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The fashion articles + interviews thread

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
This is the thread where you post articles that you find interesting or insightful, designers interviews and so on. It doesn't have to be new stuff, it doesn't have to be groundbreaking stuff, just words that you think might be worth a read or a discussion.

This is where you post scanned articles/interviews from mags (along with a transcript if available, for legibility's sake).

Don't forget to cite the source and date.

Leave the fashion news and blurbs for RFT and The Runway & High Fashion Thread.

Give me a better thread title
post #2 of 31
Thread Starter 
Well I was planning on posting the MMM interview from next month's Dazed & Confused but i just read it and it fluff devoid of any interest (here it is), here's something else for now.

The Discreet Charm of Christophe Lemaire

Wall Street Journal
January 17, 2013

As the intensely private fashion designer implements his function-over-fantasy approach at one of the most luxurious houses in the world, he's letting the understated allure of his clothes do all the talking

IT'S NO SMALL IRONY that the book Hermès designer Christophe Lemaire refers to as his bible is called Cheap Chic. After all, the house—for which Lemaire has now designed four seasons of women's ready-to-wear—is the undisputed 176-year-old pinnacle of French luxury. Sitting in his office in the Parisian suburb of Pré-Saint-Gervais, Lemaire, 47, who often exudes the shoe-gazing, serious air of a teenage boy, smiles only briefly at the incongruity, but immediately dispatches an assistant to fetch his copy.

"It's very much what I like about fashion," he says. "I met one of the writers when I was Christian Lacroix's assistant. Then I rediscovered it in Japan 10 years ago." The book—there are several editions, most published in the mid-to-late '70s—delivers on both of its title's promises, dispensing practical tips on how to ferret out the best of army surplus and vintage shops while also featuring black-and-white images of Lauren Hutton looking fantastic in jeans, a knotted sweater and sneakers, as well as a young Fran Lebowitz, jaunty in a black suit.

It's been two years since Lemaire was hired to replace Jean Paul Gaultier as the designer of women's ready-to-wear for Hermès. This accounts for less than 10 percent of the company's sales and is dwarfed by accessories, which have the advantage of being both more iconic—with bags women call by name (Kelly, Birkin), like old friends—and more accessible, like its silk scarves, watches and enamel bracelets. And yet ready-to-wear—paraded twice annually down Paris runways—commands outsize attention for being representative of the vision behind the brand.

Even as Lemaire makes inroads into his mission of convincing Hermès's clientele to buy into the subtle allure of his clothes, fashion spectacle is not what he's about. During his career, he's shown himself capable of it when called for—the high-energy, thematic shows during his 10-year run as creative director at Lacoste for example. But unlike his provocateur-showman predecessor at Hermès, it's not where his heart is. Lemaire is a pragmatist who loves nothing more than making beautiful—and, more importantly, beautifully functional—products that don't scream and shout. It may be why he has flown far under the fashion radar for so long: Lemaire is as understated as the venerated house he serves.

Read on (Click to show)
It's also the chief reason he was hired by artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas, a member of the sixth generation of Hermès's founding family, who presides over the company's three "universes," as they call them: men's, women's and home. Appointing Lemaire is one of the most important decisions Dumas has made since taking over for his father, Jean-Louis Dumas, after his retirement as CEO and artistic director in 2006. (Dumas père's creative responsibilities were initially divided between Pierre-Alexis and his cousin Pascale Mussard, who is now in charge of Petit H, an ongoing project to make whimsical items out of Hermès product remnants.)

Dumas says he was looking for someone to "further explore the Hermès vocabulary" when Lemaire came to see him at company headquarters at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Just two minutes into the conversation, he says, he knew the designer was right for the job. "We talked about values. We talked about the philosophy of Hermès as it applies to women's clothing. What is it about? Why do we do clothes? The idea of essential pieces, of building a wardrobe, of being timeless yet trying to express something that is contemporary," says Dumas. "It was instinctive. I knew we would share the same vision."

Lemaire was offered the job without having to provide sketches. "We talked about looking for real quality, for luxury that is not necessarily something you show, but something you feel," Lemaire recalls. "I found their choice quite brave, because I was not a super médiatique designer." In fact, the powers that be at Hermès saw his hesitancy to court publicity as a plus. "How can I say it? Christophe is not a fashion victim," says Bali Barret, the artistic director of Hermès's women's universe, and Lemaire's direct boss. "He has always had an off position regarding the fashion circus. He's doing his job, playing the game, but in his way," she says between cigarette puffs in her office. "I think Hermès is also about this position. We are here, but we do things in a certain way—a bit off.

Lemaire's upbringing was also a bit untraditional. After spending his first five years in Paris, the young Christophe moved with his mother, who worked as an archivist, to Dakar, Senegal, where she had taken a job in a library. (His parents' marriage ended in divorce.) They stayed for three years before returning to Paris—a long time for a child at an impressionable age—and the influence is still apparent in his perennial references to African and Asian clothes. "I've been lucky to travel around a lot," he says. "I've always been impressed when style has nothing to do with money or social standing. In Africa, it's very much about gesture and attitude, and also the use of color." That love of faraway places serves him well at a house with a deeply ingrained travel heritage.

His push-pull relationship with fashion also began early. Lemaire had come to know the industry somewhat through his uncle Robert Caillé, who worked at French Vogue with Francine Crescent, and he was presciently wary of it. "My uncle was a character," recalls Lemaire. "But I don't know, I could feel the superficial side of it. I was a little bit scared. But I've always been sensitive to style. I wasn't even conscious that it was fashion." Still, he considered going to school for decorative arts, to study interior or furniture design. As it turned out, he didn't study anything.

"I had to find a job," he says. "My father wouldn't support me." At 19, he began as an assistant at Thierry Mugler where his good friend Hervé Van der Straeten, now a jewelry and furniture designer, worked. That led to a job at Yves Saint Laurent and a three-year stint with Christian Lacroix, at the dizzying height of the designer's pouf-dress glory days. But even that exposure to high glamour didn't steer Lemaire away from his interest in stylish clothes that were rooted in reality.

After leaving Lacroix, he came close to partnering with designer Jean Touitou; the two saw a need for everyday clothes that appeared basic to the unschooled eye, but were still designed well enough to make you look as cool as Hutton in her jeans. (Their partnership didn't pan out, and shortly thereafter, Touitou went on to found the label A.P.C.) "You have to remember at this time there was no exciting ready-to-wear," he says. "At least in France, you had the Sentier ["garment district"], which was not very exciting and not very modern, and you had couture, which was very fashion-show oriented and spectacular."

In 1990, he won the ANDAM prize for his women's designs, the French fashion award for young designers established by Nathalie Dufour with Pierre Bergé and the Minister of Culture, and with the cash infusion he launched his own label, Christophe Lemaire. It found success in Japan, and in a few years, he had built a respectable business of more than $3 million in sales at his own store in Paris and with retailers like Barneys, Henri Bendel and Maria Luisa. (He won the ANDAM award again in 1995, for his menswear.) He put it all on hold after his appointment to Lacoste in 2000, but revived it a few years later. Though it's always been well-received, his line has been slow to gain serious traction. But the past few seasons have seen impressive growth, and he is actively seeking an investor to take advantage of that momentum.

WHATEVER SETBACKS HE'S FACED, one notable aspect of Lemaire's career has been the remarkable consistency of his ideas about what fashion should be. A review in Women's Wear Daily from his spring collection in 1992 reads: "Lemaire advocates a couture twist for ready-to-wear: clothes that are extremely well made but practical." That statement is just as true 20 years later. Only now, Lemaire has the power of Hermès's ateliers to realize his ideas.

One of his high-priority projects is far removed from the spotlight glare of fashion shows: a biannual advertising booklet called Vestiaire passed out in boutiques and placed in some magazines. He sees it as a tool for teaching women how to build a beautiful wardrobe—the word vestiaire means "wardrobe" in French—from Hermès. "We realized a lot of women were intimidated by Hermès," explains Lemaire. "They wouldn't enter the shop, or they would go to scarves and bags, but they wouldn't really go to the ready-to-wear because they think it's not really for them or that it's too expensive." The booklets focus on everyday sartorial building blocks—a leather blazer, a bathing suit, a chunky ribbed sweater—photographed simply and elegantly, showcasing the best of what he does.

On the runway, what Lemaire does might not be everyone's tasse de thé. He describes his aesthetic as "very masculine, lesbian in a way, very modernist." He admires strong women of the '20s and '30s, like photographer Berenice Abbott and Katharine Hepburn. "I find this particular time so modern," he says. "It was such a revolution of style." His frequent African and Asian references—silhouettes that lean toward the monastic—are reworked again and again. "I don't really understand the concept of doing a super punk collection one season and then doing cowboy," he says. But in the context of Vestiaire, few would argue with a perfect white shirt or a scarf-print silk T-shirt tucked into a simple high-waisted cotton skirt. And although Hermès's prices are assumed to be astronomical, in truth they are not much different from Céline, Chanel, Valentino or Lanvin.

Lemaire has gone on record innumerable times against the breathless hysteria over high-low collaborations or measuring a brand's success in the questionable metric of Facebook likes. "To be clear, I love fashion," he says. "But because I love it, I cannot relate to this sometimes too artificial, too quick and not very qualitative approach." With Dumas and Hermès on his side, he is now well situated to do his part to slow the frenzied pace.

It's too early to tell how the pairing will play out, but the company has a history of holding on to talents whose sensibilities click with its values, like high priestess of visual display Leila Menchari, who has been there for 35 years, or menswear designer Veronique Nichanian, there for 21 years. "You notice that people here stay very short or very long," says Barret. "It's a state of mind."

