A Conversation on Love with Melinda Gloss’ Co-Founder Mathieu de Menonville

A philosophy student turned fashion designer, Mathieu de Menonville couldn’t answer my usual nightlife questions. I had loosely translated them for a man in fashion: “Can you find love in the club?” became “Can you find love in fashion?” But our conversation branched in unexpected directions because, in addition to being a businessman and a scholar, Mathieu just does things differently. He’s more interested in a trip to the countryside than a one night stand, and when he does decide to fuck, it’s in a “flophouse.” As long as we’re using ancient language, you could call him a modern-day cad. I met Mathieu in the bar at Le Meurice, where he eats his eggs benedict in the morning.

mathieu melinda gloss

Can you talk a little bit about what you do?

I created Melinda Gloss a few years ago with a good friend of mine, Remi de Laquintane. So that’s pretty much what I do, it’s a full-time job. It’s a matter of making collections, communicating, meeting people, doing collaborations. We like to do collaboration a bit outside of the fashion world, to communicate a bit differently. We were students in philosophy and we like to keep some links with the cultural part of the city. Recently we had a big event in Beaubourg, where we had a private screening. We asked Michael Cimino to come from Los Angeles to present his movie Heaven’s Gate. It was one of a fashion meets cinema session that we have twice or three times a year.

We tried to introduce cinema to people who love fashion, and fashion to people who love cinema. I believe we’re from a generation where we all like different things. We’re not one thing anymore. A butcher is not just a butcher. People in fashion usually have an interest in other things; people who are graphic designers are also photographers. We try to make the brand representative of this eclectic art of our generation.

Where do you take a girl in Paris when you want to impress her?

Uh, home.

Can you elaborate?

No, I usually don’t like to impress girls. Why would I want to impress girls?

Well, you like her. You want her to have a good time.

Okay, I want to seduce her, which is different! Where do I take girls…? No, I really take them home.


Well it doesn’t mean it’s going to end up straightaway, but I like intimacy with girls. I like one-on-one discussions, I like quiet places, and I like to smoke.

Right, and you can do all those things at home.

Yeah, and only at home.

Got it.

But that’s not going to help the reader of where to go.

What if you’re not going for intimacy? Describe to me your ideal one night stand.

Oh I don’t do one-night stands. When I want one-night stands I go to brothels. When I have dinner with a woman, I’m looking for something different.

So you wouldn’t meet a girl in a bar and take her home?

No, I wouldn’t do that. I would meet a girl in a bar and take her phone number, and eventually meet her during the day or at night, or bring her to the countryside, or do something. But not just for sex. Flophouses are much easier for sex.

It’s funny you use the word flophouse. That’s from autrefois. So, what’s the best pickup line you’ve used?

Ah, I’m sorry not to answer your questions. I usually don’t use pick-up lines. I don’t stay much more than 30 minutes in night clubs. I may take a few phone numbers before I leave, but never more than that.

Mathieu de Menonville with Rémi de Laquintane the other Melinda Gloss founder

Mathieu de Menonville with Rémi de Laquintane the other Melinda Gloss founder

So you just say, “Can I have your number?”

How do I get there, that’s a good question. I don’t know, I probably don’t just say that.

It’s probably effective.

Do you really think a standard pick-up line could be good?

Yeah, some. Some could be charming, but it has to feel like it’s not standard, obviously.

So it has to grab something special about the moment, it has to not be standard. It’s difficult when you don’t know the context. Let’s imagine I’m in a bar…what do I want a woman to tell me? “Let’s get out of here.” So we can talk. But something really…quelque chose très accrocher? No.

So the worst then, is something that’s just really standard? What do you think is the worst?

For a woman or a man?

Do both.

Woman is, “Buy me a glass of champagne please.” It’s awful, and I hate women who drink champagne generally speaking.

For men, “You’re pretty, you want a drink?”

So what’s your ideal style for a woman, at night particularly?

It depends on how she looks, like her body. But generally speaking, I’m really sensitive to legs and lips, so anything that would value them would work, definitely. But most of all, it’s all about the movement, sensuality. Not overplaying; many women want to pretend to be confident because they think it’s cool, and that’s the worst part.

Because you can see it every time, you can see through [the act]?

You can see it, and being prude, being shy could be sexy. Not speaking too loud, not ordering too many drinks, not wanting to be the heart of everything.

