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.
LM: What inspired you to collaborate to create Valentine’s Day chocolate gifts?
PM: 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!
LM: Tell us about the special Garden of Lace Collector’s Edition for Valentine’s Day.
CG: 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 with the floral design?
CG: 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.
LM: You’re both from Belgium – a hotbed of creative talent. Why do you think that is?
PM: 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.
CG: 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?
CG: 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?
CG: 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.
PM: 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.
LM: How important is it to preserve traditional arts and crafts?
CG: 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.
PM: 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’.
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.