Lemaire, for his part, hopes to be an example of the latter. "I would love to work here as long as possible," he says. "Because, to be honest, it will be difficult for me to go anywhere after Hermès."

Edited by sipang - 1/27/13 at 5:01pm
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
An interesting snapshot of fashion history, Hedi has just left YSL and Raf has shut down his company, both have yet to leave an indelible mark on menswear, both on the cusp of big things but their iconic collections still ahead.

Kinda funny too in light of the rivalry narrative that's been spun since their respective new appointments last year.

And Raf seems to really like the idea of a demonstration, a sign of things to come ? (> Fall 2001 Riot Riot Riot > Spring 2002 Woe Onto Those Who Spit On The Fear Generation...The Wind Will Blow It Back)

When Hedi...Met Raf

V Magazine #6
Summer 2000

Photo - Steven Klein
Styling -- Joe McKenna

Captions: Page 1-2 : Hedi Slimane's farewell collection for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme; page 3-4: Raf Simons' last collection before the label shut down (Fall/Winter 2000, both quit on March 2000)

In the past few months, two of the most talented menswear designers on the planet called it quits. Hedi Slimate left his post at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme and Raf Simons closed down his own Antwerp headquarters. What's strange is that right now, both Hedi and Raf are at a peak of creativity and popularity. Through their castings, their clothes, and their runway presentations, they have each in his own way redefined menswear for a new post-hunk generation. Of course, this is not the last we will hear of Hedi and Raf. V caught up with them on their respective vacations (Hedi in Berlin, Prague and Budapest, Raf in London and Paris) to find out. Okay boys, what's next ?

RAF SIMONS: You've been spending time in Berlin these days ?

HEDI SLIMANE: Berlin is very laid back, and somehow I needed to take a break from Paris. Nice energy. Still very chaotic, but not for long I believe. Last time we saw each other was in March. It was very strange timing. We both had decided to stop doing our collections. A mutual friend arranged for us to meet. Remember ?

RS: I was very confused at the time. Tricia Jones had told me several times that I should meet you. In a way it was very crazy talking to a total stranger about my situation but it felt good because you were going through the same thing. What are you concentrating on these days ?

HS: Fixing my life, cleaning up my ideas. Moving from my apartment in Paris. Finding another one in Berlin. Finding a lover...or two. And you ?

RS: I'm trying not to concentrate on too much. I was so focused for the past six years and it feels great to take some time off and relax. Everything feels very blank which gives me new energy and new ideas. I've been spending a lot of time with friends and seeing a lot of exhibitions. Do you have any future plans or projects ?

HS: Going back to design. I had a few months to think about options. That was more than enough. I listened to everyone but I chose what I believe to be a true project, without any shadows. What's your relation to fashion ? And to art ? Do you like the idea of reinventing yourself ?

RS: My relation to fashion is Love and Hate. Love because I like to translate my feelings and thoughts and ideas into fashion. Even if I think they could be transferred to another medium. I feel very comfortable in the fashion arena. There's a lot of energy. And creatively, I feel very free. Hate because I don't like the fashion system. It goes so fast and it can suck you in really deep. Now that I'm out of it I realize even more how often I've had to tell people: Sorry no time ! There's less and less individuality in style. And there are a lot of changes I don't believe in. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. As for art, twelve years ago I was doing furniture design. I wasn't satisfied doing just furniture and fashion was very appealing to me. This is how I feel with art now. There's a lot going on in the art world at this moment. It's changing in a very interesting way. The only difference now is that I'm happy and very comfortable in fashion. I could never see myself doing one thing in one system for my whole life though. How do you fill your time these days when you're not traveling.

HS: Traveling is about all I do really. Mostly I've been in Eastern Europe which I found really disappointing. Somehow when in Paris I also shared more with my friends. Planning the future took up lots of my time. How was the Vanessa Beecroft exhibition in London ?

RS: Vanessa is one of my favorite artist. The performance was great. This time the girls were all naked. They all wore high heels and they all had red hair. In a way it's shocking but visually it's also so beautiful that there is almost something natural to the experience. I got a lot of energy form being in London. I saw nine exhibtion in one day. It was like an art marathon. I especially loved John Currin's new work at Sadie Coles and Jane and Louise Wilson's video "Crawl Space." My friends and I play this game: What would we buy from each gallery if we had all the money in the world. I think spent six hundred thousand dollars that day !!! Do you miss the studio and the team ?

HS: As you know, this was certainly the most difficult part of stopping. It was like a family and a house. I was very happy at Saint Laurent but I knew right away the only choice for me was to leave. It was like I could not pay the rent anymore. So I had to assume the consequences. What has been your experience ?

RS: The company is still running until October so most of my team is still coming in. The hardest part of my decision was of course the people. But you can't fight against your nature. How do you feel about not doing a collection this summer ?

HS: Bad in a way. The collection is stuck in my head. But somehow I think it's interesting to get some distance. I have been trying lately to modify my approach, think differently. Have you experienced a sort of freedom ?

RS: At this moment, totally one hundred per cent. What do you enjoy most when you're not doing a collection ?

HS: Well I enjoy designing so it's a bit of a problem. I am starting to be slightly bored. To start with I enjoyed my freedom, the decision to stop when things were going relatively well. I could go on creating my own way. So I enjoyed that decision even though it seems strange to others, but not it's time. You are working on some installations right now ?

RS: Yes. I just finished a project that will be presented in July in Paris during men's fashion week. I'm in the middle of discussing two very nice projects. I'll let you know when they're confirmed. Are you planning a long holiday ? If so, where, what, how ?

HS: Not really, but if you have nothing to do at the beginning of July, during men's fashion week, we could go someplace. Or stage a demonstration. We have to think about something. Any ideas ?

RS: Demonstration ! Demonstration ! Demonstration ! And then off to the Maldives maybe ?

Edited by sipang - 1/27/13 at 8:44pm
post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 
Here's another conversation of sorts. A correspondence between Maison Martin Margiela and (ever-so pompous) Malcolm McLaren

Has Anybody Here Seen My Old Friend Martin?

T Magazine / New York Times
Published: March 13, 2005

Some would argue that Martin Margiela is the coolest man in fashion. He's certainly the most elusive. Since the Belgian wunderkind set up shop in Paris in 1988, no one has seen a picture of him, and no face-to-face interviews have been granted. Margiela sees his role as a philosopher, rethinking the basic premise of clothing -- how it is sized and sold, how it interacts with the body -- with his team of white-coated assistants. Over the years, this has resulted in frayed ball gowns, reversed seams, cloven-toed boots and, when he was designing for Hermes, the most perfectly cut pants and jackets on the planet. Now, with his high-flying partner, Renzo Rosso of Diesel, and a new, industrial-strength business plan, Margiela is hotter than ever. How to scale the ramparts and dispel the mystery? We figured that if anybody could do it, it would be that fashion and music provocateur, Malcolm McLaren. Herewith, the beginning of a correspondence.

Dec. 15, 2004
Dear Martin, We know each other, I believe, but have never met. I certainly don't know what you look like and have even contemplated the thought that you may be a ghost! Do you exist? Sometimes I think not. But with that in mind, I am writing to you to find out.

Let me begin by saying I wear your clothes but can't help wondering if you have ever worn mine. Were you ever in London in the 70's and 80's? Because somehow, I feel we are connected. Your clothes are just a little more grown up, that's all. A more serious, Maoist approach.

I don't know what you think about that.

Wow! Just got back from Hong Kong. No flu, no shopping fatigue, but did buy a cool laser printer.

By the way, how is it working for the Diesel man? I like Renzo. He is a tough, swaggering cowboy who seems to want to do things differently in this postmillennium world of karaoke culture. What do you say?

I like your trousers. They are almost as uncommercial and impractical as mine were with a strap between their legs. I love to feel like an incroyable in his overalls. I like the boiled, mucky sweaters, too. I like your dirt and grunge. I like the fact that it looks like lots of people have stuck their dirty fingers on your clothes and left their marks all over them.

It's a different luxury, not something slick and overly produced. Do you think it's like lo-fi music? Like lo-tech culture? Are you aware of the new phenomenon bubbling across the Web? These lawless kids who convert old computers into music-making machines. Do you remember those sounds that crept out of early video-game culture? None of us cared about the sound of Nintendo back then. We just played the game. But now, I love these chip-music kids. Their icons are hackers, not Elvis. You should love it, given you're a part of that Belgian techno culture. Or are you?

These new musical hackers don't call themselves artists -- they hate that word. They prefer to call themselves reverse engineers. They love the way this antique technology can run wild. I feel this rock 'n' roll outlaw spirit has a kinship with you, or maybe I am wrong? Can you hear it? See it? Hey, are you really there? Or am I writing to no one in particular? Malcolm

Four weeks later, one note (''Did you have a nice Christmas?'') and two letters from ''Maison Margiela'' arrive. The first letter apologizes for the delay and includes the disclaimer that Maison Margiela will be doing all the talking, with input from ''Mr. Margiela.'' Thus the ''we.'' The second missive follows.

Read on (Click to show)
Jan. 17, 2005
Dear Malcolm, What a 10-part saga this has been getting back to you and conversing! You must think we are either mad or slack. Neither is true. It's simply been a totally frenetic period. We moved in late November -- fantastic new place -- a huge former convent and design school near Oberkampf in the 11th Arrondissement. Most things have gone really well, yet we seem to be haunted by many technical glitches. So, no, there are no ghosts here -- unless they are hiding in our server, stealing our e-mails.

