MŒA One-to-One Interviews
Inès Bensalah: a new business and lifestyle eco-friendly approach between art and high fashion creation.
She is creative, resourceful and inspired by a total positive attitude. Since 2019, Inès Bensalah has been the artistic director of the innovative eco-responsible fashion brand Inessa Creations she founded after getting a bachelor’s degree in Luxury Business Administration at the International University of Monaco. The outcome achieved in her studies has soon transformed all this into a win-win professional career. Despite her young age, she has already been given many acknowledgments to reward her skills in conceiving unique pieces, prêt-à-porter and haute couture and developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem inspired by the values of sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
Notably, she was awarded the Prix Emerging Made in Monaco, the Prix Entrepreneurship, the Prix Award d’Honneur, the Diplôme SERD Monaco (to pay tribute to the best Monaco-based companies). She was also included in Forbes Monaco 30 under 30 list ranking the most successful new-generation figures operating in the Principality.
She was appointed by Monaco Energy Transition Mission as Ambassador of the Pacte National de la Transition Énérgetique de Monaco (Monaco National Energy Transition Pact) as well as Ambassador of the international festival of Mode Creazione (Upper Corsica). She is also part of the Steering Committee and Young Designers Advisor at the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode (Monegasque Chamber of Fashion) as well the Youth Director and member at Femmes Leaders Mondiales Monaco.
Her sensitivity also leads her to be socially involved in supporting women entrepreneurship.
She is member of the Croix Rouge Monégasque (Monaco Red Cross), member of the Association des Jeunes de Monaco (Monaco Young Ladies Association), the Monaco Women in Finance association and the Belles et Battantes Haute Corse association.
Inessa Creations, embodied by an iconic Lyon, is grounded on genuine values to foster eco-responsibility, uniqueness and client-oriented spirit under the umbrella of upcycling by keeping the best style.
Sport athletes like Hugo Micallef, Monaco’s kick-boxing Olympian, was the first brand ambassador, sharing the environmentally friendly mood.
MONACŒCOART® had the pleasure to interview this promising designer, stylist and entrepreneur within an exclusive meeting with Inès Bensalah (I.B.) at Inessa Creations headquarters, on the 2nd February 2023.
TOPICS = INSPIRATION >> GREEN SENSIBILITY >> ADDED VALUE >> ART & FASHION >> YOUR IDEA OF SUSTAINABILITY >> WHY MONACO? >> SUSTAINABLE FASHION CHALLENGE >> NEW GENERATIONS >> FUTURE PLANS
MONACŒCOART®: Inès Bensalah, thank you for attending MOEA interviews. What brought you closer to the fashion world?
I.B.: I come from a family of doctors and artists who have always encouraged my artistic vocation. Since my schooling age, I have been used to give my best getting very good marks. I was at the same time very serious in achieving the goals but also imaginative and spontaneous. I was raised up with the taste of beauty, the pleasure of choosing quality and a great sense of femininity. In other words, I was fond of glamour and all that is perfectly designed. This vision acted as a true driver to keep firm values with long perspective. When I was a child, I started to draw inspired by barbies and decoupage, being a little bit ‘rebel’ with the constant desire to touch things, discover something new, ask questions to try to understand everything I saw. What I am today, it is the direct result of my childhood. I can define it as a balanced mix among research, reflection and responding to the time in which we live. Fashion has a strong philosophical side centred on the social developments. Making fashion also means telling stories. The catching phrase of Inessa Creations states: “you ar(t) the creator of your own life”. Hence, the metamorphic essence of its main mission aimed at touching people’s souls and hearts to mark a remarkable change in the society. We are willing to make customers finding the outer peace to their inner harmony in order to achieve the uniqueness that distinguishes each of us. I call it our “soft power” involving art, fashion and my business ecosystem. But it recalls the legacy of my identity. I have always loved aesthetics and handicraft.
MONACŒCOART®: How was your environmental sensitivity born at the same time?
I.B.: It is a feeling I felt naturally. When I was in the high school, I was really attracted by embroidered and finished fabrics by major haute couture fashion houses like the paramount Coco Chanel and other great designers. So, I began painting those inspiring patterns on second-hand fabrics that I could afford. I started then to create unique dresses based on reused material. What I made was tailor-made according to the personality of the one who would wear it. I thought crucial to involve everyone in the realisation of their clothing. Nowadays, I still use high fashion fabrics of popular brands, like Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, that I receive from well-established companies based in the Vosges region. I feel honoured to be able to collaborate with these great maisons. All this allows me to maintain a very high quality and preserve the French authenticity.
MONACŒCOART®: What does Inessa Creations offer apart from other emerging fashion houses?
I.B.: My goal was to convey my values starting from the first fashion collections I created. Thus, I launched the brand in 2021 due to the pandemic covid-19. The lockdown did not impact negatively on me, giving me time to better prepare for the kicking off, primarily creating my own design and finding out the most suitable stakeholders. On the basis of mutual esteem that I established with the Monegasque community I began to request the end-of-series garments in limited editions. The idea of sustainability also goes through the use of the only fabrics available at that time to conceive not more than 150 pieces per model following the principles of slow fashion. Some time is just for the creation and some time is just for the production. Moreover, both haute couture addressed for Fashion Weeks and the prêt-à-porter are designed to be biodegradable including packaging and raw materials (organic cotton).
