Frederic Sanchez

AnOther – 13 Juin 2016

Craig Green’s Epic of Ascension
We reflect on the boy scout sentimentality and remarkable finesse of the young London designer’s S/S17 collection

Text Olivia Singer
Photography Dham Srifuengfung
Photographic Editor Holly Hay

It was only a couple of days before his S/S17 show that Craig Green told me, “We haven’t even put the looks together yet.” “It’s kind of mad,” he continued, “it’s still changing hour by hour.” In fact, it wasn’t until the day before the show that the structure of the collection finally took shape; fittings were still being done up until the last possible moment before the models took to the runway. If he wasn’t so open about it all, you’d never have guessed, simply because S/S17 had a grace that you can hardly imagine was created quite so close to the mark. Over recent seasons, Green has become the darling of London Collections: Men, his nuanced subversions of masculinity – explored through collections that, when dissembled piece by piece, are remarkably wearable – has offered some much-needed elegance in a week that can often feel a bit higgledy-piggledy. This season saw his aesthetic achieve its greatest heights yet: a considered development on familiar signatures executed with a gentle finesse in both fabrication and form. 

There were trousers cut to the knee, leaving their fabric to flap around the calves, sleeves loosely bound to jackets, scarves gently dangling from the hands of the models – even when hoods were pulled close around the face, they felt far from constricting but, rather, free. The outerwear was created to look “as though it was a tent flying apart” and sometimes backs were completely left bare and just laced with strings, because “there’s something tortuous about wrapping someone in all that quilting in summer”. While extending straps and half-undone stitching have become signatures of Green’s, this time that looseness felt romantic rather than deliberately appearing rushed – and, with a single white flag of surrender providing the starting point for his inspirations, that serenity made sense both on initial impact and on closer inspection.

An Accredited Confidence
While last season’s show was rife with ominous undertones – sutured straitjackets and hazmat safety suits, padded coats constructed from punching bag leathers – this collection showed a graceful, almost monastic, surety. It can be no coincidence, then, that just last month Green won the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund: a prize that extends beyond endorsement and offers £150,000 investment alongside business mentorship. Green won’t receive the funding until September, so “there’s not a direct influence” he says – but to ignore the confidence boost that must surely accompany such accreditation would be naïve, and it was transparently visible throughout the show. There was a quiet power in its gentle masculinity, a refined beauty to its thoughtfulness – and, while Green’s clothes always seem self-assured, this time they were entirely without the underlying anxiety that can often colour them.

An Exploration of Peace
So, to the colours. While Green started out making his name through saturated palettes, last season’s was subdued: silks hand-washed again and again until they felt exhausted. This time, too, the pieces were boil-bleached and re-dyed – but even when they were more vibrant they felt dusky and sentimental: North African bed sheets were love-worn and faded, turned into delicate patchworks for gentle jackets and relaxed trousers. Boyscout flags – first in reds and greens, later in peaches and mints – were bleached into “really strange colours that you would never pick at first” and draped around waists and torsos but, rather than constricting their models, they were carefully slung, completely harmonious.
“I see [the collections] as one big story, and every season is a reaction to the one before,” he said and, between the influence of flags and the exoticism of prints, Green’s boys moved away from their A/W16 armour and became explorers; they were a modern rendition of Captain John Noel’s documentation of Mallory and Irvine in The Epic of Everest, paying nostalgic tribute to British mountaineers and schoolboyish scout escapades. With such mammoth investment for the business of a small designer soon to arrive, it felt as though, with this collection, Green was preparing to embark on a similarly epic adventure. For a man who last week told Tim Blanks that he’d “never even heard of St Martins” before he ended up there, whose shows have quickly become such a hot ticket and who has found himself with global stockists galore (he’s now in 59 locations), you get the sense that he’s set to reach the summit.