Of course, nearly all of us know you. Martin knows of you through magazines from when he was a student in Antwerp, but unfortunately he didn't buy designer clothes. At the time, he dressed from flea markets. Listening to your music is another matter, however -- well done! We hear you're in Paris recording an album. Any scoop on the style?

We are really happy you like our clothes. Not at all sure about Mao and his link to what we do, though! Suppose there's a first time for everything. As for our trousers being impractical? That's really strange. We usually hear the contrary. And the dirty fingerprints is also a new one on us. Are you thinking of the garments we rework by hand from used clothing? We refer to this as our ''artisanal'' production (the label has 0 and 10 circled for men and 0 for women). Everything is always cleaned.

We're often described as serious. This is odd since it's not at all the way we live our work ''within our walls.'' The grown-up bit probably comes from a need we have to question, to take up the gauntlet of an impulse we have, to rethink a garment and then find a stimulating way to show this to others. To be frank, though, it's always a compliment that others perceive us as taking our creativity seriously.

We are very, very happy with the way our collaboration with Renzo is building. Renzo has brought us more stability, financial and spiritual -- we are growing together in the best way possible. (We leave the cowboy analogy up to you though.)

Funny that you mention it, but lo-tech culture is a strong thread of interest that runs through our team and its attitude. We were late to embrace computers; for so long we simply didn't have the money. Today we keep them pretty far away from the creative process.

Of course, we remember early video games. Those early Atari tennis games. Great sounds! Our musical influences tend to be much more grass-roots rock, in all its families -- lo-fi, as you mentioned.

As for the rock 'n' roll outlaw spirit, hmm. The force, conviction, indignation and alienation of youth are thankfully irreplaceable, yet aren't they probably meant to wane with experience and life? They belong to youth -- but when you are no longer young . . . what then?

So, yes, we can hear it. We can see it (when we can). And we're here! Even if it took us a while. Thanks, Malcolm. All at Maison Martin Margiela

Jan. 20, 2005
Dear Martin & Factory, Just got back from wicked St. Bart's and almost fell into the grave of Susan Sontag at Montparnasse Cemetery -- it was so cold! Poor Susan. I had New Year's lunch with her only last year, here in Paris. I was so sad to read about her passing in the paper over the holidays.

Still, glad to receive your letter. Don't worry about technology. It sometimes goes a little crazy and gets out of control. Wow, well done, now that you've moved to Republique. I like certain aspects of this part of Paris -- the dirt, the stupid poseurs who hang out in crappy bars listening to funny music. I think this is what Parisians think is their version of downtown N.Y. I go there sometimes to visit the lo-fi thumb tribes that rumble occasionally on Rue Oberkampf with those rock 'n' roll Game Boys.

Yes, you are right. I have been working on a new album in the desolate suburbs, south of Chinatown -- Ivry. Working with hackers and connecting them to the only all-girl rock band from Beijing, called the Wild Strawberries. They know how to post-karaoke with those chip-music freaks. It's fantastic! Imagine Sonny Boy Williamson or Jimi Hendrix lost in a video game of bleeps and bloops with some deadly-looking, Chinese, guitar-swinging girls ''comin' to getcha!'' (Totally inspired by the pixelated crude visuals of early video-game culture, I enclose my New Year's card for you to blitz out on. . . .)

I started to dig up all my own history -- old records left over from my shops on the King's Road. Can you imagine beating up Bessie Smith and the Zombies? I did. You can hear the track on ''Kill Bill Vol. 2.''

It was around this time last year that I met Quentin Tarantino here, and before I knew it, my music found a place in ''Kill Bill Vol. 2,'' just before Uma kills Bill. Did you get a chance to see that movie? It was so good! ''About Her'' is the name of my track. Check it out. I'm working more and more in film this year. Even inspired to work on a stage musical about fashion -- certainly got the tracks. Maybe we should kick some sounds around your show one of these days? Only teasing.

I know you are serious. Your trousers told me.

My comments about Mao are more about me. He is fast becoming the benign and eccentric uncle in China. Strange how history is always being rewritten.

Sometimes you sound so old, like my great-grandfather! Sensible, and deadly wise. I guess you must all be ghosts. Anyhow, see you at the shows. Maybe? By the way, does fashion end in passion or does passion end in fashion?

And I'd like a picture! Malcolm

Jan. 20, 2005
Hello, Malcolm, and all those at the recording studio. It is indeed very sad that Susan Sontag has left us. ''AIDS and Its Metaphors'' was such an important work. It shoved us along in our grudging recognition and understanding of H.I.V. and the isolation it brings. It is numbing how that virus has tricked, mutated and infiltrated. We always feared it would become a pandemic, yet who in 1987 could have predicted the desolation and devastation it would reap in Africa? ''And the Band Played On'' seems so far away today. How great it must have been for you to meet Sontag so recently.

We are so fortunate with our new home. We're just north of Republique at Rue St.-Maur. It was really weird when we came across the place. The school had been closed for 10 years when we visited it for the first time. We were totally taken aback to see that for all those intervening years everything was abandoned, just as it had been on that last day when the school fell quiet for summer. Exam papers lay on desks, pens stood in inkwells and lessons were still chalked up on blackboards. All was weighed down by a thick layer of dust. You must visit one day.

What a great name for a band, the Wild Strawberries! Your album sounds like a feast! How will the hacking work with the sounds?

When is it out?

On our side, we are forging ahead with our next project -- the 10 and 14 collections for men. To go with them, we've been shooting a video project -- musicians backstage at venues just before they go onstage: crooner, rock, goth, a chansonnier, all over Paris. We're also starting a new line of shoes for men and women called 22 and accessories called 11 -- so a lot's happening! We're also guest-editing A Magazine in Antwerp. We entitled ours, ''The past is what bonds us -- the future leads us.''

It's true what you say about Mao -- it's as if he has become a smiling, happy parent totally extrapolated from the Cultural Revolution.

He's become like Coca-Cola's version of Santa Claus or Hello Kitty.

Do we really seem so old, wise, grandparentlike? We have never thought of ourselves in that way. We always say that we are too close to the trees to see the wood (or is it wood to see the trees?) to know how we appear to others, and it's true, we are. Better to keep ''doing'' and leave interpretation up to others, don't you think?

Does fashion end in passion or does passion end in fashion? What about, Does passion end in passion and fashion in fashion? Maison Martin Margiela

Jan. 23, 2005
Hi, Maison Margiela! I'm reading, again, Susan S.'s ''Notes on Camp.'' It is inspirational. It hails the arrival of Andy W. and all that is pop and fluffy. My arrival at art school in 1965 happens about the same time ''Notes on Camp'' is published. A professor greets us -- ''If you think you are all going to be successful, well . . . you're not!''

And, pointing to the door, ''If anyone thinks they are, they better leave now!'' My head is disappearing into my shoulders. I am 17. Crushed. A year later, a few of us have survived. The old goat reappears. ''So, you're still here then? I expect you all to understand failure now.'' He turns aggressive: ''Don't think you can just fail, though. You've got to learn how to fail magnificently.'' And in a tone that breeds a certain dull confidence, he rasps, ''For it's better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success.'' It shakes me, confuses me and changes my life.

I make myself a blue lame suit like Elvis Presley and try to get exploited by walking down the King's Road. No one notices.

I fail miserably. I end up looking like a wet, dead rat by the time I reach World's End. It's November. It rains a lot. I start again by tearing my clothes apart. By jumping on them, making them dirty. By bathing them in gray dye. I make ugliness beautiful. I form a gang with Vivienne, and on the King's Road in Chelsea, we inadvertently invent a style that denies commercial application. It proudly displays a ''not for sale'' feeling. It's 1974. I am deconstructing clothes with Vivienne for an army of disenfranchised youth. I dig in the ruins of a past culture. It becomes my art. It's not nostalgia -- that's simply dead tissue. It's a wickedly old-fashioned, sexy chaos that empowers me and impacts on others.

Sex (and I love it) is fashion ending in passion. And passion ending in fashion is fetishism. Once upon a time, I was accused of being a mere dilettante for managing the Sex Pistols and not sticking to haberdashery. Now, everyone is doing everything for everybody everywhere. Exhausting! Shopping is art. Shoppertainment is the new cultural ideal. The church, back in the Middle Ages, sold salvation, and people didn't need to acquire anything. Today, stores are replacing the museums as the museums once replaced the church. We are all curators now.

The extraordinary power the fashion world possesses lies in its ability to provide identity, and sometimes I think all fashion designers can be characterized by a resistance to living in the present. This displacement appears essential as a designer must always be one season ahead. The desperate passion a new look inspires, though, seems inexplicable once it wanes. I will never forget reading about Christian Dior's life when he remarked he'd like to brand food as fashion and demanded his house brand roast beef with his name: ''Dior Rosbif.''

Television has been eclipsing all cultural institutions and life itself for some time. But the digital generation has struck a blow to the heart of television, and there is no stopping, now that the Internet is free. No matter how much government and industry try together to control the new media, the Internet's inherent lawlessness is its appeal, its sexiness. We are seizing the automated stuff of our world: I am excited. Love ya, Malcolm

Jan. 25, 2005
Dear Malcolm, Incredible! Isn't the very notion of success and failure entirely relative? Is success fame, notoriety and economic recompense, or is it, in the case of artists, the ability to express one's ideas to whatever public might be touched by that expression? Like many creative ideas, it is not necessarily the originality of the premise that is important or defines its ''art'' but the means and purity of its expression. No one can refute that what your teacher told you is accurate. But despite himself and his bombastic approach, he had a beneficial effect on you. You were lucky!

