Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ann Demeulemeester (2005)

[She burst onto the fashion pages to decades ago with designs that were called "deconstructionist." Today she is revered for clothes that respond to the intricacies of the body with quiet drama.]

JEFF: Belgium wasn't known for its fashion designers until the mid-'80s when you, Martin Margiela, and your other classmates from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp came along.
ANN: We started from zero, so nobody was expecting anything from us. But we were all very ambitious and had a kind of chemistry together. The only way to show the world that Belgium even had designers was to create something really good and different.
JEFF: As a student, were you looking at Comme des Garçons and agnès b.?
ANN: It was more like Mugler, Montana, and Versace. Punk had just started in London. Because Belgium is right in the middle of Europe, we felt its influence immediately.
I was so inspired by punk — it made me feel revolutionary and strong. That has stayed with me. The things that happen when you're seventeen or eighteen really shape you.
JEFF: How was that received by your teachers?
ANN: I wanted to revolt against school. I had a teacher at the Academy who loved classic Chanel. She tried to teach me how to make clothes like that. But I didn't want to make Chanel clothes, you know?
JEFF: Classicism implies a certain balance and order. Everything is proportional. Your work adds another dimension.
ANN: I want to cut nonchalance into my clothes. To do that, you have to work with balance. For example, a jacket pocket will hang differently after you've put things in it. Clothes will eventually take the shape of your body — a favorite coat will have a completely different soul than an identical jacket before it has been worn. The idea that garments are alive is a big inspiration. I want to fill them with soul. I've worked on that for a long time through the cut, the fabrics, and the treatments. I want to create the shape of your arm in the sleeve of the jacket.
JEFF: Did you develop this approach when you were in school?
ANN: No. You don't learn everything there. [laughs] At school, I had to learn technique and make historical costumes. But I happened to be part of a particularly ambitious class — why we were all there at the same moment, I'll never know.
We all worked like crazy, but we all ventured into very different directions. We fought a lot. If I loved punk, and another designer was into disco — that could cause a big fight.
JEFF: Was there a particular moment when who you are and what you do came together?
ANN: There hasn't been one exact moment when I thought, "This is my moment." Because I'm a hopeful person, I hope I can create many of those moments. Any time you have a great idea is a good moment. I'm very grateful for all the good moments I've had and for the people around me, the love in my life. But I never say, "Okay, I did it, it's fine." I'm always looking forward.
JEFF: I imagine that designing clothes for men is totally different than designing for women.
ANN: Yes and no. I follow the same rules, and I'm interested in the same look. But men's bodies are completely different. And women are used to being more playful with their clothes. It's okay for a woman to wear a man's suit and tie. But if a man came in here wearing a skirt and a fancy blouse, we would all laugh. As a woman, I can choose which side I express, but it's different for men. They are very straightforward with their clothes, which I appreciate.
JEFF: And what about their lives?
ANN: Men are not into a lot of role-playing. They just are who they are. Their attitude is, "Am I going to look confident today? Relaxed?" They know what they like to wear. Women search more. There are so many possibilities for us — it's more exciting, but it's also more difficult.
JEFF: You started your men's line in 1996. What was the impetus?
ANN: My husband and male friends were begging me. I said, "Okay, I'll do a small wardrobe." I didn't want to add another collection. But I showed it, and it sold — apparently there was a need that I could fill. I work with my husband's body in mind. I'm not in a girl's club. I always work with my husband.
JEFF: Is he a designer?
ANN: Originally he was a photographer. We were teenage sweethearts — we've been together since I was seventeen. Growing up together, we have everything in common. When I started out as a designer, he was working as a photographer. At a certain point we felt that if we both followed our own creative directions, it would separate us. As a creative person, he could have devoted himself to photography, painting, or design. But he said, "You need help, so I'll stop what I'm doing and help you. Then we can both concentrate on the same thing." He felt that as long as he could tell his story, he would be happy.
JEFF: So he has always given you feedback on your men's clothes?
ANN: Absolutely. It's very important because he and I have different criteria for judging them. I'll say, "This is beautiful," and he'll say, "I feel wrong in this." So we start again, until I arrive at an idea that feels right to him.
JEFF: You work a lot with textiles and fabric treatments. I saw some fabrics in your showroom with photographs of horses printed on them.
ANN: I've loved horses since I was a child. A few months ago, I was thinking about doing something with horses, but not the typical thing. I wanted to catch their beauty, the shiny strength of their skin. I knew I needed a photo that would capture that quality. So I started doing research, and I came upon Steven Klein's work. One of his photos had the shine, the muscles, and the veins that I was looking for.
JEFF: Kind of like your clothes.
ANN: Yeah. So I phoned him, told him my idea, and asked if I could use his photo. I told him, "Your picture expresses what I want to express." He sent me pictures, and I got to work. I printed this horse image on silk with an inkjet printer.
JEFF: Do you ever travel for inspiration?
ANN: I don't travel.
JEFF: So your clothes only draw on your life in Belgium?
ANN: No. I make clothes for the whole world! I sell a lot of clothes everywhere! [laughs] JEFF: Yes. But, your fans in Tahiti aren't going to wear your signature heavy leather boots.
ANN: Maybe not. But the fashion seasons are always off, anyway. The summer clothes come into the shops in January. I should put boots in my summer collection — people would buy them because they'd come out in the wintertime.
JEFF: Do you think that being Belgian has something to do with how honest and straightforward your clothes are?
ANN: Yes. There is something about our national character that is quite unpretentious. We're sincere, even humble. Maybe that's reflected in my clothes. I think a designer's background and culture are expressed in an uncontrolled way. I don't have a choice about it, it just comes out.
JEFF: Is there a particular type of person who wears your clothes?
ANN: I really follow my heart when I make a collection — I'm not designing for a type. People can mix and match and adjust the clothes to fit into their lives. I don't know exactly who will end up wearing my clothes. It's like creating a present for an anonymous person.
JEFF: Is that why you don't use logos?
ANN: I prefer meeting a real person instead of a label. The clothes can never be more important than the people themselves. They have to become part of them, part of their world.
JEFF: You love black and white. Do you ever have the urge to throw in a dash of, say, yellow?
ANN: Probably not. But never say never, eh? I ask a lot of questions when I'm designing. What do people want? What can I add that isn't there? I'm a very serious person. I don't want people to look ridiculous. I want them to be beautiful and human, not like dressed-up dogs.
JEFF: Actors work in ensembles and musicians usually play together. But writers work alone, holed up in their homes or offices. I have the feeling that being a designer is like being a writer — that it's very private.
ANN: In my case at least. I don't go to parties or lead a very glamorous life. I'm always working, studying, and searching. Sometimes I suffer by asking too much of myself. Designing is not an easy thing for me. I don't know how long I will go on doing this, because I can only do it very well or not at all.
JEFF: You've being doing it for a long time.
ANN: Yes, but I've never planned ahead. I just go from one season to the next. If I ever feel like I've told my story in this medium, it'll be time to move on to another.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Behati Prinsloo

o2w: How did you begin modeling?