A Score of Sentimentality
Another distinct development in the collection was the score: surging and swelling with emotion and transforming the runway into something distinctly cinematic; you almost expected credits to roll during the finale. While, ordinarily, Green spends the night beforescrolling through YouTube for relevant tracks, this time the music was composed by the legendary Frédéric Sanchez – the man responsible for the auditory backdrops to the likes of Margiela and Marc Jacobs. 
“I saw what he was doing three years ago and I felt very close to his world so I got in touch with him,” Sanchez explained, “I think he was surprised that I wanted to work with him, but I really like to work with people I feel I am close to in some way.” The parity between the two – between the collection and the score – is interesting; once Green had sent Sanchez some references (pictures of fabrics, of boy scouts, of utility clothes), Sanchez started to search for what could work to accompany it, “something that felt familiar”. He ended up mixing different versions of Roy Harper’s Another Day, adding and subtracting layers of sound, fromKate Bush and Peter Gabriel, from Elizabeth Fraser, from Oliver Coates. “I was washing the songs, like he was washing the clothes; I wanted to achieve this strange romanticism,” he explains. Harper himself is determinedly Romantic (with a capital R), and so there was a bizarre and powerful synchronicity with the Keatsian sentimentality of the collection, and its somewhat sublime narrative.
“I saw the response to the show,” says Sanchez afterwards. “And people were touched. It doesn’t happen like that all the time; I have seen that at some Prada shows, some Comme des Garçons shows, but it’s not always like that. It was special.” And special it was. “We are at a crucial stage where we’re almost at the end of NewGen,” Green reflected last week, “and at the end of all of the amazing people who have supported us, doing stuff for next to nothing. Now it’s time to build some foundations, and create a brand that is sustainable.” You certainly get the feeling that he’s well on his way to the top.

Dazed Digital – 12 Juin 2016

Frédéric Sanchez on crafting Craig Green’s SS17 soundtrack

Exclusive: the legendary sound director discusses soundtracking the designer’s poetic SS17 show – plus, discover his track list

At his SS17 show on Friday, Craig Green captivated the fashion industry once more with a collection that drew on Boy Scouts and Indian draping. It was an emotional show, both because of the poetry of the collection and the touching soundtrack created by cult music composer Frédéric Sanchez.
“I’ve followed Craig’s work for a while,” said Sanchez, who has worked with Comme des Garçons,Prada and Jil Sander among others, speaking ahead of the show. “What I like about his work is that you have things from the past meet things from the future – like Symbolist paintings. There is something so inspiring and poetic about it. I wanted to work with him and, you know, try and enter his world.”
And enter his world he did, with a soundtrack featuring Oliver Coates, Colin Self, Kate Bush, Vampillia and Roy Harper. Music, says Sanchez, is like the “decor” or “perfume” that helps turn the presentation of clothes into something more special, engaging the audience’s ears as well as their eyes. Backstage at the show, Green said that the music we heard was the first mix Sanchez gave him to listen too. “It was just a really easy, natural process,” he said, commenting on his experience of working with the producer. 
Of course, Sanchez’s decision to work with Green is interesting in and of itself – he worked on Martin Margiela’s debut show in ’88 and has worked with other designers from the very start of their careers. “There’s something that attracted me (about Green’s work). You know, it’s exactly the same feeling I had when I first saw some things from Margiela, Yohji, and Comme.” As Green’s career goes from strength to strength (he’s just won a major grant), his collaboration with Sanchez is further proof that there’s much more to come from the designer. 

TRACK LIST
1. Oliver Coates, “Another Day (Bryce Hackford Remix)”, Another Fantasy
2. Colin Self, “Elation I”, Elation
3. Oliver Coates, “Another Day”, Towards The Blessed Islands
4. Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel, “Live in Europe 79 & 80”, Another Day
5. Vampillia, “Hope”, Some Nightmares Take You Aurora
6. Roy Harper, “Another Day”, Songs of Love and Loss, Vol. 1 & 2

Business Of Fashion – 9 Juin 2016

Can Craig Green Build a Real Business?

On the eve of London Collections: Men, the designer talks exclusively to Tim Blanks about turning his undeniable creative vision into ‘product that people want to buy.’

BY TIM BLANKS
LONDON, United Kingdom — Craig Green owns five t-shirts, two pairs of jeans and a jacket. It’s one of his own, a quilted, lace-tied worker’s jacket in indigo cotton that he based on the black jean jacket he’d been wearing every day up till that point. It’s all he needs, really, when his sturdy worker’s frame wears it so well. It’s always reassuring when a menswear designer looks good in his own clothes, even more so when those clothes pose a challenge to the sartorial status quo, as Green’s often have. But since his first show for Spring/Summer 2015, he’s been able to successfully insinuate his design signatures into London’s fashion lexicon, to the point where you can see Craig’s Children being born in the next generation of talent coming through. That influence was recognised in May, when Green scooped £150,000 from the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund.