Funny, for another project, we recently found ourselves looking for a definition of ''passion'' -- a lot of what one finds is linked to ''The Passion of the Christ.'' It is interesting that for you, passion, when related to clothing, seems to be linked directly to sex. For us, the passion is in the creation. Without that initial and ongoing passion it would be impossible for us to continue. We really do not feel this pressure to be one or more seasons ahead to remain designers as you describe. A lot hangs, of course, on a definition of ''fashion.'' When one designs clothes, one is automatically a ''fashion'' designer, but sometimes this can or should simply be ''clothing'' designer. If we are to view fashion as the tidal wave of trends that we have come to know, the expression of a designer and/or his team can exist entirely parallel to fashion. Our benchmarks are more the evolution of our own creative expression. We try to provide ourselves with new horizons as soon as the need for a new challenge presents itself.

For years, designers -- including us -- were banging on about individual expression, that everyone should be able to find their own means of expression via what they wear. To a very large extent today we have what we were seeking then -- people are more individualistic, they are dressing more for themselves and less for others. Don't you agree? Of course, there will always be that validation some receive through wearing a brand, but there is no longer that idea of a prevailing look; skirts can be any length. You are so right when describing

the Internet. Long may it reign! But for how long? Even though the Internet is presented as a wild and wonderful place of freedom of expression, those who log on today thinking that their views expressed are not being monitored are fools. All of those big brothers following every hit on your keyboard.

On that note, we'd better get back to work. Our men's show is Friday. We're nearly there! All the best from all at Maison Martin Margiela

Feb. 1, 2005
Dear Martin, I never asked you where you spend Christmas; not the whole factory, that is, just you. I did the most decadent thing and landed in St. Bart's on Christmas Eve. Besotted by so many pretty things, I was immediately transported back to the Cote d'Azur in the 60's.

Let's see, Christmas in St. Bart's. Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, Uma Thurman, Tom Ford, Bryan Ferry, Tony Shafrazi, Robert Downey Jr., Quentin Tarantino, a Ukrainian bombshell (running around seminaked with an Asprey backgammon board), Qaddafi's son. Night and day, everybody is doing everything to everyone everywhere. I bumped into Nick Rhodes, a Duran Durannie (you remember ''Girls on Film,'' don't you?), and he's still wearing all his pan stick and eyeliner. Quite a feat in the heat! I do love him, though. He darlings everybody, always with a silent teenage girl in tow. Isabella Blow queened out in her Joan Crawford gold lame bathing suit and diamante studded stilettos, with her art-house ex, or not-so-ex. I don't know. Relationships are so complicated nowadays. Detmar Blow sat shrouded in a Philip Treacy sun hat. Detmar is hysterically critical, refuses to be clever, an absolute English invention, extraordinarily funny although he doesn't know it. A part of that fast-disappearing and better side of the English postcolonial tribe. On the beach, Giorgio Armani strolled, in his ever-so-brief black bathing trunks, ultratanned chest and the toned body of a 30-year-old. Astonishing. His gang, smoking profusely with not a hair out of place. Ah! Those Italians! The funniest thing, though: they all had matching black towels and mini canvas directors' chairs, which turned out to be headrests.

It's snowing in Paris. Vive la neige!! It's Christmas all over again. Gotta see Sofia Coppola. I like her new project about Marie Antoinette. Just heard Marianne Faithfull will play Marie's mum. Great choice. She's related to Sacher-Masoch (as in ''masochism''). A long time ago, Russ Meyer, better known as King of the Nudies, cast Marianne as Sid Vicious's mum in ''Who Killed Bambi,'' the proposed movie about the Sex Pistols. I wrote it with Roger Ebert and Rem Koolhaas (yes, the architect! He was in Hollywood then). She had to shag Sid in the script. However, she would only agree to do so on condition he took a bath beforehand. He did have this notorious, dirty reputation.

A sudden thought. Would you like to go to a dinner party for dogs? There will be no barking at the table. By the way, where are all those pictures you were going to send me? Lots of love, Malcolm

Feb. 3, 2005
Dear Malcolm, ''Curiouser and curiouser''! What a drama, receiving your last letter, that is. This weekend, we finally got to show our work on the men's collections to the press. We showed them the six small films based on the musicians backstage on the point of going onstage we told you about. The films seemed to please. Of the many that popped in, Gert Jonkers of Butt magazine in Amsterdam passed by. He said that he was busy tracking you down for dinner (did he manage?) and that he was curious as to the correspondence you are having with us. Gert also told us that your letter had been sent. Yet nothing had arrived! Was it happening again? That's when the frantic search began. Our panicked e-mails requesting another copy of your letter all arrived, as did the replies of those who could forward it to us, yet the letter itself was always blank on arrival! It finally transpired -- subject to verification, of course -- that your letter was being blocked, filtered or censored somewhere in the ether between Paris or New York! A tiny symbol in the ''Sent'' folder, in front of the many attempts to mail, showed that its contents were unsuitable for transmission. Why? Could it be that we are now at the stage where mail of ''questionable'' content evaporates -- deemed immoral? Is this the next stealthy step of reining in the Net, our thoughts and expression? Was it your reference to Sid Vicious having to to take a bath before doing Marianne Faithfull?? Or was it some lazy spell check that didn't want to get up off its bum and preferred to destroy the evidence? Quick, check Nostradamus! Well, we have your letter now -- it finally arrived, by fax! Maison Martin Margiela
post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 
Undercover post

Jun Takahashi: Under the Covers

Nylon Guys
Fall 2006

Twenty-five years ago, Japanese authorities considered street fashion a bona-fide social problem. The Takenoko-zoku rock & roll dancers congregating in Harajuku pranced and shimmied under constant police surveillance, and the slightest step out of line — casual lighting a small firecracker, or god forbid, a cigarette — often led to a brutal response from nearby local law enforcement officers. The concerted efforts of PTA moms and graying social critics, however, could not break the momentum of the Harajuku street fashion explosion.

Now that Japan happily and proudly exports designer clothing to the rest of the world, it is only fair that the heir apparent to the Japanese fashion dynasty has a foot in the teenage delinquency of the past. No profile, interview or article about Jun Takahashi of Under Cover has been able to avoid the words “punk” and “rebel” in his description. Certainly, Takahashi’s work takes dangerous chances, shoots middle fingers to convention, and worries the faint of heart, but it would be a crime to bury Under Cover’s creepy nocturnal beauty under the rigid dogma of punk rock. Jun Takahashi is conjuring up black magic and kicking up street grime to make his assault on the world, but the results never retread the slogans and postures of past rebellions.

Born in 1969, Takahashi spent a peaceful middle-class childhood in the rural town of Kiryu, Gunma. Somewhere in his teenage years, he discovered punk and fled to Tokyo on the weekends to scourge up artifacts from cheapo rock shops. The costumes accompanying his new favorite musical genre made him transfer his passion for drawing onto the fashion canvas. “I really liked the Sex Pistols’ visual presence and sound, and I looked things up and found that Vivienne Westwood had done their clothes.”

A family member suggested that if he wanted to study fashion he ought attend Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo — Japan’s most prestigious fashion design academy. Upon acceptance, he moved to the big city and busied himself with the rigorous technical training of school and the insane underground nightlife. His friends nicknamed him “Jonio” after he started romping around as the singer of the Tokyo Sex Pistols. Although etched in his legend, the band was never a serious endeavor, and when I bring it up, he mutters, “I totally want to forget about that…” His night-time partners in crime included a freshman named Tomoaki (later to become “Nigo” and give birth to A Bathing Ape) and an older friend named Hikaru (later to start brand Bounty Hunter), who introduced Takahashi to a DJ and trendsetter named Hiroshi Fujiwara.

During his time at Bunka, Takahashi decided to start his own label — Under Cover. His time at school and wandering the world’s largest fashion market had given him the skills and outlook to fulfill his punk fashion fantasies, but after graduation, he started to gravitate to a more sophisticated style. “A designer friend took me to the Comme des Garçons store one day, and I was just blown away. You can make clothes like this? They didn’t teach you how to make things like that at school.”

Read on (Click to show)

At first, Under Cover just sold small hand-made pieces to select shops, but in 1993, Nigo came to Takahashi with an interesting proposal: an investor wanted to give them money to start their own store in Harajuku. In April, the two 23 year-olds opened the legendary Nowhere shop in a empty section of Ura-Harajuku — with one side selling Under Cover and the other selling Nigo’s pre-Bape curated import goods. The two youngsters joined with Hiroshi Fujiwara to do a column for street fashion magazine Asayan called “Last Orgy 3,” suddenly making them media icons with a Midas touch. Fans lined up to buy every product they casually advocated each month. Things got so extreme that readers’ polls started listing Jun Takahashi in the #2 spot for “Coolest Male” — something that made the young designer decide to drop out of the limelight. “I really hated it. I’m not a celebrity, and it got in the way of actually making clothes.”

Instead, Takahashi concentrated on the Tokyo Collection and appeasing the ravenous hunger of his growing cult fan base. (He describes the average Under Cover customer as “Kind of weird.”) While most of his patrons are male, Takahashi prefers his ladies line and focuses almost exclusively on it for his formal collections: “The ideas of the men’s line are limited to what I would want to wear, real clothes. With the ladies’ line, I want to do something bigger than that. Ladies’ is where I can express my world view.”

The opening of an Under Cover Ladies shop in Aoyama in 1998 gave reason for Takahashi’s brand to escape from the makeshift partnership with Nigo and A Bathing Ape at Nowhere. Simply put, the two brands “had nothing to do with each other” — almost as if Stüssy and Issey Miyake had to share the small same retail outlet.