Behati Prinsloo: I was 15 and on holiday in Cape Town. A photographer gave me Storm's number, but at first I didn't want to go because I didn't really know what was going on. I thought it was a scam because he just wrote the number on some paper but my mum’s brother said “No, no, Storm is huge. You have to go.” I went there and they took me on. Then a couple of weeks later Noelle from Storm in London saw me and they decided I should go to London.

o2w: Did you know much about modeling before you were scouted?

BP: Well I knew what it was but I didn't really know much more than that. Some girls dream all their lives about being a model but it wasn't something I'd thought about. But I'm really glad to be in the business now because it’s so much fun. The only magazines we have in my village are Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated. We all heard of Vogue but never saw it. I didn't even know who Kate Moss was until someone showed me a picture of her and said she looks like me. Then I started noticing her everywhere I looked and I loved her style.

o2w: Had anyone in your school or village ever said that you could be a model?

BP: Well I was always the tallest in the class, which was really embarrassing because I was taller than the boys too. Some of the grown ups said I should be a model. I only thought about it when the photographer gave me the number.

o2w: What do your parents think about your career?

BP: My dad is a pastor, it’s like a priest. He really supports me and gets excited about it. I know there are some things not to do because he wouldn't approve of it and he trusts me not to, like being naked in a shot—my whole town would disown me [laughs]. My mum called me the other day to say that she saw me on Fashion TV, she was so excited.

o2w: What were you doing before modeling?

BP: I was studying at school and I would come home and play hockey or netball, there was nothing else to do. Everyone went to the same school and around the town there are loads of farmers so all of their kids went to the school too.

o2w: What's it like where you're from in Africa?

BP: I'm from a really small place in Namibia. There is no cinema, no club, there is only one school and everyone knows everyone's business. They have a couple of supermarkets and a few clothing stores. It’s a really big country and everything is so far apart; between the different towns there is nothing.

o2w: So what was it like when you first came to London?

BP: It was so different from what I expected. I came on a weekend with two other girls from South Africa. The streets were so busy with cars and it was tipping with rain. I think I expected a lot more actually because I remember the airport was so small compared with Johannesburg. After a while I really started to like it, it’s like home now.

o2w: Could you speak English well when you arrived?

BP: Yes we use English back home. All our books are in English. We speak Afrikaans to each other though.

o2w: Do you know of any big models from South Africa?

BP: No not really, I only know of one famous person: Charlize Theron, the actress. There aren't any famous models from South Africa! But there are really good looking guys there [laughs], well I think so. There are so many South Africans in London too and they're all hot.

o2w: What was your first modeling job?

BP: I did a job for Italian Vogue, but don't laugh when I tell you about it. I was so excited about it. Then they told me it was just going to be a picture of my feet [laughs].

o2w: What has been your favorite job so far?

BP: It was so good to work with Mario Testino and Paolo Roversi on Vogue. It was a great experience and I went to Paris for the first time.

o2w: Is there much difference between working with famous photographers and less established ones?

BP: Well the famous ones have a lot more assistants [laughs]. They know exactly what they want from the shoot. Sometimes you work with a photographer and they don't really know what they want but the big ones know exactly how its going to be which makes it easy. The worst thing is when a photographer says “Do what you want,” because it’s always going to be wrong because it’s not what they want.

o2w: What campaigns are you doing at the moment? Is there any campaign you would love to do?

BP: I'm going to be in Aquascutum and Marc by Marc Jacobs next season but my H&M is coming out in December. I would love to be in campaigns like Dolce & Gabbana. I love the D&G campaign too with the big wigs. Also Valentino, Dior, and Marc Jacobs.

o2w: Do you have any favorite designers?

BP: I love, love Prada shoes and I like some clothes I've worn on shoots like Dior. There are too many to name!

o2w: What are your beauty secrets?

BP: I don't wear a lot of makeup. On jobs you're always wearing so much so I go natural for a change. I use moisturizer, that's really good and a little bit of mascara is nice. I use Dermalogica face wash, Aveda Damage Control conditioner and normal shampoo. Sometimes hair stylists ruin your hair, you see it falling on your lap and you want to cry so you have to take extra care of it.

o2w: Do you feel that female models are under pressure to stay in shape?

BP: I don't feel any pressure but you know, you need to do it for yourself. If you eat too much or whatever you aren't going to fit into the clothes, and if you don't fit, you aren't going to do the show. The agency doesn't put any pressure on you, they will advise you to maybe do some exercise but ultimately it’s up to you to look after your body. It can be tough for some girls.

o2w: You are really healthy looking now. Do you feel you need to be thinner?

BP: No, not really at the moment, there are some girls who look thin and sick, especially in Milan. I think that puts pressure on other girls too because they think that if they get thin too they will work more.

o2w: What's the coolest thing that's come from being in the industry?

BP: Going up the Eiffel tower was so magical, I saw the whole of Paris and I wanted to cry. Also in New York seeing TRL was crazy because we watch that at home in South Africa. I haven't really had anything amazing happen yet but I really, really want to meet Kate Moss.

o2w: Who taught you how to walk?

BP: I went to a woman who used to be a catwalk model for an hour and she helped me find my own style of walking.

o2w: Have you had any embarrassing model moments?

BP: Luckily I haven't had one so far! I haven't fallen over on the runway.

o2w: What's it like being with Storm Models?

BP: Well obviously I think they're the best [laughs]. The bookers are so nice and everyone gets along, you know everyone and they try their best to get you the top jobs. I will stay with them forever, except when they're really mean to me [laughs].

o2w: What do you like to do in your free time?

BP: I love to go to the movies, I love socializing, going to parties and being around my friends. I go shopping too. Everyone dresses uniquely here [in London]. Everyone has something a little bit different about their style.

o2w: What do you want to do in the future?

BP: When I was young I wanted to be a dermatologist or an air hostess. When you're young you have a different dream every other day I guess. Right now I want to go to New York and do lots of work there. I think that's every models goal, to go and get the big jobs. I want to travel the world with friends of mine, see everything and experience it.

o2w: Any advice for our readers?

BP: Always be positive in every situation, laugh a lot, definitely, smile and be happy, that will keep you young.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stella Tennant (Jan,2006)

WHEN I arrive at Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station to meet Stella Tennant, who is photographed on no fewer than six pages of the new Vogue modelling the new Burberry Prorsum collection, I am prepared. I am in a Burberry raincoat, Burberry floral shirt and grey Burberry V-neck sweater. This is what you wear to the Scottish borders, isn't it?
But when Stella, 35, hares up to the station in the most beaten-up, mud-splattered car I have ever seen, she is wearing an old parka, jeans that reach only halfway down her calves (she is 6ft) and Converse sneakers that have seen better days.