“We’ll have a table this season, we won’t have to sit on boxes.” That’s what his tiny team cried plaintively on news of his win. They’ll find out whether that’s the case when the money comes through in September. Before then, there’s Green’s show for Spring 2017, the highlight of the opening day of London Collections: Men. But first, the designer has to finish it.

I thought last season’s collection had echoes of North Africa in its desert tones and nomad stripes. They’re more explicit for Spring 2017. Hand-blocked prints in bleached-out pastel tones are borrowed, says Green, from old Moroccan bed sheets. “I wanted to go back to colour and print. We did it a lot at the beginning with all those hand-painted pieces, but not since then. Last season was faded, aged and washed. It was an older energy. So this time, we started with acidic, really saturated colour. But then we decided we didn’t like that, so we bleached everything out, going for a more romantic feeling. Then it all shrank, so we had to make it all again. We’re never really finished ‘till the last minute.” And that everything-changing-by-the-second chaos is, according to the designer, pretty par for the pre-show course in the Green atelier. “We’re never really finished to the last minute, we tend to make a lot of samples,” he adds drolly.

It’s something of a tradition for iconoclastic talents to announce themselves with their degree shows. Green’s MA presentation set a fearless precedent with three-dimensional forms that turned men into mobile sculptures. Since then, his collections have consistently evoked pagan robes, priestly vestments, warriors, wicker men and workers from a medieval future. But he himself never tried to define his own aesthetic until he applied for the BFC/GQ Fashion Fund. “We had to sit down and really work out what the brand was about. Why do we have shows like this? Why do we have products like this?” The whole procedure was compounded by the fact that Green is working with a music producer for the first time on his new show. Frederic Sanchez being the industry’s go-to guy for soundtracks that often provoke, occasionally bemuse, and always transcend mere music for models to walk to, this is quite a coup for Green, but he had no idea who Sanchez was when he started e-mailing three years ago. Now, working with him, Green finds once again that he has had to define himself, to help Sanchez create one of the complementary aural profiles for which he is famous.

So, was there definition forthcoming?

“I don’t know if we ever managed to,” he admits. And he’s aware that at some point, he’ll need to. “We’re about to come to end of the Newgen sponsorship and the studio sponsorship from [the Alexander McQueen foundation] Sarabande, so in the next year or so, we’re going to have put down roots to last a bit longer. There’s only so many favours and freebies people are going to do now, especially when they know we have the GQ money.” There’s a little rue mixed into the pride when Green adds, “We have no investment, no credit cards, no overdraft and no backers.”

But he has, at least, been able to nail the physical nature of his business. “One side is creative, the other side is uniforms and workwear. And sometimes, they’re fighting.” The creative side is theatrical, clearly responsible for the shows, and the sculptural pieces that end up in exhibitions, and gigs like the recent costuming exercise for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel. (“We did all the sleeperwear and the clothes the mercenaries wear to fight the alien,” says Green.) The other side, the uniforms, hang in shops like Selfridges, Dover Street Market, Barneys, L’Eclaireur, 10 Corso Como, and Opening Ceremony, where women are drawn to them almost as often as men. That gender-neutrality might indicate something significant about the conceptual essence of Green’s clothes: strong but romantic, functional but emotional, the warrior’s edge tempered by an air of melancholy.

During LC:M a year ago, Nick Knight and Green collaborated on a photo shoot for the windows of Dover Street Market. The clothes reminded Knight of the torn sails of a ship after being ravaged by a storm, an almost classically romantic vision. “Craig didn’t pick up on that, he thought it too whimsical. He saw it in a much more brutal way,” says Knight. As brutal, in fact, as the images he brought Knight of rugby players crashing into each other. Green’s presentations have been serenely, markedly anything but brutal, but Knight’s images proved that his clothes look best in visceral movement, when all the ties and trailing laces and artful articulation come alive. So we could mark the tension between serenity and violence as another Green signature.

