Can you tell us about your new Big Aristote hat collection?
It’s not really a collection, so to speak. Each model is unisex, and handmade using waterproof felt or lacquered straw. The hats are first produced in Spain, and all the finishing touches are carried out in my studio. I don’t have any overall inspirations or specific themes. The shape is traditional, but I enjoy adding something trashy or elegant to complete it. Quality is everything, because I want my hats to last. I see them as things people will give to their children, and I design them to be timeless pieces. There is a lot of renewal in the process. I keep the same models, but then I add others while trying to stay away from current trends. These aren’t the sorts of hats you get on a night out with “Havana Club” written on them.
How do you go from fashion journalist to hat designer?
I started at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale – a fairly rigorous couture school – because I originally wanted to learn how to make clothes. I considered a career in design, but I realised I had nothing to offer the fashion world. I wasn’t the worst in my class, but I certainly wasn’t the best. To give you an idea, I studied alongside people such as the new Art Director at Dior. I didn’t want to have the same pretentiousness, and I had actually wanted to be a journalist since I was a child.
Have you ever wanted to work anywhere other than Paris?
I am very attached to Paris. I was born here, and I grew up in the city. I could leave, but there’s nowhere else I prefer at the moment. My dream is to go and live in Argentina, but it’s a bit complicated at the moment. I could go to New York, but not to design there. While we’re on the subject, I don’t actually design hats, I draw them. Oh, there’s London as well, but I couldn’t go yet…
Do you think Paris is changing?
I think we’re trying too hard to make ourselves think things are changing and that there’s a new generation of young designers who are going to shake everything up. Whenever a young, French designer arrives, everyone says “great, that’s just what we expected!” When was the last time anyone was truly in admiration of a French designer the way we used to be with Christopher Kane? The French have a tendency to think too much about the concept before thinking about the clothes people want to wear. I’d like to see cool clothes that make me want to wear them, and not just because they’re “Made in France”, ethical, by a label or created by a 3D printer. French fashion talks too much. I want a place infused with the crazy energy of the next Christopher Kane, Erdem, Gareth Pugh and Mario Schwab, just like in England ten years ago.
Do you think there are now so many designers that people have to find something that makes them stand out from the crowd?
No, that’s just what everyone thinks. If you have talent then you’re set! Otherwise it means you don’t trust your talent. Take Harmony, for example. David Obadia doesn’t have a concept. He just makes beautiful clothes but he doesn’t try to show off about it.
Actually, people are saying that the omnipresence of social networks is spoiling the surprise for collections and shows…
Fashion shows are just a way of communicating. And the social networks aren’t spoiling anything. Even before them there was style.com (fashion show review website), so it’s the same thing. We’re creating drama where there isn’t any.
"When was the last time anyone was truly in admiration of a French designer the way we used to be with Christopher Kane? The French have a tendency to think too much about the concept before thinking about the clothes people want to wear."
Do you still work as a journalist? Do you have any other projects?
Yes, I’m a freelance journalist for leading publications such as L’Officiel and Marie Claire. I’m also in the middle of setting up a writing consultancy business and I’m working with different brands. I’d really like to keep developing collaborative projects like the one with jewellery designer Camille Enrico. We created the Zeebo Deluxe hats together, and soon we’re going to design a straw version with 24-carat gold jewellery hand-woven into the material. This whole line was never about money, but about human relations. That’s why I like collaborative projects so much. I have another one I’m currently working on with Les Filles à Papa, and another one coming soon with a huge pop star…
Do you have objectives?
I deliver to my boutiques whenever they want. My hats are in Bon Marché, Printemps and Merci in Paris, and I’m also in London, Hong Kong, Berlin, and I’ll soon be in Bologna. I don’t have a very aggressive strategy. I know I could sell more hats if I was more present on the social networks, but I don’t want to lie with my brand. I’m lucky enough to not need it to make a living. And if I was I’d have to lie and give away free hats to bloggers and celebrities I didn’t like. I don’t see why I’d want to do that. Joey Starr wanted one of my hats, and he went out and bought one. That’s way classier than most celebrities.
Don’t you feel like you should join the glamourous circus and advertise yourself on Instagram?
I’m convinced I’d have sold more if I had. You can’t succeed without it nowadays. Anyone who tries is sure to fail! So of course I used it a little bit. You can’t refuse social networks and think you’re going to beat the system. People just won’t follow you! But there are ways of doing it differently.
Do you think being anonymous in fashion is still following a trend, like 69 and Vetements at the start, (although it didn’t last long)?
I actually interviewed Demna Gvasalia from Vetements recently, and he was my biggest surprise of the year. He has no desire to change the system. He does as he pleases, but he’s certainly not trying to be the leader of anything. If anonymity is sincere then it can only be positive, as all the focus is on the clothing. But it’s now more often associated with creating hype. It’s just another concept…
Aren’t you bored of the fashion world?
When I leave work I’m not really in the fashion world. I don’t go to many fashion parties. I’m just incredibly passionate about what I do, meeting people, working with a pen in my hand, and putting people’s thoughts on paper when they can’t. My goal is to find out what designers are trying to express through their clothing.