Profile: Barbara Asei-Dantoni

February 10, 2011

Text by Megan Haynes.

Photos courtesy of Marthe Aime.

“Nobody ever thinks about the collar,” says Barbara Asei-Dantoni, the designer behind the French brand Marthe Aime. “I want to explore something new.”

With the oversized, cascading folding ties, larger-than-life necklaces and head-and-shoulder hoodies, it’s impossible to ignore the collar in Asei-Dantoni’s collections. Her industrial-inspired looks are a result of her industrial design background, with a specialty in luxury design. She premiered her clothing line at the Toronto LG Fashion week last fall, but she started her fashion career by designing jewellery and accessories.

Asei-Dantoni likes to push the limits of wearable art. Her mother was a pattern maker and seamstress, so she says she was exposed to fashion from a very young age. She’s been drawing and sketching since she was five, and at 10 attended an art school in France.

However, it wasn’t until her third year in Industrial Design at the Strate College Designer school in Paris, that she she decided to turn her artistic eye towards fashion.

“I remember an exhibition at the Musée des Arts décoratifs de Paris – a Christian Lacroix retrospective,” she says. “It inspired me to create.

“I wanted to create something I could wear. It is very intimate.”

Her specialization in luxury design seemed a natural fit, and she landed an internship at the Montevago design agency.

“When I arrived for the interview… I saw all the drawings of bags and jewellery on the walls,” she says. The realization that she was in the right place struck her right there and then.

Shortly after, Asei-Dantoni launched Marthe Aime in 2008, with the help of her brother Steven.

“[He] brought his experience in business and marketing, and was an engine for [Marthe Aime],” she says.  “His energy motivates me to go further.”

Her mother has also been a big influence on her work. “As a seamstress, she has a view of the way clothes [fit on people]. Sometimes the creator thinks of things, [but] when you actually sew the fabric, it won’t work the way you want it.”

Asei-Dantoni adds that her mother’s expert eye helps her turn very creative ideas into reality, while still allowing for a perfect fit.

Asei-Dantoni’s resume is extensive, having worked for Cauval industry (as a furniture designer), an architecture agency (as an interior designer) and various stage productions (as a costume and stage designer). But the greatest joy she gets is seeing her current works of art worn on models.

“I have no words to express how happy I was [to see the designs on the runway for the first time]. When you’re drawing something, it is just a drawing. But when you see it – something born from your imagination – when you see it on a model, it is something very amazing. It is your creation coming to life.”

For more information about Marthe Aime, please visit

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