In 2002, Under Cover graduated from the Tokyo Collection and moved onto the international stage of Paris. Takahashi’s chief motivator was Rei Kawakubo from Comme des Garçons — a longtime supporter of the brand and Takahashi’s hero. They first met at the Under Cover Aoyama store launch in 1999, but they had already been trading epistles for two years. “We had communicated by letter for a while. Someone from the CdG shop said that Ms. Kawakubo wanted a pair of our shoes, so I sent her the shoes, and I got a letter back. I sent out a reply, and then I would send her things I made that I liked for her to wear and I would get letters back.” There are many similarities between CdG and Under Cover, but unlike Kawakubo, Takahashi does not seem to be pushing in formal avant-garde directions. He simply uses fashion as a way to give life to his own unique internal universe, a world that breathes an atavistic fear of the dark, the dread of medieval Christianity, the ghastliness of 18th century medicine, barren Western deserts filled with animal skeletons. The brand’s name was meant to connote the conspiratorial and spy-like, but in reality, the clothing’s atmosphere suggests a young boy hiding his head under the covers, out of fear for what lurks in the shadows of midnight.

The Paris shows have well displayed Takahashi’s tender artistry of creating the perfect nightmare. His February show — “BBV (But Beautiful V)” for Autumn-Winter 2006-2007 — featured female models mummified within beautiful rococo arrangements, faces hidden under pinned fabric masks somewhere between Elizabethian female coiffure and Medieval protective headgear. October 2005′s “T.” took moody inspiration from 70s Krautrock: models appeared from a range of giant candles in billowing blouses created from old t-shirts while the soundtrack played Germanic analog synth squirts. One model boasted horns — like a female satyr or sculpted Moses — while others flashed corpse-like painted white breasts. March 2005′s “Arts & Crafts” transformed his girls into plastic old men with felt hair and fake eyebrows. The most shocking thing you would see at a Under Cover show, however, is Takahashi himself: he is too nervous and shy to come out for to receive his accolades. This fortunately plays well into his myth and the brand concept.

The Under Cover office in Harajuku is a bit of Rosetta Stone for understanding the central vision behind the often disparate yearly collections. The walls are cluttered with stuffed-animal trophy heads, Surrealist readymades à la Dali, Patti Smith portraits, a series of eerie fuzzy sculptures with doll hands and Cyclops flashlight faces, a collage of famous blondes, gnome puppets, a white phallus, and rocking horses with identities concealed by black bars. Naked John and Yoko peek at you from an open door. Takahashi works from his desk in the corner, no different from those of his employees. With such a modest and quiet demeanor, the first time visitor would surely be confused to which person is the King. His appearance certainly matches the Under Cover image — the jagged tattoos and long hair make him look like a Prince Charming of Darkness. But his careful speech never veers into self-aggrandizement. Talking over a table with Cluster LPs trapped under the glass, Takahashi says, “Everyone expects me to be dark and quiet, but I’m pretty normal, right? I mean, I’m dark. I like dark things, but…” He reconsiders, “Well, I’m not especially perky either.”

Takahashi is now sitting down to plan out his next Paris collection for fall and continue his steady global expansion. Besides the thirty-three stores (ten directly-managed) selling Under Cover in Japan, the brand now has sixty-six stores supplying fans in twenty-three countries. Under Cover has also come together with Hysteric Glamour to create the Zamiang gallery underneath the Ladies store and make a special T-shirt for Japanese pop group Kishidan — who have revived early 80s yankiiteenage delinquent fashion. Although Takahashi was never a yankii back in Gunma, he seems to fundamentally respect all forms of youth rebellion. This explains why in recent interviews he always seems a bit troubled by the sloth and hackneyed tastes of the Japanese Gen Y. The kids up in Harajuku these days just don’t have the passion and fire to piss off the complacent police force and push things in new directions. “The cops aren’t going to move unless something super crazy comes along. Whatever that would be, I’d even be scared of it.” Unclear if this new generation of dangerous fashion rebels will appear, but I bet you Jun Takahashi will be pleased.

* * *

Jonio interview by Terry Jones for the Undercover issue of A Magazine

A Magazine curated by Jun Takahashi Undercover

A Magazine #4
September 2006

(click for big enough pic)

Edited by sipang - 1/30/13 at 6:52pm
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Like Mona Lisa, Ever So Veiled

New York Times
May 30, 2012

Read! (Click to show)
TO appreciate the designs of Rei Kawakubo, the woman behind the label Comme des Garçons, it helps to be a specialist in fashion, or something of a kook.

Let’s consider her latest collection, shown in March in Paris. Not only were the brightly colored felt garments of a fun-house scale, but they were also completely flat. A dress had a front and a back, and the two pieces were joined at the sides. The simplicity was such that a clever child, using a cookie cutter, tracing paper and the photocopying services of Kinko’s, could produce the basic pattern. The wool felt was a good technical choice for the floating two-dimensional shapes, but the design, more than being merely simple, seemed to disclaim design.

Reaction during the show was immediate.

Editors smiled and nudged one another as the silly tents came down the bare plywood runway. Gradually, though, their gooey looks of delight turned to serious interest and finally to pleasure, the deep pleasure of seeing something rare and fully resolved and resistant to syllogisms.

Was Ms. Kawakubo commenting on the flattening of the world by the Internet? Was the lady, by fabricating such harmonious volumes without padding or other means, calling out lazy and weak-minded designers who tout couture techniques and don’t create anything new? Even the industry’s craze for bold color combinations and archival prints seemed to land in her cross hairs, and, not surprisingly, her choices were marked by intensity.

If Karl Lagerfeld is the leading talk artist of fashion, Ms. Kawakubo is the Mona Lisa. She makes no effort to reveal her meanings, though at times she explains her methods. That day in Paris, standing backstage, she greeted each guest with a brisk ceremonial nod. Small, nearly 70, she wore a black cotton jacket buttoned to the neck, black dhoti shorts and sunglasses that seemed a mischievous touch of celebrity — and that she has. No living designer with the exception of Azzedine Alaïa is held in higher esteem by her peers, and none has enriched our spirit in so many original and confounding ways.

“Kawakubo has done everything,” Jun Takahashi, the respected creator of Undercover, has said.

Indeed. On Monday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America will honor her with a lifetime achievement award.

Ms. Kawakubo, who lives in Tokyo, does not plan to attend the festivities, said her husband, Adrian Joffe. As much as it would thrill to see her on the Lincoln Center stage, it’s hard to imagine her actually being there. She stopped appearing on her own runway long ago, though she is easily accessible backstage and in her showroom.

In addition to managing Comme des Garçons Parfums and many day-to-day matters, Mr. Joffe serves as his wife’s interpreter (he is fluent in several languages). It is Mr. Joffe who provides journalists with a brief, prepared explanation after every show. In March it was: “the future in two dimensions.”

And, of course, the statement, while not pure nonsense, turned out to be pure quicksand, sucking people in.

The truth is that Ms. Kawakubo is not interested in seeking answers, at least not to the conventional type of questions asked above. She is not an artist, and she doesn’t consider herself to be one, per se, though her work over the last 30 years, since she assaulted people’s consciousness with a collection called Destroy, has impelled serious consideration far beyond fashion. (Ms. Kawakubo, who is the sole owner of Comme des Garçons, a small, $200 million conglomerate with a number of brands, including Junya Watanabe, once said that if she is anything, it’s a businesswoman, and then added, “Well, I’m an artist-businesswoman.”)

In 1996, Ms. Kawakubo presented a collection called Dress Meets Body Meets Dress, which featured disfiguring lumps of cotton wadding covered with cheerful gingham. She was criticized for being “antiwoman,” yet a closer look at her silhouette revealed that she was probably neutral on the subject of gender, and instead had done something of more profound meaning: she had recreated a reality of the late 20th century — that of the individual seemingly joined to her burdens, like a backpack.

Since then, Ms. Kawakubo’s work has grown in clarity and wisdom. Last October, a collection titled White Drama referred to ceremonial occasions, like a wedding, and was assumed by many to relate to her widely admired Broken Bride show, in 2005. For fall 2012, she followed with her two-dimension collection.

Ms. Kawakubo, however, insists that she is not a feminist, and that her work has nothing to do with being a woman. “I was never interested in any movement as such,” she said a few years back. Her position is at best ambiguous; early in her career she embraced such ideas. It may also be true that as her work has matured, she has reached wholly different conclusions about what nourishes the creative process.

No one has ever sufficiently explained how she has been able to retain the spirit of the 1970s and early ’80s, particularly its sense of experimentation, without getting mired in it. In all the years I’ve known Ms. Kawakubo, which is close to 15, I’ve never heard her talk about the past, nor have I thought to ask her. With many designers of her generation, the past is like a giant wading pool on a hot day.

“She’s not greedy,” the art director Ronnie Newhouse said, suggesting that the way Ms. Kawakubo chooses to live relates directly to her design process. Journalists often find it hard to take her at her word: that she lives a relatively normal life, in Tokyo. “Can’t rational people create mad work?” she once asked a writer.

A few years ago, while reporting an article about her, I asked Mr. Joffe if photos could be taken of her work space. He said it wouldn’t serve any purpose. He was right. The Comme des Garçons headquarters, which occupy several floors of a banal office building, look like design studios everywhere, and may even be drabber.

In the end, Ms. Kawakubo’s example may prove that the last thing you need to be in the creative fields is a specialist. In fact, it may be a hindrance, blinding you to new feelings. I recently asked Ms. Kawakubo one or two specifics about her design methods, mainly to be clear about what I already knew. Did she use a so-called “mood board,” for instance?

Here is her reply, by e-mail. I reprint it in total. It says everything, and it could not be said better.

