgium – a hotbed of creative talent. Why do you think that is?
Pierre: Belgium is full of different cultures and very open-minded to the world. The mix of these several influences has a big impact on our creativity.

Carine: I think Belgium is a vivacious country with longstanding cultural traditions. Backed up by a combination of creativity and a certain willingness to take a bit of a risk, Belgian designers love breaking down boundaries by mixing styles and blurring traditional distinctions.

LM: Carine, your lingerie is exquisite. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Carine: I derive my inspiration from many things. I spend a great deal of my time rediscovering patterns found in my and Caudry lace manufacturer’s archives. But there is one particular element that is recurring in the world of Carine Gilson – the bird of paradise.

It represents dance, colours, ease and elegance, which is everything I express through the lace. It provides an inexhaustible source of inspiration and fascination.

LM: What’s new for you both in 2020?
Carine: I recently released my first book, ‘Garden of Lace, ’ published by Lanoo Editions. It is a monograph of my work and sources of inspiration. Other projects are going to be revealed but are confidential at the moment.

Pierre: There will be lots of new creations and collections. Easter is coming up, and for this collection, I worked with natural colourants made from fruit powder, and I also created new pralines.

We will also have dedicated Mother’s Day and Summer collections. Moreover, I will celebrate the 25th birthday of Maison Pierre Marcolini this September.

Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson raspberry chocolate heart

LM: How important is it to preserve traditional arts and crafts?
Carine: Preserving true craftsmanship is the core of my work. I have been working for 30 years with a fabric that has been made with the same mechanical methods since the end of the 19th century – Chantilly lace.

The silk I use is made according to a technique that is today classified as UNESCO’s World Heritage craft.

The techniques used in the Carine Gilson workshop are the result of slow, repetitive and precise movements that I have been patiently handing down to my artisans.

I place great importance on perfecting my couturiers’ movements, the way they cut and shape the fabric and set lace in silk. It takes two days and eight different types of artisans to craft one single piece of Carine Gilson’s collection.

Pierre: It is important to preserve, protect and deliver know-how, as this guarantees the quality of your product. In 2000, the European Commission decided to authorise some vegetable fats other than cocoa butter in chocolate.

This triggered me to question, would chocolate still be chocolate? I decided then to make my own chocolate from ‘bean-to-bar’.

Heart shaped chocolate gateaux

At Maison Pierre Marcolini, we receive the beans from five planters across the world: Madagascar, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Cameroon.

Once the beans are with us, they go through a production process, starting from roasting, which is a key element for the flavour, through to the winnowing, the cocoa mill, the conching, tempering and moulding.

I am very proud to be able to do this in Brussels; we oversee the complete creation process, which is our signature trait. At the same time, we educate our collaborators on the job of a ‘pâtissier-chocolatier’. I would love to open a school one day.

LM: How do you ensure you are following ethical sustainability?
Pierre: It is crucial for me to collaborate on an ethical basis with the planters in order to protect their know-how and their soil.

We signed a charter in 2019 mentioning three points: no child labour, no glyphosate, and we do not use cocoa beans, which come from hyper-productive trees containing CCN-51.

We also pay above the price defined by the stock exchange for our cocoa beans. These elements outlined give the opportunity to the planters to preserve their know-how as well.

LM: Do you have a celebrity following?
Carine: The brand is supported by international celebrities such as Kate Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Monica Bellucci and Naomi Campbell. We are also popular with Middle Eastern royals, who generally choose to stay anonymous.

Pierre: We are an official Court supplier in Belgium, and we have had several collaborations in the past with celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Olympia Le Tan, Peter Pilotto… and, of course, Carine Gilson.

Exploring the Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson Valentine's Day Collection 6

LM: Pierre, are you in control of the entire production process for your chocolates, cakes and macarons?
Pierre: Yes, we produce everything in Brussels. Besides the chocolatiers, we also have a team dedicated to our pastries and cakes. We just decided to relaunch our éclairs in Brussels.

They will be exclusively available from Friday to Sunday from our boutique outlets. Everything is fresh, and we are delivering new stock to our boutiques every week.

Macarons are also produced in our workshop, from the biscuit made with almond powder to the ganache. The entire Maison Pierre Marcolini collections are made from our workshop in Brussels with a team of 60 artisans.

LM: Pierre, do you personally source all your other ingredients?
Pierre: I try to visit the cocoa planters every year, and I also visit Italy for the Piedmont hazelnuts.

Exploring the Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson Valentine's Day Collection 7

LM: What’s your favourite chocolate from your collection?
Pierre: I am very proud of our Grand Crus selection of tablets with beans from Madagascar, Cuba, Venezuela, Cameroon and Ecuador.

The Coeur framboise has been one of my signature chocolates since the very beginning, and the macaroons, specially made for the Valentine’s Collection, are my favourites.

LM: What’s the secret to keeping romance alive?
Pierre & Carine: Chocolate and lingerie!

Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson – Where and How?

To purchase Pierre Marcolini Valentine’s Day gifts, visit eu.marcolini.com.

For more information about Carine Gilson, visit www.carinegilson.com.

Read more interviews in our dedicated section here.

Exploring the Pierre Marcolini & Carine Gilson Valentine's Day Collection 8

Gina Baksa

Luxurious Magazine Reporter

Gina is a freelance features and lifestyle journalist and regularly writes for international travel and lifestyle titles. From testing supercars to glamping in the Kruger, getting up close and personal with the magical White Lions of Timbavati to experiencing the power of plant medicine in the Peruvian Amazon, her travels have seen her leap out of planes, dive on the Barrier Reef, go walkabout in the Aussie Outback and shark cage dive in South Africa. She interviews celebrities and influencers, and relishes engaging with and sharing the human story behind luxury brands and personalities. An avowed Francophile, she speaks fluent French and German, is learning Spanish, and recently published her first children’s book. She is a world traveller and adventurer with a passion for writing about real estate, gastronomy, film, supercars, spas, travel, boutique hotels, and personal development, as well as covering launches and events. Having lived in Australia, New York and the south of France, she is currently based on London’s vibrant South Bank and regularly travels worldwide on lifestyle and travel assignments.

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