Her hair is bleached and sticking up on end, and she is bare of make-up. Shouldn't someone who has been acclaimed as a Great British Beauty at least have the latest Chanel winter balm on her lips? "I never bother with skin creams or make-up or hair conditioner or anything," she says cheerfully as she pulls away from the station. "Good skin, great beauty, it's all down to good genes."
She has been dealt her fair share of those. Her maternal grandmother is the Duchess of Devonshire, the former Deborah Mitford, who, at the age of 85, is still active and elegant. "I persuaded Granny to do a shoot with me and Bruce Weber not so long ago," Stella says, "and as well as posing with her beloved chickens in a Traina-Norell ball gown, she put on a black Helmut Lang jacket with white cuffs and she just looked stunning."
The legendary Mitford sisters (Stella never met her great-aunt, Nancy, author of Love in a Cold Climate, who died before she was born, but has fond memories of Diana, who married Oswald Moseley) must have an incredible wardrobe that Stella raids? "Oh no, dressing up in my grandmother's clothes is just not me," she says. "If the elegant gene was going to kick in, I think it would have done so by now, don't you?"
After half an hour in the car, we career through a pair of impressive gates, up a winding track and there is Stella's house, a Georgian mansion built in 1741, with eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, even its own stream and elegant little bridge. It all looks worryingly idyllic until we enter the bootroom and it is like a scene from one of Nancy's books: dog baskets, toys, Hunter wellingtons, mess and smells. Stella and her French husband, David Lasnet, bought the house in 2002 for just under half a million and have spent thousands renovating it.
It is freezing, but neither Stella nor David, who emerges clutching their one-year-old daughter, Iris, seem to notice. Their oldest children - Marcel, seven, and Cecily, five - are at the local primary school, presumably to keep warm [they also have a three-year-old, Jasmine]. "We have only just switched the radiators on!" beams Stella.
This scene couldn't be further from the world of high fashion, but Stella claims she doesn't miss it at all. "I have a real life," she says. "Yes, it was amazing when I was discovered by Isabella Blow and shot by Steven Meisel and whisked off to Paris to shoot a Versace campaign, and there I was in a room with Linda Evangelista, but I'm not interested in power and money and status." Isn't that easy to say, though, when summer holidays were spent exploring Chatsworth House?
The current Vogue pictures were shot on several hundred acres of Yorkshire owned by Stella's family; Christmas was spent at their castle in Ireland. "Yes, I am privileged, I went to boarding school, but my parents aren't rich; they are farmers."
Tobias and Lady Emma live an hour and a half's drive away, in Roxburghshire, on a 15,000-acre sheep farm, which is where Stella and her brother, Eddy, and sister, Isabel, grew up - and which Stella found so boring she started smoking at the age of eight. She hated Marlborough but did her A-levels there because the art course was highly respected, then studied sculpture at Winchester art school. She only started modelling when she was 21. "That was why I was able to take it in my stride," she says. "When you are 16 you really are not ready. Even girls as skinny as I was were told by Valentino, say, to lose a few pounds, and that criticism destroyed them."
She met David on a shoot with Mario Testino. "I asked him out, yes," she laughs. "When I want something I'm not afraid to go and get it." David gave up photography - "I am often the 'ouse 'uzband" - and I ask if he misses it. "No, not at all. Mario spotted me in the street and asked me to model for him; I only became his assistant because I was broke."
He is now studying part-time to be an osteopath, which means frequent trips to London. I ask Stella if that makes her nervous. "We've been together for 12 years and I hadn't thought about infidelity until one of my close friends told me that her relationship is in trouble because of an affair. She asked me who David stays with when he is in town and had I met them, and when I said no, she said I must be mad. But I'm not."
Stella, who oozes confidence, earned several million as the face of Chanel early in her career. She only works now when she feels like it. In the next few days she will be flying to Paris to appear in the Dior couture show for John Galliano.
Is he a friend? "I would say John is a close colleague." Does she miss the catwalk? "God, no," she says. "David used to come with me, but after a day being pulled apart and prodded and pinned and having your make-up and hair done, I couldn't even bear for him to touch me. Plus, how ridiculous would I look walking out in front of a 16-year-old Estonian?" But Kate Moss keeps working, I point out. "She is the exception. I bumped into Kristen McMenamy [the model famous for her punkish looks] the other day and she, too, has four children. You have to work out what your priorities are."
Helmut Lang, who designed her simple wedding shift, is someone she admires. "Because he is no longer designing clothes [his label was bought by Prada] doesn't mean he has lost his identity; that whole idea that work should mean everything is ludicrous... Motherhood is the most important thing in the world to me."
So serious is Stella about motherhood that she has just given their nanny her notice. "I said to David that he works part-time, I work part-time, why on earth do we need help with the children? Who better to look after them than their parents? And if some people think I am letting the feminist side down, I don't care." I tell Stella that she must worry about her figure sometimes, having given birth four times (all at home, all without pain relief) and she admits she bought a bicycle with the plan of cycling down to the village, but gave up on the idea because it was too windy.
Much has been written about her family and the supposed family curse. Her uncle, Lord Glenconner, frittered away much of the family fortune before buying the island of Mustique, where he proceeded to live a playboy existence. One of his sons, Henry, died of Aids in 1990 at the age of 29. His eldest son, Charlie, became a heroin addict and died at 39. A third, Christopher, was in a motorbike accident and is brain-damaged.
Stella doesn't believe in curses, but her gilded life has been tinged by tragedy. Her best friend, Sebastian, whom she first met aged 18, was helping to renovate her New York apartment when he fell off the roof. "I was pregnant with Marcel and we were in London when we got the call," she says. "I remember asking: 'How badly is he hurt?' And they told me he was dead."
Did they still move into the apartment? "Yes, we did; he was an architect and he had worked too hard on it, living in it was like a memorial to him."
David puts some lentils on to soak for dinner - "We have only been out to eat once since we moved here," says Stella - and then they drag me out into the biting wind for a walk around their 18 acres. The four children, who all have Stella's eyes and impeccable manners, and Quill, the black Labrador, accompany us. The children dig happily in the mud with the dog. "We are trying to bring them up to be bilingual," she shouts against the wind. "When David has to study full-time in London we will live in Paris for a couple of years." Won't you miss all this? "No, it's just a house." She is off to Milan before she heads for Paris, to show her support at the Burberry menswear show. How will she tear herself away? "I am looking forward to being able to soak in a bath without someone telling me they need a pee," she says. I tell her I will be at the Dior show. "Come and see me backstage!" she shouts, and I really think she means it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

agnes b (2000)

It makes perfect sense that agnes b. likes her name in lowercase. Visit one of her low-key shops, and you'll find clothes, not Fashion. This isn't to suggest a sea of bland basics. Au contraire! You could walk in looking for one of her sturdy-yet-sexy t-shirts and walk out with a vampy gold lace wrap dress. Her collections are never all about one theme. Maybe that's why she has so many agnes b. groupies all around the world. What with designing collections for men, women, babies, and teenagers, not to mention doing bags, shoes, watches, and cosmetics, it's a wonder ms. b. had even a sliver of time to talk. But she kindly took a break for an exciting transatlantic phone call. She was super-friendly, giggled a lot, and even told me what she was wearing.