MONACŒCOART®: What links your artistic dedication with fashion creation?
I.B.: I always start from painting or from any artistic creation that inspires me on the fashion front. I have always been inspired by everything that is handmade. All colours are organic by choice and I am the one who mixed the colours. I love experimenting and so I started to use even painting for clothes. Then, at the request of a customer, I reproduced a painting of a lion on a denim jacket that had an extraordinary success in the social media. I loved the idea of being able to customise clothing with my personal touch! My fashion line as well as my art, in fact, are addressed to all regardless of their age.
MONACŒCOART®: Fast Fashion is a major environmental or social problem. What actions do you think are most effective in breaking this impasse in terms of prevention and eco-responsible management of the entire production chain? What is Sustainability for you and how do you apply it in fashion creation?
I.B.: Raising awareness is at top! Investing in research, new generations involvement and stakeholder engagement is crucial to mark your business as sustainable. I am convinced that choosing a suit from my collection is a long-term investment for the good of the Planet Earth. Of course, human beings do not need to regress in technological advancement but we have to find new solutions. In my vision, sustainability is that idea of proximity that creates a heritage of values. It is really a matter of knowing how to grasp the teaching of the past, then reflect on the present to create the future. Fashion must be considered as a philosophy of life and a unique savoir faire to take care of others through pure energy and researches.
In my opinion, eco-committed fashion implies consciousness, recovery and processing of materials, fight against waste, crafts, creation, creativity, research, collaboration, curiosity and eco-thinking.
MONACŒCOART®: Why did you decide to settle in the Principality?
I.B.: I consider Monaco a privileged place to grow professionally. I feel totally integrated in the community and I have already started collaborations with major actors like the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode, the Monegsque Red Cross and the Brasserie de Monaco and some others that are being discussed. That also encouraged me to build up an international network. Inessa Creations is now in Monaco, Luxembourg, Dubai, New York and Paris. Thus, I would like to give life to companies totally based on local resources in view to reinforce the “Made-in-Monaco” fashion reputation. The brand is definitely a driving force to foster the Monegasque-French economic synergy and its values. The feedback received from the exclusive clientele of the luxury boutiques set in Monaco was extremely positive, from the very beginning. I am used to starting great to achieve excellence. Attending the 2019 Monaco Fashion Week in the presence of Alberta Ferretti, guest of honour, was a dream come true. Being here has already opened the doors to many possibilities, offering a safe and human-based environment, out of my native land, Corse, to which Monaco is closely linked, such as Milan, Paris and Romania.
MONACŒCOART®: I know that you are very committed to eco-awareness initiatives for young people, what feedback did you receive?
I.B.: With my great pleasure, I have recently had the honour to co-organise with Serge Gobbi, MTE ambassador as well, in charge of the sustainable actions at the Monaco Oceanographic Museum, the Sustainable Fashion Challenge. The workshop was held at the Oceanographic Museum on the 24th November 2022 within the European Week for Waste Reduction. The idea was to immerse them in a totally sustainable full-immersion day with special regard to the 'consum'actor' approach. On the fashion front, some of the leading brands based in Monaco, including Inessa Creations, organised a study group focused on how to make the best sustainable choices in dressing and influencing followers on social media to do the same, showing them how we can recycle, reuse and reduce in a glamorous and fun way our clothes and raise awareness about the ocean pollution and the impact of textile on them. More than 30 partners, 5 schools of Monaco and 70 students from the Principality attended this private event specially made for them in collaboration with the National Education of Monaco, the Environment Directorate of Monaco, the MTE and other sustainable companies, including special sustainable meals from High chefs of the Principality.
MONACŒCOART®: One of your main objectives is to involve the new generations at the heart of your entrepreneurial reality. What values would you put at the top of the list?
I.B.: Research, involvement of all generations, stakeholder engagement are crucial, too. It is very important to always ensure an exchange of ideas able to create a better future by involving young people and the local economy in big issues like climate change. Hence, the sustainable involvement of my brand that I care about. The thing that I like most is to see the positive impacts of sustainable fashion on the new generations’ mood. It is all a matter of transmission, education, knowledge and social collaborative brainstorm.
MONACŒCOART®: What are your plans for the new year?
I.B.: I have several ongoing projects including a collaboration with the Monegasque Chamber of Fashion for a sustainable festival in October. I will keep playing a key role in the Green horizonte Festival stressing the liaison between Calvi and Monaco in the footsteps of Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation whose branch is based in Calvi. This is extremely symbolic for me considering that the Chambre Monégasque de la Mode (Monegasque Chamber of Fashion) is also placed under the Foundation's high patronage. Moreover, I am already working on new collections and collaborations that I really like, continuing to support the environmental cause. I invite you to stay tuned!
To know more about Inessa Creations please visit: https://inessacreations.com/
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