It’s the stuff chick flicks are made of. Girl moves into new apartment. Girl needs wood work done. Friend recommends carpenter. Carpenter shows up at apartment. Carpenter is hot. Like, really hot. Girl loses her mind. Carpenter loses his mind. Girl and boy make baby. And live happily ever after. The End. This is pretty much how Murielle Scherre, a 36-year old lingerie designer from Ghent and Joris Heijlen, a really hot carpenter from Oostende, five years her junior, fell in love. “He walked in the door with a chainsaw on his shoulder and I went brain dead there and then,” she laughs. “He inspected the whole house for half an hour and I have no clue whatsoever what was discussed during this meeting because my attention was no longer present.” She didn’t have babies on her mind – “he was just on the boyfriend radar” – but that changed as soon as she really got to know him. “It was obvious he had splendid DNA but you never really know if he will be the daddy of your dreams,” she ponders. “I am kissing both hands to discover every day that he actually is!”
Murielle and I go back about ten years, to the day she started La Fille d’O, her “savvy but sexy” lingerie brand and my friends modeled for her. The brand was an explosive, controversial hit from day one for two reasons. First, her vision was simple but new: “There was no Martin Margiela or Vivienne Westwood in lingerie so I decided to stop smart mouthing about it and try and see if it was possible”. Secondly, she shocked the nation with nudity and got the attention, though tainted, she needed. “This is Belgium. If you make a right when you should be making a left you become famous here. So I picked the perfect country to start! I was in the media as soon as I launched because we were doing some quite dramatic shows and photographed women whilst not fully clothed; it was easy.” She also starting talking about sex and soon became the go-to starlet for all things erotica. In 2005 she wrote a book ‘La Fille d’O – Lingerie & Lollipops” which tells her life’s story and two years later ‘Kruisverhoor‘ in which she recounts her sexual affairs with the fifty-eight lovers she had bed up to then. She also made the news when she released a video with ‘real friends and real sex’. It was banned from television at first but then distributed with a sex-ed magazine.
But the faster and more furious the wind of nickers and underwires whirled, the easier it was to control. Today, she has a firm hand on her company and its steadfast identity, her loving family and her future. She lives with her boyfriend and baby girl Rocci in an abandoned, gutted harbor office (Joris still has his chainsaw…), left the city of Ghent for the openness and light of a seaside town, got two anchor tattoos to profess her undying commitment, and is ready to let go of anything that is not “beautiful and useful”, including a huge chunk of the five floors of vintage clothes she once owned and the 800-piece Barbie collection she once treasured. “I would have gotten rid of them all by now,” she admits, “but with Rocci I want to hold on to them and see if she likes them or not. She has a LOT of Barbie hair to cut if she decides to like them…”
But my biggest question simmers. Did Murielle also give up her personal style in the process? She used to be a cute mix of retro rockabilly and pin-up but the only visible remains of this look are her bangs, tattoos and head scarf. I ask her if Belgium makes it harder for people to dress creatively. “Actually I don’t think it’s hard,” she shakes her head. “I just find it hard. The problem is me. Doing the shoot with you made me decide not to give a F anymore and dress like I want anyhow. I can blame it on the sea breeze that drove me mad. Thanks for reminding me what fashion is all about. Clothes need to make me feel good. Support me. My lingerie is visually radical and strict but I like my clothes to be a little witty. Like the huge Tippex-white Dr. Martens boots. They are hideous shoes but their oddness makes me happy when I look at my feet. Or the line dancing bomber jacket I showed you. It’s an awful jacket but when I wear it I imagine all the things that jacket must have been through! I’d be a very happy person if all my clothes could talk, basically. And dogs too of course…”