“My design process never starts or finishes. I am always hoping to find something through the mere act of living my daily life. I do not work from a desk, and do not have an exact starting point for any collection. There is never a mood board, I do not go through fabric swatches, I do not sketch, there is no eureka moment, there is no end to the search for something new. As I live my normal life, I hope to find something that click starts a thought, and then something totally unrelated would arise, and then maybe a third unconnected element would come from nowhere. Often in each collection, there are three or so seeds of things that come together accidentally to form what appears to everyone else as a final product, but for me it is never ending. There is never a moment when I think, ‘this is working, this is clear.’ If for one second I think something is finished, the next thing would be impossible to do.

“Often the elements are completely disassociated in time and dimension. One might be an emotion, the next thing a pattern image, the third thing an object or a picture I have seen somewhere. I can never remember when and from where the elements come together in my head. I trust synergy and change. For fall 2012, I was thinking about no design being design, about very ordinary fabric (wool felt) being strong. Somehow, the two-dimension level of thinking became apparent.

“I do not feel happy when a collection is understood too well. For me, White Drama was too easily understood, the concept too clear. I feel better about fall 2012, because it wasn’t too clear, and some people assumed things it had nothing to do with, like the Internet age.

“The struggle to find something new gets more and more difficult with time and experience, so this time, for fall 2012, my feeling was to try to make a collection by doing very little.”

* * *

Rei Kawakubo interview

By Ronnie Cooke Newhouse
Interview Magazine
November 2008

Rei Kawakubo was interviewed in Paris by Ronnie Cooke-Newhouse, a longtime friend and creative director who has created advertising for Comme des Garçons among others.

RONNIE COOKE-NEWHOUSE: Journalists sometimes describe you as intellectual, ascribing to you a kind of rigorous, cerebral approach to fashion. Is there another way you would describe yourself?

REI KAWAKUBO: I am not conscious of any intellectual approach as such. My approach is simple. It is nothing other than what I am thinking at the time I make each piece of clothing, whether I think it is strong and beautiful. The result is something that other people decide.

RCN: Next year the company will be 40 years old. When you started, you did so to be a free and independent woman in Japan. How do you remain free?

RK: In terms of creation, I have never thought of suiting any system or abiding by any rules-either a long time ago or right now. In this respect I have remained free. The necessity has grown, as we have gotten bigger, to think about commercial aspects of the business more and more, because of the responsibility we have toward our staff and our factories.

RCN: Does the deadline of having to show a collection a few times a year help or hinder your creative process?

RK: Since we are in the business of fashion, deadlines are normal. I can't say if they help or hinder me.

RCN: What is so important about being new? Does creation have to be new?

RK: Creation takes things forward. Without anything new there is no progress. Creation equals new.

RCN: Why do you always go back to black?

RK: I have always liked black. However, recently black has become as habitual as denim, so I wanted to find tomorrow's black.

RCN: How do you balance art and commerce and still remain free.

RK: Feeling free inside oneself is being free.

RCN: Is there something hopelessly bourgeois about being an artist? Do you escape that by making something utilitarian, even if it is described as art?

RK: It is not in order to escape. There is surely worth in making simple things, and there is worth when utility is the concept. But art need not be bourgeois, necessarily. There is nothing bourgeois, for example, about hair artist Julien d'Ys great creation for this collection, where hair, hat, and makeup become one.

RCN: Fashion has become a big business, dominated by large corporate enterprises, like LVMH and the Gucci Group. You collaborate with this world, as you recently did with Louis Vuitton, but you also hold yourself completely apart from it. What is your attitude toward the dominance of fashion by these corporate entities?

RK: There's no deep meaning. It's just business. But even with business methods and ideas, it is necessary to have something new.

RCN: Is fashion purely a practical and aesthetic activity, or does it possess a moral dimension?

RK: What you wear can largely govern your feelings and your emotions, and how you look influences the way people regard you. So fashion plays an important role on both the practical level and the aesthetic level.

RCN: Do you care about critics and commentators?

RK: It would have more meaning for me to hear what critics have to say if their values and their ways of living were deeper and more serious.

RCN: Comme des Garçons has one eye-from fabric, form, shape, shops, and communication to the way you run your company. That is obviously very important to you.

RK: For me this goes without saying, given the -nature of the company I decided to create. It is primordial.

RCN: You say you are a fashion designer, but many people call you an artist. Why do you think they see you as one?

RK: I guess it's because I endeavor to make clothes that didn't exist before.

RCN: Does creating around the human form put limitations on your work?

RK: There are no limits.

RCN: How does it work with Junya and Tao? At what point do you see their collections?

RK: They are members of the Comme des Garçons company, and I see their collections at the rehearsal just before the shows.

RCN: Have you ever been tempted to sell the company?

RK: I have wondered what it would mean for us and a buyer to join together.

RCN: You don't seem to want to be defined or aligned. How would you define yourself?

RK: I don't think of myself as anyone special, and I would not know how to define myself.

RCN: An artist friend defined the difference between art and fashion this way: What an artist makes and sees stays as is; what a designer makes is like two objects-one is what is perceived in a shop and the other is how it looks in the mirror.

RK: Is finding a difference so important, really? Fashion is not art. The aims of fashion and art are different and there is no need to compare them.

RCN: Does the economic downturn affect the way you approach designing a collection. Do you think you have to design easier pieces?

RK: Comme des Garçons has always traveled at its own pace and will continue to do so. In good times and bad times the company is more or less the same.

RCN: You don't use real fur. You won't work with real fur?

RK: I love all animals.
post #7 of 31
Style Salvage interview with Aitor Throup

Treasured Items
Friday, 14 September 2012

Visit the link to see the full text along with photographs.


SS: I've always been intrigued by the play between art and design in your work and the launch of your design manifesto plays into that. I remember you reciting a quote you had read at your talk with Sarah Mower at the V&A a few years ago, 'artists create problems, designers solve them'...
Aitor Throup: When I graduated, even though it was from a design school, I wasn't a designer, I was actually more like an artist. I don’t think that the things that got me noticed were about the design. I don't even feel as though I designed those things, that collection; it designed itself really. I ease my work into being but how could I design the jacket of a saxophone player which incorporates a deconstructed modular version of their saxophone case, for example? You can come up with the idea but all of those elements are already there, pre-determined. It's about not taking direct blame for the aesthetic components or results. I'm obsessed with the idea of justification. For example, with the New Orleans collection, it just had to be a double breasted peaked lapel jacket made from black wool suiting because that is what they wear, it is a contextual point of reference to make it relevant to my story. After that I'm just constructing it as the concept dictates. Everything is there, I'm just giving a skin to the idea and then it comes out and you're still left thinking 'wow, I didn't expect that'. That's the reward. The unexpected is the definition of true innovation.

Everything you've worked on feels so new. This cannot be an easy process...
Aitor Throup: To achieve newness, you have to go through a process that's validated and justified before you know what the item will look like. That's what interests me and excites me - that true newness. It can be beautiful or ugly, it just has to be. Everything has to have a reason - that's the fundamental thing that I've realised. You don’t need a function or a purpose to validate; you need a reason. When I was doing these collections, my reasoning of the contextualisation of ideas were finished. They were perfect. That's why I was able to speak with confidence about newness and the process that I was going through. I wasn't designing products but rather designing processes, I already had my justified design philosophy and the idea of branding through construction and ideas of unique blocks that make an archetypal way of designing, but that was as close as I got to being a designer. All of that stuff was art - inventing new forms which were heavy with conceptual narrative - and then I felt that this could be important, if the same level of newness that I had achieved with the conceptual thinking and the creation of new forms could be accomplished through an equally new and unique methodology of product construction and manufacturing. At that point I shifted my focus away from Art, towards the mechanics and engineering behind true product design; in order for the overall ‘artwork’ to be about newness.

SS: It has been six years since your acclaimed graduate collection, 'When Football Hooligans Become Hindu Gods' and it has been a process of evolution to now. Could you talk us through this period?
Aitor Throup: At that point, six years ago, I had my concept and art and had to do one of two things. Firstly, figure out a way around the seasonal limitations because I knew that I didn't want to create bullshit newness every six months i.e. thematic newness, as it just didn't interest me and I knew that the concepts I was generating were so close to my heart that I didn't want to let go of them ever, especially after 6 months. Secondly, I needed the impact of the product itself and how it is constructed to be equal to that of the art and the new forms. In the pursuit for newness and new forms the beautiful thing is that regardless how much conceptual depth there may be behind a product, it should also be able to be enjoyed purely through its aesthetic value, without explanation. I guess that having that option is what defines successful Art. To appreciate great art, you can be well versed in the artist and their artworks; which is possible with my work and the manifesto, but a lot of people just know that it is good or right without knowing anything about it. Great artwork is penetrable on many different levels. I knew that I didn't have that level of impact with the product. You can't invent this new way of thinking and new forms and then stitch it all together with a cheap overlocking machine; it just doesn’t feel right.

SS: So you were conscious that it would belittle the concept and narrative. So much time has since been invested in the construction...
Aitor Throup: I wanted a complete experience. New thinking, new form and new construction - everything had to be new. It has to sort of feel alien, but not in a scary way; in an attractive way. It could be a simple t-shirt or shirt but it has to leave people wondering about it. My work can be misconstrued as a quest for perfection but for me perfection is a negative term because it is hierarchical. It leads to the attachment of words like good, better, best, perfect. To be honest, I feel like I will never have the resources to push myself to make things 'better' even. We have spent six years in the studio, not even having the luxury of working to good, better, best but rather just right or wrong. Once you get to right, which I often refer to as correct, then you can start thinking about improving it but to get to correct, it has taken us up to this point. Correct is so difficult to achieve because my thinking is so precise. People end up being lazy, so they concentrate on being ‘better’ without caring whether they are approaching the problem or the solution in the correct way or not.

