You started in ceramics. How did you end up in fashion?
I was young when I studied ceramics. I did an Applied Arts course with an option in ceramics because it meant I could work with construction, 3D and structure. But I know I wouldn’t stop there. Fashion just came naturally.
Even though you were spotted by Jean Paul Gaultier, you decided to finish your studies…
After working for a year at Jean Paul, I realised studying was so much more fun. I thought I should enjoy it until the end, I knew I’d be working for the rest of my life!
Can you tell us a bit about your autumn-winter 2015/2016 collection?
I had fun working with the idea of a man’s suit, breaking it down to make it more feminine while still keeping a masculine style and build. I generally draw my inspirations from architecture when putting my pieces together. When it comes to texture I like using materials with a natural, organic appearance. I use denims to create a stone-like structure and I sometimes include transparent materials.
You studied in Belgium. Was designing in Paris an obvious choice?
I came to Paris to work. I found a job straight after my studies, even though I didn’t really want to come back to Paris. I’d have really liked to work in London or New York.
Did you always want to create your own brand?
No, but everyone thought I would from the very beginning. And they’re the ones who finally convinced me! But I always knew how difficult a project like this would be.
What are the hardest things to deal with when you’re starting out?
Profitability. And that includes everything. Developing a brand isn’t that easy, and everything’s so slow. The fashion process is really fast, but it’s so difficult to make a profit. The biggest fashion houses make profit on other things, but not on clothing.
“As young designers, it’s hard for us to constantly chase after the leading fashion houses.”
With the Hyères and ANDAM competitions, aren’t you scared of competition?
I’ve started to be a bit of a competition veteran. I’m now on my seventh! The ANDAM gives you a certain amount of recognition. I entered the Hyères competition straight out of school, and I feel it’s a competition made with designers in mind. It’s motivating, and there’s money. And it’s not like there are millions of ways to get financial support. As a designer you can never wait for things to come to you. I also love the challenge of competing!
What does being on the fashion show calendar mean to you?
It’s really symbolic. Shows are really important to me. I used to present pieces off-calendar with less resources and more DIY fixes. And strangely enough I’m starting to miss it. I used to feel more comfortable, and I’m still not completely convinced by fashion shows. But I have to keep putting on shows because it’s important to present your collection through women who represent the brand and wear the clothes. It’s as vital as the music and the lighting. Presentations are more natural, more personal.
People say they’re starting to get bored at shows. Which direction do you think the Fashion Week should go in?
There shouldn’t be shows for the pre-collections, otherwise everyone will be sick of it by the end. I’m against fast fashion. And as young designers it’s hard for us to constantly chase after the leading fashion houses. I’m not going to do many shows, but it’s normal that the audiences are starting to feel saturated. They’re not as wowed or surprised any more.
Do you think today’s designers sell an image more than a piece of clothing?
Everyone has a strength. Some people are good at marketing, others at creating an image. All things that have become rare are now making a comeback, so I hope people will soon start focusing on the clothes again and put the image to one side.
Shows are no longer the only way of taking over the fashion world. Lots of young designers are now turning to more polished presentations. Do you think the fashion show blueprint needs to be reworked? What do designers get out of putting on a show?
I’m starting to wonder myself! I’d like to try and rethink things. It’s all about excess now, we’ve lost a lot of simplicity and spontaneity. A show costs so much only the biggest brands will be able to afford it in the end. And aside from the money, if there are too many shows the press will only go to watch the leading fashion houses. Young designers will soon get worn out trying to compete with the big names.
Is it your dream to work for a leading fashion house?
One of the reasons I do what I do is to try and work for a big fashion house. It makes sense to work as part of a large group to develop your own brand, or to keep creating things but with more resources. This trend proves what conditions are like for designers today!
From #2 Dull