Harmony

Harmony

David Obadia

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 25. I launched BWGH (Brooklyn We Go Hard) when I was 20, and it was pretty successful! As time went by I wanted to get away from streetwear and focus on my true passion for contemporary fashion. So I separated the two. Instead of taking the street side away from BWGH I founded Harmony alongside it, a real fashion House for real people and real life. Oh, and I’m completely self-taught!
Can you describe the new collection from Harmony?
This is the fourth collection, and it’s inspired by René Clément’s Franco-Italian film Purple Noon (Delitto in Pieno Sole in Italian), and by the incredible duo of Phillipe “Dickie” Greenleaf and Tom Ripley, played respectively by Maurice Ronet and Alain Delon. The total sentimental freedom and the perpetual joy and excitement that define Greenleaf, and that overcome everyone who visits Italy in the sunny summer months, were the cornerstones of this collection. The colours are light and natural, and the nuances of whites and beiges combined with navy blue are a nod to the outfits worn by rich holidaymakers in the 1950s.
In the film, Ripley steals Greenleaf’s identity to seduce his mistress, and clothing plays an important role in his transformation from a “real nobody” to a “fake somebody”. One of the first steps in this transformation is actually when Ripley tries on Greenleaf’s striped jacket. I have reinterpreted these key pieces in the collection, and presented striped jackets, light shirts and white jeans through Harmony’s architectural, minimalist mindset. The approach for this season is subtly combined with Italian nonchalance, more commonly known as Sprezzatura. The fabrics are airy and luxurious, I used silk for the shirts and light wool crepe for the jackets, which are matched with cotton gabardine, oxford cloth and magnificent jersey.
Do you define yourself as a Parisian designer?
I think so. There is a current generation of cool kids who are doing lots of different things, just like a lot competing brands and people I know. I’ve never seen so much talent, Etienne Deroeux, Coperni, Jacquemus, AVOC and Jour/né are just a few! But there’s room for everyone, and each brand has its own identity. Mine is very simple, drawing its inspiration from minimalist designers from the 1990s.
Streetwear has become inevitable today. Are you bored of it?
The only streetwear background I have is my experience working for Stéphane Ashpool at Pigalle for a year. I like streetwear and how it’s evolving, but if you like real fashion you generally don’t like streetwear. I love the energy in street brands and wide communities it appeals to. A fashion brand isn’t cool, but a street brand is. But street brands don’t really know how to make clothes, and I think I do. Well, I hope I do!
Have you ever thought about working for the leading fashion brands?
To be completely honest I’m considering it at the moment. I’ve already been offered positions in fashion Houses but I’d rather focus on my own project and vision. So for now I haven’t accepted any Artistic Director positions, even though it would make things a lot easier. Half of my work at the moment is as an Artistic Director, and the other half is a Managing Director, which I hate. I’d really like to just devote myself to design, but when you create a micro-brand you have to deal with everything, from press agents and sales teams to the bank. I don’t fully understand everything, but my brand is my whole life, so I have to go through with it!
What do you think is the hardest part of launching your own brand?
When I launched BWGH I was pretty clumsy. I jumped into things without even thinking. But competition in streetwear is much easier. In the contemporary fashion sector I’m up against people who have more money, a bigger team, and who might have employees with more experience and talent. I’m picking a fight with a giant, and the only things I have on my side are my energy and my vision.
Why is there a different level of competition between the two?
I don’t want to be a hater, but competition really is easier when you’re smaller. When you want to sell your work next to Marni, Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler, it’s a different story. Those brands can buy a double page in Vogue, they’ve got 40 people in their studio and they work with guys who graduated from Stanford and Harvard. And you’re just on your own with your collection in a tiny space.
But it can’t be easy being in competition with Nike?
We’re not actually in competition with Nike. We compete with Bleu de Paname and other smaller brands. For now they’re small-timers like us. My objective is to put Harmony’s pieces on the same floor as Louis Vuitton in Barney’s, and to have a boutique on the Avenue Montaigne. But we’re lightyears away from that! Today our competition has press agents in every country. We might get Robert Pattinson, but the competition will already have his private number! It’s more complicated. Some people think I’m crazy, but fashion is really the only thing I’m interested in. I’m going to keep progressing slowly but surely, even though it’s tough!