So subtlety?

I think today we like mystery. We say too much, you know. People go to the shrink, they talk a lot, and so when they talk to other people they say the same things. They open up very easily. We have sex very easily too, and at the end, what’s left with desires, frustrations, mysteries? I think to have desire, you have to have mystery between two people.

I don’t think you should keep the distance forever, but you should break it piece by piece, not everything at the same time. So a woman who’s a little bit quiet, who’s not trying to dance and impress everybody, a woman who’s not too obvious in the way she dresses, I think she’s more attractive.


So then the biggest turnoff is a woman who’s trying too hard?

Definitely a woman who’s trying hard, and a woman who speaks too loud.

I think that Americans naturally speak louder than everyone else.

Yeah I find that very vulgar. You’ve got to know I love Americans, but not when it comes to that. I mean for men it could be acceptable, because it’s something a little bit masculine, but for women it’s really not. You can’t be tolerant in terms of elegance when it comes to women; we can be tolerant towards men for that. A non-elegant woman is really difficult.

Melinda Gloss is a very feminine name, which I’m sure everyone has told you. So do you fall in love, fall in lust, or marry Melinda Gloss?

I married her because I had to. But I would recommend to have experiences with her. She has different faces: she can be this old, seductive woman who smokes too many cigarettes. She can be a sort of Jeanne Moreau sometimes, or she could be the young, cute girl. She could be the cool girl, smart woman. But she’s definitely not a wife, she’s much more of good type of experience. She’s a fantasy; she can’t really become real, because she has to be perfect. And that’s why she keeps inspiring us. A love that can last is never really true.

How do you seduce a woman?

The moments I like the most are when you know there is something that could be going on, but not everything is sure. To me, in seduction, the most important thing is to make that moment last. Of course you want to break it, you want to jump on the other, you want to get to the end. But that’s like a love suicide, you know? After we consume we just feel empty. We don’t feel as good as we thought we would. What’s really exciting is when we don’t really know. It’s important that there’s this sort of little game–not an ego game, but more a desire game–between the two. To entertain this game, the ‘yeah I want you, maybe I want you too, but…,’ to keep a kind of mystery about what you feel, it keeps everybody alive. That’s when we really feel excited. Don’t you think so?

Yeah. I mean, I hate that though.

Of course you do, because it’s burning inside! You just want it to stop. But at that moment, it’s exactly the moment you want to feel.

Because it makes it that much better once you get what you want.

Yeah, and it’s even good while it’s happening. I think we shouldn’t forget that sex is just a pretext for desire, it’s not an end. Of course there are beautiful things in sex itself, the sensual moments of the two people. Sometimes. Most of the time it’s a catastrophe. Especially in night clubs, you know. Everybody’s drunk and you leave, and in the end you don’t bring someone home because you want to have sex. You bring a woman home because you’re drunk and you don’t want to end the party, you don’t want to be alone in your bed. You’ve done too much coke, you’re afraid you’re not going to sleep, all these bad reasons. The victim of that is sex. Because what, you’re drunk, you just take off your clothes, you see the other’s body, you don’t really look good because it’s 4 am…no, I think nightclubs should be a fishing experience, not a catching experience. You need to meet fresh meat sometimes, so a night club is a way. Why not?

But the fish is not fresh anymore in the night club. You have to wait a day or two, I think. Otherwise you’re missing the point. And as I said, there are different ways to have sex. If it’s just a sensual moment, you can go to a nightclub for that.

So yeah, seduction is about mystery and sensuality. When you look at how a woman talks, you always imagine how she makes love. You look at the lips, you look at the skin. You’re talking, but you’re not really thinking about what you’re saying. And you project yourself: Would I feel good in her? That’s a very important question. But that takes a little bit of time to answer. Nightclubs are difficult–you can know sometimes, but not all the time.

Je suis très critique; I find in big cities, there’s a sexual misery, from everybody. Everyone gets laid, but there’s a sexual misery. Every time I have a one-night stand–I rarely have, but of course sometimes–I don’t feel good after. Not because I feel guilty or anything, but just because I don’t think I’ve done something beautiful. People are desperate. They say they’re free, but they dream of love and instead they have sex. ‘Oh I don’t have love, but I’m free, I’m open.’ No, you’re not free, you’re just trying to forget you’re not in love by having too much sex.