SS: This attitude, sheer focus and investment of time is rare in fashion...
Aitor Throup: What happens a lot and what is sad to me in fashion, is that it is widely accepted for people to utilise existing standardised solutions to ongoing problems. Even clothing the human body with a piece of flat fabric for example; the way I think, that is a problem because you have a three dimensional form that moves and changes and you just have a flat piece of fabric: which fabric do you use for what purpose, how do you cut it, where do you stitch, what shapes do you make, that is always where I start but so many designers just use specific existing blocks without questioning it to start their process, borrowing pre-existing forms. For them the true design process comes in the decoration of an existing form but that's not what interests me. I love a lot of fashion and I would never want to under-value it but it is not what I do, I wouldn't get a reward from operating like that.

SS: Given your desire to create truly new products, it can be all to easy to forget that you do look back...
Aitor Throup: I think all successful art and design that is truly new has to respect contextual points of reference and has to reference the history that came before it, other wise it is just abstract art. It is ego-centric, like painting with your eyes closed, and is the antithesis of what I do. You need to use the vocabulary of history to create resonance. It is why narratives are important because they are a design tool to allow me to tap in to points of reference. When I reference garments, it is a conceptual borrowing. For example, in the Football Hooligans collection, everything was a direct replica of a generic military garment because it is a reference to the most widely adopted and respected brands by the hooligans. That is sort of how Massimo Osti started C.P. Company and Stone Island, by exploring and re-creating utilitarian garments and making beautiful Frankenstein monsters out of them. I was effectively mirroring his own design process by starting with the military garments and transforming them in my own way which just so happened to be a metamorphosis into Hindu Gods. Every garment was a football hooligan transforming into a Hindu God. Everything I do is set out in the writing of the concept and narrative; it almost becomes a recipe.

SS: How would you describe your design process?
Aitor Throup: When I'm designing I am following my own instruction manual to create specific boundaries to focus and contain the work. The design process is in the writing. I don't generally use drawing to illustrate an idea. I use drawing to either inspire an idea or to draw from it after it has been made - it's weird. I don't know anyone else who works like that, I'm interested to know if anyone does, where they don't know what's going to come out at the end, and the drawing process itself results in a design.

SS: Having followed your work for some time with a keen interest, the presentation at London Collections: Men made complete sense to me but I'm sure a few people were left scratching their heads because it certainly challenged the norm. How has the reaction been to 'New Object Research'?
Aitor Throup: There were obviously a few head scratchers, but overall we've been surprised and overwhelmed by how instantly adopted it has been, whether in London, Paris or Trieste – the three places I found myself at immediately after the presentation. I've been to all of these places before and there are people in each who have continuously supported me, but this year was almost like; getting the manifesto out, has done two things. Firstly, it has put everything into one place where I can just point interested people to it because everything is there which makes me confident, and secondly, at the same time, the cathartic exercise of completing it has made me a different person, it has taken a big weight off my shoulders. When I started generating my design philosophies it was really in order for me to keep my sanity, a system of thought in which I could make sense of stuff. The ultimate is, if you're like a ball of energy that needs to be creative but at the same time you need to be analytical and mathematical about everything, normally they would contradict each other and that can't exist, so I went about creating these perfectly hermetically sealed perspex boxes which is my concept, the process, the design philosophy and narrative and once created I could then let my creative energy go - it can bounce around within it. I see it as these beautifully created boxes which contain the artistic mass, it can't escape from it, it is focused yet free to be.

Ultimately, I used London Collections: Men to remind people of my concepts and explain why I hadn't fully launched previously. The reason being that I hadn't figured out a business model that allows me to keep expanding ideas whilst producing products at the same high level as the concepts themselves. I wanted to make sure everyone came for an hour and I engineered a way for that to happen with the BFC thanks to Tim and Sarah's presence. Really, in addition to acting as a re-introduction to the industry, it was subverting the power of it, just like I did with Legs: the idea of the newest designer on the block launching their brand with a retrospective. Ultimately, my point is to show people that they can do whatever is right for them. If everyone did then it would be amazing, far more exciting. It was a little frustrating because we had a number of products ready by the time June came around, but it was all about restraint and making the event all about launching in six months and showing and selling just one piece, the Shiva Skull Bag. Presenting one piece only is a great way to force people to consider you as a product designer.

SS: Buyers and consumers alike are attracted to the confidence of Aitor Throup...
Aitor Throup: I think so. When we went to Paris we had a list of all these incredible stores we wanted to work with, but we ended up having to turn some of our favourite stores down. It is testament to the fact that these perceived boundaries and rules don't really work. Some of my favourite designers in the history of fashion have been victims of the indoctrination of the industry, the fact that they were forced into doing things a certain way. If they had done things in a slightly different way, their output might have been more prolific. It is what my manifesto is all about, it is my instruction manual of the ways in which I can protect and communicate my true art within the limitations of the fashion industry. My particular approach is all about creating timeless product archetypes extracted from non-seasonal continuous concepts, but imagine what some people could come up with as a unique system and business model of design more suited to the way they naturally work. I want to encourage that and empower people if I can, as the prospect is truly exciting for me.

SS: You chose to unveil the ‘Shiva Skull Bag,’ a completely functional military bag constructed in the shape of a human skull, as your first archetypal product but I'd like to talk a little about its larger cousin, the backpack.
Aitor Throup: The backpack is from one of my concepts: 'On the Effects of Ethnical Stereotyping.' It was all about how a black backpack can represent terror and death when you look at it in a certain way on the wrong person. It stems from the terror attacks in London in 2005. Through personal experience, people would get off the tube or bus I was on because I had a black rucksack, a beard and a bit of a tan. The project was about political fashion and at the time, and perhaps still, the most political item of apparel was the black rucksack. It was about conveying that sense of terror through product design in a second; so, it became an upside down skull: representing death, but only when you look at it the wrong way. I love the simplicity of a message teamed with the complexity of the product. So much effort went into designing this beautiful thing but ultimately it is so simple, an upside down skull that's perfectly functional that conveys this real, moral and political message in its very form. It's an artwork but it is all about product design. It had to be the best rucksack in the world that just so happens to be a piece of art. A marriage of art and product design. I love the balance: you don't know why you like it, it could be its form, function, meaning, construction, you love it all, that's the feeling I want to capture.

SS: Even hearing you talk about that feeling is exciting...
Aitor Throup: It is kind of like how you used to see a new toy, it's the closest feeling I can think of. When you're a kid and you get a new toy, everything about that toy excites you. It's the form, the shape, the name of the character, the smell, the colours, the joints, you love everything about it. I want my work to be like toys. There's as much value in the object as in what it represents, the character and where it comes from. If you get an articulated figure of Spiderman you don't just say *dons serious voice* 'Oh yes, this figure articulates well, it is made solidly," it is heavy with contextual value, it's Spiderman! You've read a thousand comics, watched the cartoons and all the films and all of that is embedded in this object. It's as much about the non physicality of it and what it is about rather than just what it is as an object. My clothes are like toys, that's the philosophy.

SS: That's a lovely analogy. What were your favourite toys?
Aitor Throup: I never grew out of toys really. I still play with them. I picked up a few Starcom ones recently actually. They are amazing, so cool. They pack so much in to these tiny cubes; they contain so much thought and functionality. I want to collect all of them now. They just transform. They are similar to my clothes in a lot of ways, the fact you can stow certain functional elements away and their systematic aesthetics, they look like that because of their activation - just like the feet on my trousers for example.

There are more talks with Aitor Throup that are not formatted like a typical interview, but they have some more insights and sound bites from the designer about his work and influences on the same website.

A conversation with Aitor Throup
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
I was about to post that one next ! A great read, I think we should have an official Aitor Throup thread, the time is right;
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 

i-D The Elevator Issue

#191 October 1999

post #10 of 31
Yeah that interview is excellent for sure. The penultimate bit about comparing his clothing to toys is the real clincher for me. I was like "this guy is really doing what I want to see!" when I read that, hehe.

I am also definitely down for an Aitor thread. In the middle of trying to structure the OP for one actually. Will probably PM you in a bit smile.gif.

Think I should be able to scan some of the interviews from A Magazine curated by YY. There are quite a few interesting ones in there, but not all are with fahsion designers. Is it cool to post those too? Like the one with Charlotte Rampling and another with Paolo Roversi?
post #11 of 31
"Q: What are you wearing? A: an elevator."

post #12 of 31
Originally Posted by Ivwri View Post

Think I should be able to scan some of the interviews from A Magazine curated by YY. There are quite a few interesting ones in there, but not all are with fahsion designers. Is it cool to post those too? Like the one with Charlotte Rampling and another with Paolo Roversi?

I found a copy of the A magazine by YY for a decent price. Was thinking of grabbing it. Worth it?
post #13 of 31
Originally Posted by snake View Post

I found a copy of the A magazine by YY for a decent price. Was thinking of grabbing it. Worth it?

Yeah I definitely think so. Loads of cool photos (both fashion and otherwise) and some nice interviews.
post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 
The first six issues of A Magazine are definitely worth it if you can find them for a non-extortionate price.


Raf Simons meets Kanye West

November 2008

Here they talk about style, music, and why it's good to be the outsider on the playground. We started off asking them what they were like as children.

