April 16, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Sealed With a Kiss

Photography by Denise Crew

As Michele Bohbot prepares to celebrate 20 years of her Beverly Hills-based fashion label Bisou Bisou, it’s hard to imagine where she finds the time to be a doting, ever-present mother of seven and a loving wife; or finds spare moments for her beloved pastimes of yoga and painting.

But it’s keeping busy that the French-born designer does best, ever since launching her powerhouse label in 1989 — a business born from a healthy mix of passion and desperation; after her and husband Marc’s gym business dried up their savings.

“We came (to LA from Paris) and we invested everything and lost everything … so two years after being here, my husband didn’t want to stay here anymore. We were bankrupt,†Michele told WT as she relaxed at her luxurious Beverly Hills estate; her children studying and playing upstairs.

“We had three little children and I was pregnant with my number four. I didn’t want to go back. I was kind of feeling responsible because I dragged my husband to come here with a lot of promises and good future.â€

Despite Marc’s reservations about Michele starting her own fashion line due to her lack of experience, he supported his wife, who now spends her time between offices in LA, New York and Paris.

“Marc wanted to go back … the earthquakes, the pollution, the life here was very hard for us — it was a cultural shock,†Michele says.

“We decided we would at least make back the money we had lost by creating my line of clothes. My husband didn’t really believe me because he had a doubt about how a little girl with no experience in the design field, can start.â€

Her label Bisou Bisou, which translates to Kiss Kiss, is best described as Parisian street fashion meets modern American. The collection, sold exclusively in JC Penney, incorporates sportswear, denim, sexy dresses as well as shoes, outerwear, handbags, and accessories.

“I wanted to create a new look for America: sexy elegance without vulgarity,†says Michele.

“I wanted to give to every woman a small kiss and for her to have something from me in her closet.â€

That small wish, combined with her big dream, has helped build the life she and her family had always wanted.

The same passion that fuels her fashion business has spilled over to her love of yoga and art, with the whitewashed walls of her home adorned with her vibrant artworks; and her sculptured arms proof of her dedication to fitness.

Her love of art began as a child, yet she only recently began to devote more time producing paintings. With a focus on the four elements — earth, air, water and fire — Michele’s art is also wearable, as she is beginning to transfer some of her favorite works onto fabric used in her Bisou Bisou collection.

With her finely sculptured body, which could be mistaken as belonging to someone half her age, is achieved through mindful workouts, she says, rather than forceful, repetitive, sweat-producing movements that work against the body’s natural rhythm.

“You don’t need to be like a maniac and sweat or go and do yoga 24/7. You just have to find the right balance for you … to be passionate about it and love what you are doing,†Michele explains.

“I love working out so much because I don’t sweat. If you do it the right way and you’re having fun, it can be done.â€

Michele has been honored with several professional accolades including Best Contemporary Designer (2001 Dallas Fashion Awards), one of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World (2002) and the Raw Spirit Award for Esteemed Entrepreneur of the Year (2008).

She was also a motivational guest speaker with the Learning Annex and donated her extensive yoga experience to programs with the Boys and Girls Club of America and Step Up Women’s Network.

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