Are you happy to be back in the game ?
Yeahh ! It makes me miss my job which is great because I’ve never done that before, since I’ve graduated. It’s good to take some time off and to realize the really important things.
What was on your moodboard when designing the last collection ?
It’s really researching the underground gay erotic scene of the 1970’s San Francisco. It was a mixture of things. It is never really one message I have on my board. It’s always a few to create a tension. I was looking a lot of Mapplethorpe and the characters I find interesting. I had lots of images of Mark E. Smith because I was interested in the tension he brought.
Why this obsession with Mapplethorpe ?
The FW15 collection that was the last collection I did independently before I took some time off and I just did a single look and it was an expansion of that collection. I felt it was unresolved and I wanted to expend on that.
Do you prefer to look at the past for inspiration ?
Not in an nostalgic way. I fell like we never enrich by looking at our pas. We have to look in a way we have to define what is modern. I look at the past to see what is relevant now. I also look at what is fashion now, what people are now. It would not be fresh otherwise.
You did a video with Sharna Osborne. What inspired it ?
I’ve always been interested in communicating in different ways. And the film really work for me in terms of influences I wanted to bring in. So I was looking a lot of Kenneth Anger films and I listened a lot of Smokey and I wanted to use the music genuinely so it works having a soundtrack, it was integrated into the inspirations.
Today, it is a lot about streetwear. You didn’t give into the urge ?
I just have to respond to my instincts. I am a slave to my instincts. I cannot design a collection because of the commercial relevance. There is streetwear in there but it is used in a different way.
Knowing you have to sell the piece does not play a role in your design ?
Of course. But I try not be slave to commercial side.
Have you always have a passion for fashion ?
I don’t think I defined it as fashion when I was younger but I have always been interested in what people wore, why they wore it and in what context. So I was always interested in tribes and music and how people use clothing. I didn’t identify it as being a fashion designer since I was 19 or 20.
How trying to break into fashion ?
When I started there was not really menswear to speak of. There was no support for menswear, and even men’s buyers to begin with. It was really hard. Even though in London, we’ve always had support for small labels. When I started it was only womenswear labels until we start to go on schedule and it become much more easier.
"Les hommes ne porteront tout simplement pas certains vêtements – travailler en fonction de ces paramètres m’inspire davantage. Avec les femmes, on peut vraiment aller loin dans l’absurde."
London is the place to be for menswear designers ?
For the moment Yes…
Paris is too conservative ?
I haven’t been to Paris for a long time before this season and when I went to Paris I feel there is a real shift and something very interesting is happening. In Paris at the moment there is such energy on the street and young people are really interesting. It feels new.
In your lookbook you have a woman. Is it a shift to womenswear or is it just that you clothes are ambivalent ?
Women decided they would wear my clothes. I didn’t chose it in a way. It’s not a push to womenswear but an understanding that women wear my clothes.
Why menswear in the first place ?
It is just my aesthetic. When I design womenswear it looked boyish and I wear a lot of menswear myself. It is more authentic, it is what I care about.
Gender-blurring is a new rule ? or marketing?
It would be impossible to ignore. Today designers are blurring men and women together. It is really interesting, it makes sense. It’s one of the trend that have been dictated by the people instead of designers. In that way it is real and have a genuine longevity as opposed to a trend that people can pick on the catwalk and then it is adopted. It is the other way. It will last a while.
Womenswear is boring?
There is infatuation in both. It is a saturated market. There is a lot of excess staff. It is not that womenswear is boring, there is more than we need. There are rules in menswear that I find interesting. Men will simply not wear certain things and I find more inspiring to design within those parameters. You can really really push it with women to the absurd.
You said in an interview there is very little new this days…
It is a very interesting time in fashion. The old model is not working. It is an unsustainable model and it’s only benefit a few and I’m not even sure who that is. I feell we are in a difficult time in fashion. There is so much staff, I don’t know how people can fit.
What do you think is to blame?
I don’t think we can producing and selling the same way. The attitude is changing and design has to respond to that. I don’t know what it is going to tend into…
Burberry, Vetements, Tom Ford, etc. The fashion calendar is changing. Do we still need a fashion calendar?
No. These are old rules. Not relevant anymore. Women are wearing men’s clothes; men are wearing women’s clothes. People buy and consume fashion in a different way. And we have to acknowledge that. Of course the buyers need to come and other things but I don’t know what the solution is.
By Aurore Hennion, from issue #3