MARY: I wear so many of your clothes. I'm thrilled to be talking with you.
AGNES B: Thank you.
MARY: I seem to remember reading that you used to be ... were you a fashion editor? You worked at a magazine?
AGNES: Yes, for Elle, when I was very young. They noticed me because I was dressing a different way. I was wearing clothes from the flea market and from Monoprix ...
MARY: That's the discount chain in France?
AGNES: Yes, because I had no money at all. So they noticed my style and that's why they asked me to work for them.
MARY: How long were you at Elle?
AGNES: Less than two years. And then I was studying to be a stylist, but choosing clothes was not so exciting from my point of view. I thought, if I had to work in fashion, it was more interesting to make them. So I worked for a few different companies — little payment, no holidays, nothing. But I learned a lot, and then began to design for myself.
MARY: Did you start straight away by opening a shop?
AGNES: Yeah, in Les Halles. That was twenty years ago. We had birds flying around in the shop, with nests in the plants. We started with two birds in a cage, and one day we opened the cage and there were thirty. Baby birds were born. It was a very cool atmosphere. There was a swing for the children who came into the shop. It was the end of the hippie moment, and we were like left wing hippies. It was a cool time. We were idealistic. We did the shop ourselves and all our friends were coming every day.
MARY: So this would have been the late '70s?
AGNES: Yeah, late '70s.
MARY: Now when did you open on Prince Street?
AGNES: We opened in '83. I wanted to be in New York because I loved the city, and because I loved American cinema from the '30s, '40s, '50s - what we call in France film noir.
MARY: You always have those beautiful vintage posters up in the window. Would you say that film has influenced much of your design?
AGNES: I don't know. My designs are constructed to be unfashionable or ... out of fashion. You can't say it was from this year or that year.
MARY: Well, the first really expensive thing I bought was a leather jacket of yours. It was plain, with a V-neck. Later, I saw it on Cher and Robin Wright in two very different movies — Suspect and State of Grace.
AGNES: Yes. [laughs] I like clean, simple clothes. There must be an idea, but it doesn't have to be complicated to be beautiful. The material has to be new, or at least the use of the material. I like to make army pants — but in black satin.
MARY: Cargo pants?
AGNES: Yeah, I did that five years ago. I'm wearing them today.
MARY: I love how some of your earliest designs continue. I'm thinking the snap cardigan ...
AGNES: I was always wearing sweatshirts, and one day I thought it would be nice if I opened it up in the front. And I thought to have all these snaps very near to each other. Because in the old eighteenth-century portraits, like from Versailles, the buttons are very close together. So that's the story of the snap cardigan. I did one for myself in white, and then a black one. And then I made them for babies and for men ... for everyone.
MARY: Now one thing that I love about your clothes, especially if I go into the shop uptown, you see a lot of mothers and daughters shopping together. It seems that anyone can wear anything of yours.
AGNES: I always think of many different people when I design, and not just about very young people, but older people who don't want to be excluded.
MARY: Do your customers ever come up to you on the street?
AGNES: Yes. And sometimes they ask, "Why don't you do any more of these skirts?" So I say, "I'll make it again for you. You will find it in the shop." I like that — to be able to find again what you love.
MARY: What kind of notes do people leave in your guest books? Anyone famous?
AGNES: Leonardo DiCaprio left a message a few months ago: "You are a savior for me."
MARY: Do you know what he bought?
AGNES: Sometimes I ask, sometimes I forget to ask, or they forget to tell me. Jodie Foster shops in my store in L.A. I love her as an actor. But many actors wear my clothes, because they don't like dated clothes. I think they like to be themselves in their everyday life, not to be wearing very flagrant designs. They like the absence of the design. You can't see it, so you forget about it. And the personality of the person wearing the clothes is more important.
MARY: There are so many celebrities being dressed by stylists now — especially in L.A.
AGNES: David Bowie, for instance, I dressed him a few times recently. And I've loved him for years. You know, I'm a groupie. [laughs] The young group, Air, dress with my designs. Do you know them?
MARY: Air. The electronic group?
AGNES: Yeah, they are very good, very interesting.
MARY: I know in Paris you have the Lolita shop — your clothes for younger girls. Why isn't there one here in New York?
AGNES: We are going to make a big corner shop, which is going to be called B Spot. And there's going to be a mix for young girls, with a lot of street wear. It's like another label inside AGNES B.
MARY: You've had a gallery in Paris for years, and been really supportive of new artists, and now you have a gallery here too.
AGNES: Upstairs from the store on Greene Street, the men's shop, we have a big space. And sometimes we make a little show there.
MARY: So how do you feel about Soho? You were such a pioneer. It's so different from when you first opened. It used to be an art neighborhood, and now it's like a giant shopping mall.
AGNES: There is so much to buy everywhere. It's changed a lot. And I'm not a nostalgic person, but I liked it the way it was before. We might move, because we have to. The lease is finishing soon. We may stay in Soho. And the Lower East Side is not so far away.
MARY: Are you thinking about Chelsea?
AGNES: I don't want to go to the gallery area. I don't want to make again what happened in Soho. No, I will not do that. I like very much to go to the galleries in Chelsea. I think food and fashion shouldn't go there. I don't want to participate in that. But I think fashion is going to go there.
MARY: Are you friends with other designers?
AGNES: I don't see people working in fashion. I don't know if they see each other. Although I like Xuly Bet, for instance, because he's nice and he's normal. All my friends are artists. I go to galleries, I go to cinema, but I never shop. I have no time for that.
MARY: Now what about shows? I only remember one in the early '90s in New York, and one even farther back than that. Do you not like to do fashion shows?
AGNES: My clothes are discreet, they're not really for the runway. People like to see them up close. They want to try them on. And it's a big energy to make a show. In the end, I prefer to make a film. So this time I did a movie.
MARY: Oh great.
AGNES: I put the clothes in different situations with the models and I did a little story for each theme. It's a twelve-minute film, and we're showing it around the world. And it's much better than a runway show. There are all these little jokes in the movie, and we're fighting and dancing, and there's a funny wedding scene. I prefer to make a movie.
MARY: So that's once a year?
AGNES: No, it's twice — for the summer and winter collections.
MARY: Do you think there's a particular French style of dressing? It used to be very distinct.
AGNES: I think more and more it's less different from New York or London. Because people have the same culture and they see the same movies and they have the same influence for music and everything.
MARY: And your wardrobe?
AGNES: The way I dress — white shirt, long sleeves; black pants, white shoes, a black leather coat ... There's a red dress, because I like red. And a little silver jacket.
MARY: I've always wanted to ask you; your T-shirts last so long — what's the secret?
AGNES: It's the same material used for the uniforms of rugby players in France. [laughs] So the clothes have to be very strong.
MARY: It's really good.
AGNES: It has to be. And I made my own stripes and colors.
MARY: I love those striped shirts. And a couple of summers ago I bought so many of the crinkle-cotton shirts. I think one was called the Vincent, and then there was the Ricky ... Do you name them after people who work with you?
AGNES: Sometimes. But it could also be an actor or a musician. That's why we have a DeNiro shirt, because I admire him so much.
MARY: That's a men's shirt?
AGNES: Yes, of course. And we've made it for quite a long time. He comes in and says, "You're using my name." He frightens the girls in the shop. But it's just a joke for him. He's great.
MARY: When did you start your men'swear?
AGNES: In '81. Because I saw men trying on the women's clothes. They were putting on the jackets I was making for women. So very quickly I did some pieces for men, and then we opened.
MARY: We have to talk about the communal dressing room.
AGNES: I thought it was interesting to encourage this relationship between the customers, so that they would be talking to each other. They don't know each other at first, but then they talk and they share the clothes. "Oh, I like you better with that." Or, "I took it first." It's funny. There are many things happening in the changing room.
MARY: On Prince Street, first you had communal, then you had private dressing rooms, and now you have both.
AGNES: When someone doesn't want to be undressing in front of other people, of course I understand that. We had to have a solution.
MARY: Another thing I like about the shop is that I know I can always find a great T-shirt or a great coat or a great whatever. But then all of a sudden you've got gold lamé pants or a lace shirt. How does that happen? You just decide you need that?
AGNES: We have the same collection all around the world. And I like it to be like that. But you have to surprise the customers. Otherwise it becomes less and less interesting.
MARY: And now you're opening a shop in Miami.
AGNES: Yeah, and it's funny. It's in the former Greyhound station. It's very beautiful outside, and we kept it just as it was in the '50s.
MARY: So you're in New York, you're in Boston ...
AGNES: L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, and now Miami Beach.
MARY: And then in Japan you have lots of shops, right?
AGNES: Yes. Like fifty shops in Japan.
MARY: Is it a different sensibility there?
AGNES: It's always changing very quickly. So I have to surprise them, and I'm happy to do that. It's quite a difficult period in Japan. There's a recession, so it's a challenge, but I like that.
MARY: What season are you designing right now?
AGNES: Next winter.
MARY: Wow.
AGNES: I've got to be ready in the next month or so. I have to get the prints made ...
MARY: Do you design all your prints?
AGNES: I find them or I do them. And the materials too.
MARY: But you have a team you work with?
AGNES: I design everything myself.
MARY: That's crazy.
AGNES: I know. But I'm not a teacher. I don't want to judge someone else's work. I'm not comfortable with that.
MARY: Now, of all the styles you've done, is there one that's lasted the longest in the line? A favorite coat or jacket ...
AGNES: There is a cotton crewneck, for men and women, very simple. It's made with big knitting needles, and there are big ribs. I love it. I was wearing it for the pictures they took this morning. I love cotton sweaters, even in winter.
MARY: Well, your cashmere is pretty nice too.
AGNES: Yeah.
MARY: A friend of mine just bought one of your sweaters and was showing it off. I was jealous.
AGNES: [laughs] Oh, I'm sorry.
MARY: Are you making everything in France?
AGNES: Yes. That's why it's a little expensive. Making clothes in France costs much more than in Thailand. One minute of work in France is seventy times more expensive. But there is a tradition here; the people who make the clothes are very faithful, and the clothes are very well done. It's part of the style, I think, and that also makes people faithful to my designs.
MARY: And then there's the fit ...
AGNES: Yeah.
MARY: Because your clothes fit so well — especially for small people. And I thank you for that.
AGNES: Very often I jump in the clothes just to feel how they fit. I will take something from a model and try it on myself. You can feel the pockets — where they are, how deep they are.
MARY: Have you ever designed underwear, like lingerie?
AGNES: I would love to do that. And for men too.
MARY: I think you do everything else at this point. You do shoes ...
AGNES: Yeah.
MARY: You do bags.
AGNES: I also work for Seiko for glasses and watches, in Japan.
MARY: And then you have a beauty line too.
AGNES: Yes. With L'Oréal. I do the style of the line. But I don't just put my name on it. I do the colors, the design, everything.
MARY: So now, just add to the work load and do some lingerie.
MARY: As if you have time. [both laugh]