Something else I find more striking is the essential innocence of his work. It’s a measure of the man who arrived at Central St Martin’s in 2007 having never picked up a fashion magazine, having never heard of Alexander McQueen (so Frederic Sanchez needn’t feel so bad). “It just wasn’t in my realm of knowledge. I’d never even heard of St Martin’s. I quite liked doing art at school and I had this dream of going to do a fine art course in Edinburgh to be a portrait painter. I had a friend at school whose dad was a propmaker for the BBC who told me I had to apply to St Martin’s because it was the best art school in England, so I said I’d come along to an open day with him. I applied, because I thought at least I could do a foundation year, then I met some people outside smoking who said I should come and do fashion communication. ‘We just dress people up for two weeks and take photos.’ I thought that sounded like fun. Then I tried print-making, because it was somewhere between painting and fashion. My idea of fashion was so narrow I was really rubbish at it, and I thought at least I could go into art afterwards. It was really naïve the way it happened.”

At the end of his second year, Green discovered the designers Walter van Beirendonck, Bernhard Willhelm and Henrik Vibskov, and his horizons suddenly expanded exponentially.

“In my placement year, I spent six months with Walter, six months with Henrik, and my whole idea of what fashion could be changed. I saw how everything was a possibility, how everything and anything could be related to fashion. I saw how you could do it as an independent.” It’s not hard to imagine Professor Louise Wilson recognising a budding kindred spirit and impelling him onto her legendary MA course, the farm team of contemporary British fashion.

Commercial success or brand-building or even dressing men was never in Green’s mind. “I think my graduate show was just about creating objects. I was more interested in making something visual, what I would want to see walking around in a catwalk show. It was a really simple idea.” And the media played merry hell with it, as they did for Green’s subsequent efforts under the umbrella of the Lulu Kennedy-curated MAN presentation at LC:M, the “broken fence” collection of Autumn/Winter 2013 occasioning particular mirth. Now, he says, “My favourite shows are those old Galliano shows for Dior. They make me feel emotional. When I watch them, I wish I was there. That dreamy escapism is what we’ve always tried to start with, but you have to have a realism too. Because as soon as you start doing it, the reality kicks in that if you don’t sell, you don’t have money to do the next show.”

Still, even as Green talks about the need to make “product that people want to be buy,” broken fences now a thing of the past, the idealism of his early years in fashion remains unpolluted. “I love the community feeling of what I do. I love [that] I can work with my best friends, I don’t dread going into work, and that’s an amazing thing.” His epiphany, personal and professional, may have been his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, where he proved he could do what he wanted, still make a primal emotional connection with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other people…and launch a business on the back of that connection. At the time, I wrote, “Zen was one of Green’s own reference points, but the mind spiralled away effortlessly into visions of samurais and gurus and barefooted penitents and the Polyphonic Spree and even, for one bedazzled brainiac in the audience, the Children’s Crusade.” Me being the ‘bedazzled brainiac,’ you can take that googly-eyed observation with a snort of sal volatile, but I was scarcely the only person in the audience who was profoundly moved. More to the point, retailers backed up their emotional response with orders. “That collection, we had sales for the first time,” says Green. “Suddenly, we became a business, rather than ‘Let’s do a show and see what happens because maybe we won’t be here in six months.’” Almost the most satisfying of all possible results, in other words.

And that’s the rail that Craig Green rides now, anticipating anticipation. The designer whose entire wardrobe could fit in a carry-on metamorphs those pieces into clothes that tug at the heartstrings, tickle the soul. Because his particular brand of alchemical pragmatism has already carved him an undeniable niche, there will surely be a moment when someone or thing much bigger comes knocking at the door, wanting to capture his lightning in their bottle.

He’s ready.

Photo: Bruno Staub

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L’Officiel – 23 février 2016

Miu Miu dévoile Miu Miusic

Au hit-parade des bandes-son sur les podiums, Frédéric Sanchez se classe en tête. A travers son studio d’illustration sonore, le magnat des platines réussit l’exploit de transcrire l’adn d’une maison.  C’est à lui que la maison Miu Miu a fait appel, pour sa dernière nouveauté high-tech des plus désirables : l’application Miu Miusic. Conçue comme une playlist évolutive pour l’amoureux du beat, l’application applique les codes du luxe exclusif à ses dix tracks inspirés des shows.
Des manteaux à empiècements python ondulant au son des basses aux bottines néo-western qui arpentent le pavé de manière saccadée, les silhouettes contemporaines imaginées par Miuccia Prada se prêtent au jeu du digital. C’est dans la vidéo qui accompagne le lancement de l’application tant attendue par le fashion-system que les collections du label italien se déclinent en kaléidoscope de couleurs, dans une valse endiablée rythmée par le Studio Sanchez. Mannequin d’un jour, il est conseillé de lancer la playlist sur le pavé pour un effet catwalk garanti.

