Second-hand Rose

Posted by on June 10, 2024 in Blog, Consumer issues, Fashion, Living today | 2 comments

Cassandra Lemeilleur/Mathieu Pattier, Ouest France

Cassandra Lemeilleur is a fashion rebel after my own heart. Brought up on charity shop clothes, she had no reason to move on from them when she went to study at a fashion college in Bordeaux. But she hated it: there was absolutely no focus on self-expression. And her tutors were aghast at her passion for second-hand clothes – they told her it was dirty.

Rather than be forced onto the mould of Paris fashion, she went into doing costumes for film and television, though the contemporary comedies she worked on didn’t provide quite the same scope for festivals of lace and satin as in, say, a Marie Antoinette or Tous les Matins du Monde.

Her big break came when she returned to her home town of Granville, on the Normandy coast, in 2014. She was offered the opportunity to do a catwalk show as part of the Festival Electro des Traversées music event. She hit the charity shops to create her collection, and though she didn’t quite realise it at the time, her USP was born.

Present at that show was Granville’s Director of Senior Services, Christophe Lamoureux, and he had a brainwave: he commissioned her to mount a catwalk show featuring the residents of the town’s old people’s homes. One month later the rookie models took to the runway. This cemented Lemeilleur’s ambitions: ‘It was then that I understood what I wanted to do: to go beyond the garment and see the person inside.’

Her label Amour Collective was launched in 2018, showcasing recycled garments and fabrics. Half of the models in the catwalk show were over 60.

It’s clear that the process of creating the collection was as important as the end result: ‘Fittings are a time for exchanging confidences. I met widows and widowers, women who had been cheated on, victims of incest… ‘ In front of the mirror, people became reacquainted with themselves. ‘My parents always had white hair; I’m not the least bit afraid of ageing.’

Amour Collective went from strength to strength, and three years later Lemeilleur mounted a show, I Will Make Your Dreams Blossom, in the gardens of the family home of local lad Christian Dior. Not that she was intimidated, or anything: ‘As far as most people In Granville are concerned, he’s just always felt like one of the family.’

Last year she put on a show at Mont St Michel, with two hundred models and five hundred volunteers drawn from six coastal towns in the area. On the catwalk it was open house: ‘Big tough guys, little slips of girls, young, old, wrinkly, ill – we made up the fashion as we went along.’

Is there a signature Amour Collective style? Not at all. ‘Le beauté n’est pas dans le sexy,’ declares Lemeilleur in an aphorism that needs no translation. ‘It’s in the energy you give off, the lightness, the insouciance.’


  1. An inspiration to us all. Having just finished ‘ The New Look’ on Apple TV the story of Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, I am entranced with the world of fashion. A collection that uses charity shop clothes and older models is one to watch.

    • I would love to go to one of her shows. In the meantime, I’m waiting for it to be warm enough to wear some of the charity shop finds I bought during the winter!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.