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Doutzen Kroes (July 2006)

The Frysian Doutzen Kroes (21) is doing shows for Viktor&Rolf and Dsquared, she’s the face of Calvin Klein and this autumn also L’Oréal Paris. Two years ago she was on ELLE’s cover, by now she’s hot in the world of fashion. ELLE searched for Doutzen for a retrospection.

What do you remember from that covershoot?
‘It was fun to do, especially because it’s a Dutch magazine. Now my friends could see me on a cover, they rather buy a Dutch ELLE then an Italian Vogue.’
Are you different in your work now then 2 years ago?
‘It’s getting easier. You get used to the travelling. I’m working with the same people, it’s actually a very small world.’
What the biggest change in your life?
‘Moving to New York. I really needed to get used to it there, I missed my friends and family. It’s so different then Oostermeer, the village where I’m from. When people asked if I was going to live in Brooklyn or Manhattan, I said; No, I’m going to live in New York. I really didn’t know the difference.’
Are things different then you expected?
‘The fashionworld is less glamourous then it seems. It’s very busy. People always expect me to be beautiful and never being ill.’
Do you think it’s hard to stay with both feet on the ground?
‘No. Some girls act like a diva. That’s a stimulus for me to do that not. I think it’s important for people like me. I did learn to defend myself, but I don’t think that’s acting like a diva.’
Did there ever go something wrong during a fashionshow?
‘During a show for Victoria’s Secret, my shoe fell off. I did not know what to do. Keep on walking or go back? I reacted just to turn around and pick up the shoe. And during a show for Dsquared my heel kept hanging in my dress (?), I just tried to keep on walking and not make a weird face.’
How does it feel to be the face of L’Oréal Paris?
‘I’m very honoured to be part of their team with all those famous actresses.’
What do you want to do after your modelling career?
‘I want to do something for the world. I’m living in a dreamworld, being surrounded by luxury. Some time ago I was on holiday in Sri Lanka and saw how it’s like in poor countries. I realised: What’s bothering me now? Clothes?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Helmut Lang (2004)

Helmut Lang is a complicated guy, a personality vibrant with the push-pull of creative contradiction. While he can only be described as the most European of men, he has chosen to live and work in New York. He is reserved and irreverent, methodical and spontaneous, a doer and a dreamer. Perhaps this same complexity is what has fueled his fashion design over two decades, allowing him to create work that is always refined and coherent, and usually transgressive and provocative as well. Peter Halley spoke to the designer in his studio in Soho.