And I have nothing against having a lot of sex, but I find most of the sex is really not good. Sex and fashion are a little bit the same. What do you want, do you want Zara, fast fashion, or do you want to buy a nice, well-made piece once in awhile? I would go for the well-made piece.

And we go through this process with everything. With food, too much is not good, you feel bad and you want to vomit, you don’t feel your desire anymore. But being hungry and having a good lunch is amazing. Not to drink for a few days and then to drink good wine is amazing.

It’s just not possible to go to a nightclub every night, take a woman, have sex, and enjoy it. It doesn’t work that way. So, in response to that, I made my choices: seduction, and flophouses.

Where did you read that? Did you read that somewhere?

Probably, yeah. I don’t know, Oscar Wilde, maybe. You don’t use that word anymore?

at the Melinda Gloss brunch Couture at W Hotel

at the Melinda Gloss brunch Couture at W Hotel

No. You just say whorehouse, I guess. I don’t know, I’ve never heard anyone talk about it.

Ça lui va bien d’avoir un mot ancien.

Yeah, somehow less crude actually, when you use that word.

Yeah it sounds almost romantic.

So I know you like les belles choses; what kinds of presents do you like to receive from girls?

The present would definitely be a mistake if it’s something they buy me, because I like to choose everything and it would never fit. But weekends, holidays, that’s a good surprise.

Okay, so going somewhere, doing something.

Yeah, that would be something good. Or bring a third woman into the story, could be interesting too.

As a gift?

As a gift, yeah. Why not? I wouldn’t mind doing the same thing for her, but…What else? Yeah, something you consume with the other, not something you give to the other.

You said earlier that you think it’s unattractive when women order champagne. So what’s the hottest drink a girl can order?

Something I don’t know. I like when people have personality in everything they do. So of course if they wear the latest Berluti shoes, drink vodka Red Bull and go to Montana every night, it’s not very original. I’m asking for something a bit different. Champagne, of course some people like champagne. I don’t. But what I hate about it is just how people use it and what it represents for them. It’s what the cheap people think of being high class, and there’s nothing more vulgar than that.

If a girl tells me, yeah I drink this and only this, I like it. Having character. Like, ‘What do you want?’ ‘Oh, anything. Vodka tonic…’ Come on, like something or dislike something. That’s all I’m asking. Or being curious, trying something new. Curiosity is interesting. [I also hate] whiskey coke.

What about whiskey straight?

Why not? But then know which whiskey you want to drink, and tell me about the whiskey and make me want to try some of it. That would be good.

at the Melinda Gloss Shop opening

at the Melinda Gloss Shop opening

I agree. I always say that I want people to be passionate. I don’t really care what they’re passionate about; they could love insects and talk to me about beetles and earthworms all the time, but if that’s what they care about, then I’m immediately intrigued, and turned on. That’s all I want. But I think a lot of people want to please other people, so they’re always looking for which way they should go, and they don’t choose their emotions.

Oh yeah. Most people are a blank page on which their environment prints. Andy Warhol is a great example of it. He was so transparent that he was even avant garde. But yeah, I think your own taste and your passion means a lot.

That’s why people feel alone in the city. It’s not because they don’t see people, it’s because everybody looks the same.

They all blend together.

So where do you go to meet new people? You said you go to clubs sometimes.

Yeah, the usual ones. Nothing very original. No, I meet people on the terrace. I love when I finish my work, when the weather’s not too bad, from 8 to 10:30 pm, drinking a bottle of wine just by myself on the terrace. And usually I meet people then. Often.

I usually don’t inspire pity, but when you’re alone, I think people think you’re more human for it. They probably feel you’re sad, which is not the case. But you talk, and sometimes you meet people.

Do you find love in fashion? When you go to shows, or parties, whatever, do you think those are better connections because you’re in the same world, or are they boring?

No, they’re not boring. There are good people everywhere. But in the fashion world, I’m more like an outsider than anything else.

I didn’t study fashion, I don’t come from the fashion world, and I never worked for a fashion brand before I started my own. It’s not better or worse, I just come from a different perspective. And I like contrasts in people. People who are only fashion, or people who are only one thing is very boring. When people have different passions or different interests that contrast with one another, that should be a sign that there’s something very individual, very personal that they express. It’s usually more interesting.

So far, I haven’t met any love in fashion besides Melinda.

Article : Ella Riley-Adams