"When you want to sell your work next to Marni, Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler, it’s a different story. They can buy a double page in Vogue, they’ve got 40 people in their studio and work with guys who graduated from Stanford and Harvard. And you’re just on your own with your collection in a tiny space." [Harmony]
What did you mean when you said you were “clumsy” with BWGH?
I was really pushy at the start, if a boutique refused me I couldn’t deal with it, for example. I’m a lot calmer now, I leave that part to other people. I’ve understood that harassing the boutiques isn’t a good way to get them to accept! It’s like being with someone. If they want to come back to you, they will. There’s no point in insisting, and if you do you’re more likely to drive them away. I’ve learned that a true designer has an identity and sticks to it. I’m surrounded by very intelligent people, but when it comes to design, the designer knows best. I have my own vision and it’s great if people love it, but if they don’t then that’s their problem. At the start I used to say “I should listen to him, I should listen to her”, but all the designers I admire had their own idea and saw it through to the end. I mentioned Stéphane Ashpool before. When he started everyone thought he was mad. And now look at him! People criticise me for making the Harmony woman too boyish, or making the Harmony man look like an intellectual snob. But I stand by my choices. And I’m not just being stubborn. Fashion can sometimes make me very unhappy because it can be so difficult, but I am so proud of what I am creating.
Is competition fierce?
The competition thins out very naturally, as only the most talented people survive. And unfortunately most people don’t have much business sense. But you have to have it, as well as a being talented and ready to work incredibly hard. Every designer I know who has succeeded is completely mad. I might be a bit mad, so I’m surviving too. Founding a brand, getting your corporate registration documents and designing a few models isn’t very complicated. It’s a long-distance race. We’ll see if I’m still around in the next few years! At the start I wanted everything to happen quickly, but now I’m happy to take my time, I’m more easy-going. If Barney’s doesn’t accept me straight away I know I’ll be working with them sooner or later, because I have the talent and energy it takes and I’ve got a lot of support. The fashion Houses I admire the most have been around for a long time, like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. They have a real longevity.
You have carried out several collaborative projects as part of BWGH. Do you want to do the same thing with Harmony?
We’ve worked with Kitsuné, Opening Ceremony and Bon Marché, which are heavyweight brands. But I see Harmony as a work of art, and the best fashion Houses only work with other people when it make sense, with artists to add an artistic side to their vision, for example. For now I have to go it alone. I’ve been offered loads of collaborative opportunities but I’ve refused them. We want to exist on our own first. And if we end up working with someone it will be with a painter, a sculptor or an artist in order to focus on creation and design. I don’t care if I can’t say “I’m friends with so-and-so, they got me into this boutique”.
You saw BWGH as a label, and you made videos for it. Do you see Harmony in the same way?
Yes, and I still make videos. It’s a great communication tool, it allows you to display your identity. The idea with Harmony is to work with people I like and the same film-makers – Julien Soulier and Adrien Landre de Partizan – who followed me when I was nobody.
Do you think about men and women in the same way when you’re designing?
Chronologically speaking I always have a collection plan and a mood board, but as there are different deadlines and the men’s fashion week is earlier than the women’s, I always start the menswear collection first. As we’re a small fashion House I plan both collections with the same range of materials and colours. They’re designed at the same time and there’s a real link between the two. They both tell the same story.
Do you look at what other designers are doing?
I think everyone you interview will say no. The point of design is to think outside the box. I spend more time looking at art and architecture than fashion. My mum works in art and I spent my childhood in exhibitions and surrounded by paintings. I also read a lot of books about art.
What really gets your juices going?
Design. The hardest thing is to be both a designer and an entrepreneur. You have to be a bit schizophrenic, and I find it difficult. I hope I’ll be joined by other talented people who can make the whole process smoother. It’s not easy to hold a meeting to analyse my working capital and then focus on designing my collection straight after. I think Artistic Directors should be able to work in their own little world, listening to their favourite music and surrounded by other designers, while upstairs other people take care of the business side of things. It’s a bit difficult to have that at the moment. It might be a silly fantasy, but I’d like to stay firmly in the design studio. But for that to happen I’ll have to work like crazy for another five or six years!