PETER: The idea of starting a fashion house in Vienna is so improbable.
HELMUT: I know. It's beyond my imagination now. I think you only do these things when you are very young and inexperienced, and you have nothing to lose. Somehow I just slipped into fashion quite early on, which I had never planned.
PETER: You started when you were just eighteen or nineteen years old.
HELMUT: My teenage years were so restricted. It was a really hard time. I came from very simple circumstances, and I had the classical stepmother in a bad Hollywood movie. When I could finally move out when I was eighteen, I just had to find myself.
PETER: That was '74 perhaps? Was how you dressed your form of expression?
HELMUT: I was trying to define myself in terms of fashion. I think I wanted to do what everybody does at that age. You want to look good, you want to go out, you want to explore life and sexuality.
PETER: Were you putting together things you found, or were you making them yourself?
HELMUT: I had clothes made, but mostly in polyester, because it was very cheap. At the time, the fashion industry had not yet arrived in Vienna. We had this very strong made-to-measure tradition left over from the old Austrian culture. There were a lot of seamstresses who had their own little businesses. People would ask me where I bought something, and I'd say I had it made. They'd say, "Can you do something for me?" I'd say, "Sure," because I was looking for something to do anyway.
PETER: Working with the seamstresses was, in a way, your education.
HELMUT: Yeah, directly. I had a little studio with two or three seamstresses — that's how we started. Then I said, "Well, we have to do a fashion show in Paris." We did a show, which was completely naive and crazy. As I said before, you can only do this if you're young, inexperienced, and have no idea of the consequences.
PETER: I guess you have always had the confidence to make things happen.
HELMUT: That's something that I had quite early on in life, I think. I grew up with my grandparents really high up in the mountains — it was very detached from civilization, actually. When I was a little kid, I would always gather the other kids together to make things. When the first tourists came, we put flowers, stones, and sticks into little plastic ice cream cups. We were handing them out or selling them — I can't remember which. So on the one hand, I am very conscious, but on the other hand, I depend a lot on imagination for the creative work.
PETER: What was it about fashion that became your sustaining passion?
HELMUT: The most important and intriguing thing about fashion is that it relates to people immediately, in a very short time frame. That's also an incredible burden, because of the concentration of the work. It's so fast and so intense. It needs so much input — you always have it in your head. There are also the deadlines. But a deadline also forces you to formulate. Without one, it's actually much harder.
PETER: Despite your Viennese beginnings, your work has always had an international feeling.
HELMUT: I don't feel particularly Austrian, even though that's where I was born. I've always felt quite borderless. I'm more interested in groupings that have to do with familiarities of the mind. I think that fashion, art, and everything else can only work globally. People everywhere are looking for a certain idea — for things to look at, to dress in, to be inspired by. Of course, there are variations around the world, especially in art. But more than ever such local character is becoming less and less intense.
PETER: Vienna is so interesting historically. Austria was a multi-ethnic empire until the beginning of the last century.
HELMUT: My father's side is Polish, Russian and Czechoslovakian, and my mother's is Hungarian and Yugoslavian. I was only born in Vienna. My family was not from there.
PETER: It's a big place, in a way.
HELMUT: It was a big place. A hundred years ago, there was something about Vienna that was truly revolutionary — and strong. It had all this incredible tradition and also a strong counter-movement towards modernism. But just before the Second World War it was basically deserted. It's been that way ever since. What's left now is just a phantom of the spirit which was there, but that's good enough.
PETER: It's a city that seems to inspire some ambivalence.
HELMUT: If you live there for a while, it animates you somehow. Vienna itself is sweet and mean enough to train you for anything. Before I went to New York, everyone said, "You'll see, New York is really hard." But in comparison to Vienna, New York is really nice. Vienna is what it is. If you have something creative you want to do, you have to leave, or it will kill you. I felt that from the very beginning.
PETER: And that's where Paris comes in.
HELMUT: I have spent a lot of my time in Paris. In the '80s, the city was really astonishing — it was one big creative party. What was so unique was something that is lost everywhere today — you had all kinds of people, people from different age groups, just going out and having fun. It was about contact, exchange, doing things, working together — it wasn't as ghettoized. I found it incredibly productive but very amusing at the same time. Then it all closed up in the '90s. I had always thought that I would move our fashion house to Paris. But in the end we came to New York, which was even better.
PETER: You seem like such a European guy. It's interesting that you have chosen to live in New York.
HELMUT: As a base, I'm very lucky to have New York. It has a different mindset. When I go back to show in Paris, in a way it's like going home. I've been going there for a long time now, so I know a lot of people. But there is also something about Europe that is quite heavy-handed. You'd probably go crazy in a European town after being in New York.
PETER: Are there things you miss?
HELMUT: Europe has this fantastic, rich quality that I wish we had in Soho. If September 11th hadn't happened, maybe Soho would have achieved that kind of coffee-house culture.
PETER: I sometimes imagine your menswear was designed for a prototypical nomadic European.
HELMUT: Things often appear different when you are looking at them from the outside. I have never tried to localize my work for a certain group or certain type of man. Of course, I recognize that what I do is always related to culture because it is made for people, so it has to relate to their lives.
PETER: One year ago, you opened your made-to- measure boutique at 142 Greene Street in Soho. It's like a return to your early years in Vienna, making clothes for private clients.
HELMUT: By the late '90s, I was thinking, "What else shall I do?" I decided we should do made-to-measure, in order to provide really personal service again. It's a counter-movement to the corporate and marketing elements that are so strong in fashion. A lot of the made-to-measure work is for our Hollywood clients. But it also functions as a design studio. We have the prototypes for the collections there. It's like we've come full circle.
PETER: Helmut Lang, as a company, has such a cohesive worldview. The made-to-measure shop, the taxicab advertisements, the runway shows, and the design itself all reflect the same sensibility. And I've always admired your website.
HELMUT: It's just very simple. It's there to provide information. I felt that our website shouldn't be full of tricks or grab for attention as if it were based on computer games. We just thought it should just be a normal extension of what we do. Before we launched our site, our work was always edited by someone else — in magazines, on TV. The entire body of work could never be seen, except by a few fashion professionals. The great benefit of the internet is that everybody can have access to everything.
PETER: The simple design is very satisfying.
HELMUT: I always think that I should look at it again to see what else we could do. But then there's another show or something else to do, so I never really come back to it. At the very beginning, the website designers we talked to said, "Your website looks like shit. We could do a lot for you," blah, blah, blah. We'd look at their ideas and say, "This is everything we don't want." So we didn't change anything in the end.
PETER: In your own way, you are very good at business.
HELMUT: I'm not so sure I'm so good at it. I never wanted to do it, but I had to for a really long time. Of course, four years ago we merged with Prada.
PETER: As a creative person in business, you have to keep everything together, otherwise things just don't happen.
HELMUT: I think of it just as defending my creative point of view. In the end, I'm the only one who can take care of it — there really isn't anyone else who can do that for me. From the beginning, I wanted to be able to concentrate on the creative aspects of the work and everything that's related to image. But you always have to do much more than you actually want to. There is no such thing as being completely detached from all these issues. Somehow, they always come back to haunt you.
PETER: Is it a different process from the creative decisions?
HELMUT: Yes. With creative decisions, it is very emotional. It's not about togetherness. It's the fight to reach the point at which whatever you're creating is strong enough to fight you back. Then you just have to let it go. You are the only one who can really decide that.
PETER: Your creative life seems to be characterized by a few very stable long-term relationships. The architect Richard Gluckman designed all your spaces in New York. You don't switch from one architect to another every two years.
HELMUT: I think as long as a relationship is good, there is really no reason to break it. It's as simple as that. The idea of being faithful is a good one, as long as it works for both parties. But if it doesn't work anymore, it will fall apart anyway. That's also happened to me. In the course of your life, people come and go. If you're lucky, there are very few people — perhaps one or two — who you will know for your entire life.
PETER: You have longstanding friendships with two artists, Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois. Louise Bourgeois must be in her eighties, but she's doing great work.
HELMUT: She has this incredible quality. When you meet her in person, you leave so completely enriched and touched. I think she's incredibly strong and focused at the same time. She's producing so much wonderful work now. She's at an age where that is basically all she wants to do.
PETER: Visual people like yourself often have a need to create a visually harmonious environment.
HELMUT: I am definitely interested in architecture and interior design. I like playing around with my environment. It's something that I have to do. I don't always have to build something from the ground up — I'll change rooms or move things around just to be sure that they are in the right place. Sometimes before doing a new collection, I used to rearrange my entire apartment.
PETER: It's almost a design warm-up.
HELMUT: I like everything that's an exercise of form or proportion in areas that have nothing to do with fashion. It's important to look at a lot of different things to train your eye.
PETER: For me, the proportions of a room can affect everything.
HELMUT: I think it's absolutely important.
PETER: If I go to a hotel, and the room is...
HELMUT: I can't go anymore.
PETER: I've found people usually don't understand this. They can't believe that it might have some connection with my actual work.
HELMUT: On the one hand, it should mean nothing. On the other hand, if I stay in a hotel room in which everything is against me, I am unable to relax — there's just no way around it. If the proportions feel contrary to me, I can't feel at home. It's not about good taste or bad taste. You can find beauty in every kind of traditional style or in modernity. But, if a room feels completely dislocated, I would rather be in a tent. I won't be able to sleep, or I'll have to stay out all night long. It's difficult to explain, but I think it has something to do with just taking care of your environment.
PETER: How do you absorb cultural information? How do you follow what's going on in New York?
HELMUT: My cultural experience starts with CNN in the morning, which I started to watch regularly after September 11th. I think that's just what you do in New York. Earlier this year there was a week of exhibitions called Americana. I was interested to find out how American design differs from the European tradition. It was a very good counterpoint to contemporary art. It's always fun to watch the crowd, which was so completely different from the art crowd or the fashion crowd.
PETER: And these influences somehow go back into the work.
HELMUT: Fashion is an expression and a reaction. It's a reflection, and even a proposal, on the current situation of our society. In line with this, whatever sidesteps you take should have some humor and some element of provocation. The work should contain some ideas that will eventually grow in the future, and some that just go off like fireworks — that explode and glimmer briefly, and then fade. Hopefully, the consistency of the work over the years adds up to an interesting story. Depending on how strong you are, that story can be short or long.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Veronique Branquinho (date unknown)