RAF SIMONS: I was born in this very small village in Belgium. It wasn't really a creative environment. In school, creating was kept away from young people. The village was so small there was no outlet except for one little record store. I think that is where it started for me-just picking up records. I'm 40 years old, so it was LPs. The first LP I ever bought-you're going to be shocked-was Bob Marley. Then I switched to Kraftwerk, Joy Division, and that kind of stuff. I was a bit dark at that time because I felt so isolated. But not only me, there were some other young people who felt that way. We loved to dress in black. I was growing up in the New Wave period, but that wasn't allowed in school. I remember moments when they wouldn't let four people dressed in black stand together on the playground. Then, before I graduated, I remember finding this book, and there was one page about industrial design. Basically, I ended up going to school for that. At that time there was a big boom going on with fashion in Belgium. The more I looked, the more I became interested. Before that I never even thought to become a fashion designer or anything like that. I started feeling that work when I was 19 years old, but I didn't do my first collection until I was 27. I wanted to finish my education in industrial design first. My parents are very holy to me. They never said, "You should do this," or "You should do that." My dad had to go in the army when he was 16, and he stayed there. My mom was a cleaning lady her whole life. The only thing they said to me was: "Take it seriously. Do what you what you believe in, but take it seriously." So the fourth year, I had to go for an internship. I went to Walter Van Beirendonck. I knocked on his door, and I was super scared-because I had nothing to do with fashion. But he was interested. He had absolutely zero interest in all of the fashion work I had faked to impress him. He just went straight to my industrial-design stuff. He said, "I really want you to come because, next to the fact that I am a fashion designer, I have this presentation in Paris and objects to make. I'm not a traditional designer." I ended up doing that with him, and he took me to Paris, and I saw my first show, which was the third show for Martin Margiela. Nothing else in fashion has had such a big impact on me. It was a show where half the audience cried, including myself. I was just like, "What! This is fashion?" Only at that point did I understand what fashion could be or what it could mean to people. It was the "white" show, where all the models wore dresses in white and transparent plastic. Margiela had no money at the time, so the Maison ended up going to a black neighborhood in Paris and asking if they could use a children's playground for the show. The parents said, "Yes, you can have the playground, but we want our children to be able to see it." So little black children were standing with the audience in the front row. The children started to run over to the models, and they picked them up and held them around their necks.

KANYE WEST: For me, I realized the psychology behind having Jordans growing up-what it meant culturally, or what it meant to be a child just trying to fit in. When my parents divorced, my mother moved to Chicago, and my father stayed in Maryland. My mother lived in an all-black neighborhood. My father lived in an all-white neighborhood. When I got to Maryland, I had to adjust to a more affluent neighborhood than what I was used to in Chicago. Then when I went back to Chicago, I had to readjust to that. Then my mother and I moved to China for a year when I was in fifth grade. I had to adjust to a place where there was nobody my age, not to mention any black kids out there. Those were scary situations, but it made me able to open up my mind to other cultures and be accepting. And that is the greatest blessing, to have those experiences, because I can adapt to other cultures and still be who I am. So you see, with my style, there is a bit of Paris and a bit of Japan and a bit of the suburbs. A lot of people's style looks very specific to one region.

RS: That's very good. Having your feet in the middle, you can see everything very differently. I think it's beyond fantastic, actually. Dress codes and gestures and attitudes have always inspired me, as has youth culture in general, although now I question it more. If you analyze youth cultures over history, there has always been something strict about them-you have to be like this or like that. I'm actually surprised that in the 21st century, it can still be so present: They are still environments with walls around them.

KW: What I've noticed in the last few months, especially since my mom passed, is that everything is a cult. I don't mean cult in a bad way, just that everything's been cultivated for us. New ideas are the new roads, the dirt roads, that people have to pave. In order to go through the dirt roads, you have to get scratched with sticks, and you end up dirty if you have any new concepts. America is made not to have new concepts. It's there to live alongside strip malls and be beaten by mundaneness. Even hip-hop is: "You can't do this, you can't say that. These are the rules of hip-hop." One of my friends, Ludacris, wanted me to make a song called "Did It for Hip-Hop." On the song I was gonna talk about how I didn't do anything for hip-hop-I did it for myself. I did subscribe to the cult of hip-hop at one point, and I am very hip-hop because of it. But I have a lot of ideas that extend way further than the rules of hip-hop. In Japan you see guys that are dressed completely hip-hop, but they're completely nice also. They'll come up to you, looking like they'll rob you and instead they bow. I find a lot of similarities between myself and the Japanese, because sometimes they look at something from the outside, and take the best of what they like about it, and then they'll work extremely hard at pushing it to another level. They'll take a piece of Americana, like jeans, buy all the jean mills, and then be the master at those jeans. From a music standpoint, I stayed in Chicago, where there's no music industry, no outlets, nobody else that can make beats with me, not on the level of New York. Whereas in New York, everyone knew one another-you could be a small producer and sell a beat really quickly. So I would work on the beat so much that by the time I got to New York, the ones I was making were way better than anyone else's. They were like, "Damn! Your beats sound like they're completed songs!" 'Cause people would just do beats that were a sample, like a really basic idea. Then they'd have a keyboard player come in, a person who's a specialist at drums, and an engineer. And I'm doing all this in my room, right next to my mother, trying to beat five producers, taking the entire summer off, not getting a haircut, not getting any new shoes, 'cause I couldn't afford them-and it's like what Japanese people do: They see it and they end up doing it way better than the culture that made it. You once told me that if you didn't do fashion, you would have done psychology.

RS: I like to find out things about people. I'm interested in them. But part of being a psychiatrist is also having to find out about people you don't have an interest in.

KW: Right. That's the problem. Whenever you take a job that you think you're gonna love, there's gonna be situations like that, where you also have to work with people who you're not as interested in, until you get to the point where you're at the very top of your game and you can just be like, "No, I don't want to do this at all." Until then, you haven't reached your ultimate goal in life-a lot of people don't realize that the ultimate goal in life is to not have to do anything you don't want to do. Most people think the solution is to make a lot of money. The only problem is some people fall into the trap where money becomes the prison, and they end up having to do a bunch of things that they don't want to do for money to get that couple weeks of vacation where they feel like they're not doing anything they don't want to do. So, for me, I try to design my life like it's a big vacation every single day, every moment of my life. That's the goal. Like, I wouldn't rather be doing anything more right now than talking on the phone with Raf Simons, one of my idols and someone I've studied so much. I was in a Jil Sander store for an hour yesterday, looking at the collars and studying the way the marble print was put on the sweaters.

RS: That means a lot to me, and that's also why I continue to do what I do. For me, I think that the 21st century almost doesn't allow the beauty of something really small and out of the spotlight. I deal now with two labels, my own, which is a very small label, and Jil, which is a very big, corporate business label. I see the difference, and every day I work there I think, What is now best for me?-because I like both very much. My own mentality is to make it small, like my own environment. In that sense I relate to what you were saying because I enjoy just working with my people every day. But our society doesn't allow that. Our society wants things to grow, and our society wants things to become bigger and bigger. Everything has to be put under the spotlight.

KW: Where I came from in Chicago, we didn't have the term hip-hop. People didn't even know how to state the way I dressed or acted and what my mannerisms were. It's like how you said there were only a few people who dressed in black. I can't even think of one person in my school who dressed like me. There are new boxes and barriers that I'm breaking down every day. Coming from the hip-hop community, one of the things that you're never allowed to do is to speak about gay people unless you're disrespecting them. You couldn't be friends with gay people, you couldn't be in the car with them, you had to look at them in a completely different way, like they weren't even real people. I was working with my interior decorator, which was a big step for me because he was gay and I would have to ride in a car [with him] to go pick out fabrics and furniture. And I'd always think, What if a picture of me got shot and they put it on the Internet and they all said that's my boyfriend? Then in hip-hop, they would be like, "Oh, Kanye's gay, so we can't listen to his raps because he broke a rule of hip-hop."

RS: You break them, and you keep on breaking them, I would say.

KW: Yeah. Now that I've broken that, I feel much freer that I can be creative and not deal with stereotypes. America beats stereotypes into people. Recently there was this whole Bonnaroo situation. I didn't realize that actual racism was still alive, because at a certain point, once you become famous, you're no longer black or white, you're just green-you're just money. So when you walk in any store there's a certain level of: "Oh, he's not a black guy. He's a famous guy now!" When I went to that Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, they definitely reminded me that I was a black guy. On 12 port-a-potties they wrote in bold letters fuck kanye. They didn't allow my crew to load on the stage; the promoter allowed Pearl Jam to do three encores. The sun was starting to come up, and the whole point of my show was that it was glow in the dark. They bled my cryo tanks so I wouldn't have smoke. I felt so naïve, 'cause it clicked in my head: Oh, wow, this is really done on purpose.

RS: Being popular, is it something you want?

KW: I wrestle with it every day, because you still have to figure out how to use it in a good way. It's like a girl being beautiful. It can be a gift or a curse. It's like you could be one step away from being Kurt Cobain. Or you could be like Ralph Lauren, where you take your influence and help paint the world. Basically, I work constantly on coming up with ideas to paint the world.

RS: I wonder if you still find it necessary to dress a certain way when you perform. I'm just thinking back in time, when there were performers that constantly created revolutions. That's how it started for me, you know? The musicians I was interested in I liked even more because they were such amazing chameleons. You have people such as David Bowie. In a way, I could compare him to you. You are a 21st-century boy, you know? I mean, Bowie goes to Berlin, and 9,000 people go to his concert expecting him to look like Ziggy Stardust, and he looked like the Thin White Duke. If you're interested in popularity, it's also very clear in today's society, that that is the way to make yourself popular, because changing is ultimate freedom.
post #15 of 31

as promised a few months ago


BLESS Interview Mono Kulture 28.pdf (3.4 MB)!3shAnJDb!dfh1gBOp3PcSXpxbPHM_L2AxCIw3RS4kT3YeoH4MaxE

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