http://www.harmony-paris.com/

Harmony

David Obadia

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 25. I launched BWGH (Brooklyn We Go Hard) when I was 20, and it was pretty successful! As time went by I wanted to get away from streetwear and focus on my true passion for contemporary fashion. So I separated the two. Instead of taking the street side away from BWGH I founded Harmony alongside it, a real fashion House for real people and real life. Oh, and I’m completely self-taught!
Can you describe the new collection from Harmony?
This is the fourth collection, and it’s inspired by René Clément’s Franco-Italian film Purple Noon (Delitto in Pieno Sole in Italian), and by the incredible duo of Phillipe “Dickie” Greenleaf and Tom Ripley, played respectively by Maurice Ronet and Alain Delon. The total sentimental freedom and the perpetual joy and excitement that define Greenleaf, and that overcome everyone who visits Italy in the sunny summer months, were the cornerstones of this collection. The colours are light and natural, and the nuances of whites and beiges combined with navy blue are a nod to the outfits worn by rich holidaymakers in the 1950s.
In the film, Ripley steals Greenleaf’s identity to seduce his mistress, and clothing plays an important role in his transformation from a “real nobody” to a “fake somebody”. One of the first steps in this transformation is actually when Ripley tries on Greenleaf’s striped jacket. I have reinterpreted these key pieces in the collection, and presented striped jackets, light shirts and white jeans through Harmony’s architectural, minimalist mindset. The approach for this season is subtly combined with Italian nonchalance, more commonly known as Sprezzatura. The fabrics are airy and luxurious, I used silk for the shirts and light wool crepe for the jackets, which are matched with cotton gabardine, oxford cloth and magnificent jersey.
Do you define yourself as a Parisian designer?
I think so. There is a current generation of cool kids who are doing lots of different things, just like a lot competing brands and people I know. I’ve never seen so much talent, Etienne Deroeux, Coperni, Jacquemus, AVOC and Jour/né are just a few! But there’s room for everyone, and each brand has its own identity. Mine is very simple, drawing its inspiration from minimalist designers from the 1990s.
Streetwear has become inevitable today. Are you bored of it?
The only streetwear background I have is my experience working for Stéphane Ashpool at Pigalle for a year. I like streetwear and how it’s evolving, but if you like real fashion you generally don’t like streetwear. I love the energy in street brands and wide communities it appeals to. A fashion brand isn’t cool, but a street brand is. But street brands don’t really know how to make clothes, and I think I do. Well, I hope I do!
Have you ever thought about working for the leading fashion brands?
To be completely honest I’m considering it at the moment. I’ve already been offered positions in fashion Houses but I’d rather focus on my own project and vision. So for now I haven’t accepted any Artistic Director positions, even though it would make things a lot easier. Half of my work at the moment is as an Artistic Director, and the other half is a Managing Director, which I hate. I’d really like to just devote myself to design, but when you create a micro-brand you have to deal with everything, from press agents and sales teams to the bank. I don’t fully understand everything, but my brand is my whole life, so I have to go through with it!
What do you think is the hardest part of launching your own brand?
When I launched BWGH I was pretty clumsy. I jumped into things without even thinking. But competition in streetwear is much easier. In the contemporary fashion sector I’m up against people who have more money, a bigger team, and who might have employees with more experience and talent. I’m picking a fight with a giant, and the only things I have on my side are my energy and my vision.
Why is there a different level of competition between the two?
I don’t want to be a hater, but competition really is easier when you’re smaller. When you want to sell your work next to Marni, Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler, it’s a different story. Those brands can buy a double page in Vogue, they’ve got 40 people in their studio and they work with guys who graduated from Stanford and Harvard. And you’re just on your own with your collection in a tiny space.
But it can’t be easy being in competition with Nike?
We’re not actually in competition with Nike. We compete with Bleu de Paname and other smaller brands. For now they’re small-timers like us. My objective is to put Harmony’s pieces on the same floor as Louis Vuitton in Barney’s, and to have a boutique on the Avenue Montaigne. But we’re lightyears away from that! Today our competition has press agents in every country. We might get Robert Pattinson, but the competition will already have his private number! It’s more complicated. Some people think I’m crazy, but fashion is really the only thing I’m interested in. I’m going to keep progressing slowly but surely, even though it’s tough!