Veronique Branquinho

At what point were you first aware that you were becoming a fashion designer?
I was quite young when I determined to be a designer. I was maybe around fourteen years old and I was interested in drawing. I noticed the emergence of the famous 'six' Belgian designers [Walter van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee, Dirk van Saene, Dries Van Noten and Dirk Bikkembergs]. It was the first time that I connected to fashion, because I loved fashion, but it always seemed really far away from me. It was the period of Montana, Mugler, Gaultier; very much fashion as a show. Very far away. When I saw those Belgian designers I felt 'yes, this is what I understand and what I could do'. I was really closely connected to them, so they gave me the start. Then I moved from a normal school to an art school, in preparation for the Academy.

Of what relevance is your training at the Fashion Department of The Fine Arts Academy of Antwerp to your current practice?
There are two aspects to this. I see this like a phase, in a lifetime. I don't think what I do now has much to do with the Academy. I came to the Academy in 1991 when I was eighteen years old, not a fully formed person. They help you to discover what's inside of you. They don't force you to do things, they just help you to say what you have to say. You get more formed and when you leave (in 1995) you're more certain of yourself. More secure. Then, when you start your own collection (for me, in 1997), it's nothing that you can be prepared for. It's not something you can learn about. It was a very useful phase of my life, to have been surrounded by creative people like painters, photographers, a lot of my friends come from the Academy. It was a very important time of self-discovery.

Can you describe how you approach designing a new collection: which bits do you keep and which do you discard?
Those decisions are made very intuitively. When I'm working on a collection, I'm looking for a certain shape or a certain form of garment. For me, it's like the pure form that's important. It's like purity. When you find that pure shape, I don't see the need to change it every six months because it's summer or winter. That's why I keep a lot of the same shapes. That's the base, you know. Like when I was looking for the perfect pair of trousers. I worked a long time to have this shape. Of course I will do other shapes, but for me, those are the essence. It's difficult in a society that is so reliant on change, and some use the charge of continuity as a form of criticism, doing the same things. But it's a big collection, like ninety different models, and (of which) maybe only six are the same.