"When you want to sell your work next to Marni, Jil Sander and Proenza Schouler, it’s a different story. They can buy a double page in Vogue, they’ve got 40 people in their studio and work with guys who graduated from Stanford and Harvard. And you’re just on your own with your collection in a tiny space." [Harmony]
What did you mean when you said you were “clumsy” with BWGH?
I was really pushy at the start, if a boutique refused me I couldn’t deal with it, for example. I’m a lot calmer now, I leave that part to other people. I’ve understood that harassing the boutiques isn’t a good way to get them to accept! It’s like being with someone. If they want to come back to you, they will. There’s no point in insisting, and if you do you’re more likely to drive them away. I’ve learned that a true designer has an identity and sticks to it. I’m surrounded by very intelligent people, but when it comes to design, the designer knows best. I have my own vision and it’s great if people love it, but if they don’t then that’s their problem. At the start I used to say “I should listen to him, I should listen to her”, but all the designers I admire had their own idea and saw it through to the end. I mentioned Stéphane Ashpool before. When he started everyone thought he was mad. And now look at him! People criticise me for making the Harmony woman too boyish, or making the Harmony man look like an intellectual snob. But I stand by my choices. And I’m not just being stubborn. Fashion can sometimes make me very unhappy because it can be so difficult, but I am so proud of what I am creating.
Is competition fierce?
The competition thins out very naturally, as only the most talented people survive. And unfortunately most people don’t have much business sense. But you have to have it, as well as a being talented and ready to work incredibly hard. Every designer I know who has succeeded is completely mad. I might be a bit mad, so I’m surviving too. Founding a brand, getting your corporate registration documents and designing a few models isn’t very complicated. It’s a long-distance race. We’ll see if I’m still around in the next few years! At the start I wanted everything to happen quickly, but now I’m happy to take my time, I’m more easy-going. If Barney’s doesn’t accept me straight away I know I’ll be working with them sooner or later, because I have the talent and energy it takes and I’ve got a lot of support. The fashion Houses I admire the most have been around for a long time, like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. They have a real longevity.
You have carried out several collaborative projects as part of BWGH. Do you want to do the same thing with Harmony?
We’ve worked with Kitsuné, Opening Ceremony and Bon Marché, which are heavyweight brands. But I see Harmony as a work of art, and the best fashion Houses only work with other people when it make sense, with artists to add an artistic side to their vision, for example. For now I have to go it alone. I’ve been offered loads of collaborative opportunities but I’ve refused them. We want to exist on our own first. And if we end up working with someone it will be with a painter, a sculptor or an artist in order to focus on creation and design. I don’t care if I can’t say “I’m friends with so-and-so, they got me into this boutique”.
You saw BWGH as a label, and you made videos for it. Do you see Harmony in the same way?
Yes, and I still make videos. It’s a great communication tool, it allows you to display your identity. The idea with Harmony is to work with people I like and the same film-makers – Julien Soulier and Adrien Landre de Partizan – who followed me when I was nobody.
Do you think about men and women in the same way when you’re designing?
Chronologically speaking I always have a collection plan and a mood board, but as there are different deadlines and the men’s fashion week is earlier than the women’s, I always start the menswear collection first. As we’re a small fashion House I plan both collections with the same range of materials and colours. They’re designed at the same time and there’s a real link between the two. They both tell the same story.
Do you look at what other designers are doing?
I think everyone you interview will say no. The point of design is to think outside the box. I spend more time looking at art and architecture than fashion. My mum works in art and I spent my childhood in exhibitions and surrounded by paintings. I also read a lot of books about art.
What really gets your juices going?
Design. The hardest thing is to be both a designer and an entrepreneur. You have to be a bit schizophrenic, and I find it difficult. I hope I’ll be joined by other talented people who can make the whole process smoother. It’s not easy to hold a meeting to analyse my working capital and then focus on designing my collection straight after. I think Artistic Directors should be able to work in their own little world, listening to their favourite music and surrounded by other designers, while upstairs other people take care of the business side of things. It’s a bit difficult to have that at the moment. It might be a silly fantasy, but I’d like to stay firmly in the design studio. But for that to happen I’ll have to work like crazy for another five or six years!

http://www.harmony-paris.com/