Do you have any stock sources of inspiration that help you out in a creative crisis?
I have notebooks everywhere in the house. Every time I think of something, I just make a note. When I start working on a collection, sometimes it's really conceived in my head: 'its going to be that', and I start with a certain mood. Then sometimes I want colour: it's more of an abstract process, like a mood. It's very difficult to talk about. Those notebooks, I always have a look at and some ideas from them fit into the collection. I start more with a mood than with a shape or something. The first few seasons were very much about this 'double life', duality and womenhood. I could find that in Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer. Since then, it's been following me, this character of Laura Palmer. In any collection of mine, it's about the question 'what is a woman? What is the inner nature of being a woman?' It's still about what you feel.

Much has been made of the treatment of femininity in your clothes. What you have characterised as a 'duality' of womanhood or the progression from girl to woman in the designs, some critics have identified as a lack of overt sexuality. Do you think this is a fair assessment?
Sometimes people say my designs are sexless and I feel 'oh my God! It's not meant to be!' Maybe that's just the way you look at sexuality, it's different for everybody. For me, it's very much about what's going on in your head, about a certain mood. It's not about showing breasts and legs. It's a very intellectual thing. Belgians are very reserved people and it's not about showing off at all. It doesn't mean that what I want to say is sexless. On the contrary, the collections are very close to me and what I'm living through. I'm not a sexless person; I like the way that it gets a little bit complicated, a little bit mysterious. To conquer sex is much more attractive than the act itself. The tension between two people; that's harder to get than to merely show off a body.

For your A/W '03 collection, upon which Jean Francois Carly's film is based, you have said the inspiration was ice-dancing competitions. Again, this is a forum in which girls are encouraged to be confident and powerful. Is this something you consciously pursue?
I think the girls that ice-dance are considered confident mostly by the outside world, but they still have certain insecurities. The thing with ice-dancers is that they are looked at as big ladies who can do a lot of things but in fact, they are also insecure about failure and things that can go wrong, about growing up too early. It's very ambiguous. I think they are too sensitive to be secure, as that would be arrogant. They are not that.

Do you see a difference between looking at your clothes captured in film to those in still imagery?
I really like to see them in films because when I'm making a collection, it's not only a static thing. It's also about movement, it's very important. I really love ballet and dancing and ice-skating because of the movement of the clothes. Also, when you are making a picture, it's more like a set-up: it gets more like perfection because you can camouflage all the faults. It can look much better on a picture, but I like the natural way of moving it. It's the way they are meant to be, it's not a museum exhibit or gallery piece. They belong to the streets and people's lives.

You have said that your collections are personal diaries: records of your innermost feelings. How do you reconcile such an intimate act with putting them up for review before a critical audience?
It's really hard sometimes. For me, every six months it's the same story. You put all this energy into it and show it. Whether the reviews are good or bad, you've still put the same amount of energy into it. I'm trying to get used to it but criticism can be positive, building. It also gives me more energy to do more, as I'm not finished yet. It's never one opinion: you try to take some distance. The press opinions can be quite contradictory and then you have the customers, friends, other people. If you can get something positive out of it, it's better.

Do you take notice of other designers' work? Who do you consider to be your peers?
I'm very interested in other people's work. What I've tried to do is just to say what I have to say. I think that's what the others do too. The people who I admire are very much into their own world. I think that's the only way to do it. When I started, there was Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, you know, they're very much into their own world. Now, I think somebody like Hussein Chalayan is doing what he's doing. Helmut Lang has been doing it for a long time already. Maybe during those ten years, the press has been less positive than others, but he was still doing his thing. It's now the sixth year that I've been busy and I guess opinions change, but I can only do what I'm doing.

What do you think it means to categorise you as a 'Belgian designer'?
It's very much created by the press: 'Belgian Designers'. There was a time, maybe two years ago, when it was at the top. Everything Belgian was great and now, the press have maybe had enough. So now when you say it's Belgian design, people are like 'yeah, they're always dark, always negative'. It's what they make of it. I don't like those etiquettes, but I am Belgian and I am a designer. The only thing I have in common with Ann Demeulemeester or other people is that we are all Belgian and we are all designers, but we're all doing our own work. We're not following trends.

summing up designers (2006)

Rick Owens:
"I'd describe my work as Frankenstein and Garbo, falling in love in a leather bar"

Sonia Rykiel:
"I hope my creations can give a little bit of joy"

Anna Sui:
"People who go to my fashion shows kinda go to a rock concert"

"I design for romantic people"

Dries van Noten:
"I aim to create fashion that is neutral in such a way that each person can add his or her own personality to it"

Viktor & Rolf:
"The illusion that next time it might be perfect keeps us going"

APC (Jean Touitou):
"What inspires me is whatever helps you to get away from mental pollution"

AF Vandevorst:
"Fashion is a language"

Costume National (Ennio Capasa):
"There is no distinction between who I am and what I do"

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Marilyn Sainty (Nov,2004)

New Zealand designer: Marilyn Sainty

My favourite books:
  • My family and other animals by Gerald Durrell
  • A very easy death by Simone de Beauvoir
  • A gradual awakening by Stephen Levine
  • Janet Frame: An autobiography
  • Any human heart by Willaim Boyd
My most treasured possesions:
  • "I have a little shrine at home, full of momentos and gifts from friends and family, such as notes, photographs and all sorts of funny eccentric finds"
How I unwind:
  • "At the weekend, I love cooking, having breakfast with friends, taking long afternoon walks and sharing the crossword with my husband, Peter"
My favourite fashion item:
  • "My Lanvin ballet slippers"
Who I'm listening to:
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Claudine Longet
  • Caetano Paloma
My Favourite movies:
  • Talk to her
  • To have and to be
  • Orlando
My latest Obssesion:
  • "Food, I spend a lot of time cooking-it's one of my greatest joys. My speciality is a warm lobster salad with basil and delicious dark greens"
My greatest extravagance:
  • "An exciting holiday where you're completely free, making new discoveries. I've just travelled to France spending time in Luberon and Bordeaux, laughing and eating with friends along the way"
What I'm most proud of:
  • Her cocktail chair. "I worked with a steel maker on this chair and spent so many hours working on its design to get it right. It was an idea I had that I was determined to follow through with".

Travel essentials: various models (Nov, 2004)

Flight attendants:
Topmodels are forever flying around the globe. We find out what they won't take off without.

Poulina Kouklina
  • "Clarins Multi-active day cream, I love the smell"
  • "A good detective novel"
Eugenia Volodina
  • "Lancome makeup remover-it's so gentle"
Elise Crombez
  • "M.A.C concealer"
  • "A book to write poetry in"
Hana Soukupova
  • "I use Avene moisturiser and Evian facial Brumisateur to spritz on during the flight"
  • "Theres always a toothbrush in my hand luggage"
Jessica Miller
  • "I love Benetint by Benefit"
  • "I always fly with my ipod"
Julia Stegner
  • "I wash my face on the plane, then use Nivea moisturiser for dry skin"
  • "My makeup essential is Maybelline mascara"