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Miu Miu App 2016 – Composition originale.

Visit the Miu Miusic app page on miumiu.com

Miu Miu fall/winter 2016-17 show video – Composition originale

Prada women fall/winter 2016-17 show video – Composition originale

Moncler Women’s fall/winter 2016-17 video – Composition originale.

SHOWstudio – 15 mars 2016


Lucy Norris reports on Miu Miu show



In a season which has been awash with the new glamour, a late 20th century fixation with decon-recon and mish-mash referencing, Mrs Prada created a classic Miuccia collection.

With the fashion pack on the home straight, the pre-show sounds of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’ struck a chord. The Motown classic filled the venue with energy, and everyone had a front seat (or the option of lounging back on a large square sofa). The mood was relaxed, yet upbeat and exciting. Miu Miu’s placement at the end of the season is an essential one. Being one of the greatest minds in fashion, Miuccia Prada ensures no one gets on a plane – or train – that evening without her having the last word on the season. With an authoritative jubilance, this season’s collection was a celebration of Americana, decadence, romance and dress up.Martin Gaye’s all American soul anthem was eventually stripped back – bar by bar – to a raw acapella version. It sounded fantastic. Prada mirrored the notion by getting down to basics. Denim jackets were worn with men’s style boxer shorts and accessorised with pearls and stiletto heels. 



The American translations of English aristocratic worlds by designers such as Charles James and Ralph Lauren were called to mind. Another layering of referencing had an early 20th century Russian mood evoked via a juxtaposition of Constructivism and pre-revolution Romanov ostentation. Workwear cuts of denim created floor length swagged and ruched skirts, which were one stitch away from having a bustle. Wide velvet buckled belts and floor length tapestry skirts also evoked a Russo-American take on Edwardiana. Disposable tissues poked out of the pockets – and looked like an ironic stab at old fashion notions of formality.



Katie Grand was on board this season as stylist. Prada and Grand’s shared love for a pin up really shone through. A film star glamour twinned with a young irreverence evoked images of grown up American Graffiti style sweethearts. Slicked back hair, furry jewel incrusted slides and rhinestone encrusted denim all added to a nineties supermodel take on the fifties. A Parisian naughtiness also crept in via oversized black stockings, which evoked fallen women – within the highly evocative paintings by Toulouse-lautrec – whilst crisp white bows tied to the back of high heel pumps were Belle du Jour chic. 



It wasn’t just Christian Dior’s 1947 hourglass New Look silhouette we saw here. A lilac cocktail number  – worn by Lara Stone – reminded one of Charles James’ love for a shoulderless dress. A reference on a reference, the cinched waists and full volume waxed belted trenches also cued us in on the fact that Charles James was an overall influence on the mid twentieth century style at Dior. The collection was full of playful touches like oversized crochet dolly collars, and tweed plus fours – which articulated hyper masculine and feminine ideas of traditional dress up. There was a Ralph Lauren dandy portrayal of the English gent, which was layered under Hollywood film star tropes of faux fur, crystal embellished sunglasses and stilettos. The final section saw stately home magazines come alive with an upper Hamptons Edie Beale eclecticism. Beautiful baby blue flocked coats imagined curtains having been pulled from windows – and re-fashioned into high society dress up.



In a season which has been awash with the new glamour, a late 20th century fixation with decon-recon and mish-mash referencing, Mrs Prada created a classic Miuccia collection. Like a champagne toast to the season, she was announcing that she’s been here all along.



AnOther – 11 mars 2016

The Anarchic Revolution at Comme des Garçons

Susannah Frankel considers the creative motivations behind Rei Kawakubo’s magnificently evocative new collection

Text Susannah Frankel Photography Polly Brown Photographic Editor Holly Hay

« Eighteenth century punk, » was the phrase given up by Rei Kawakubo to explain her extraordinary Autumn/Winter 2016 collection for Comme des Garçons last weekend in Paris. If it seems somewhat contradictory in intention – and it would certainly not be the first time this great creator chose to do that – then first impressions may be misleading. After all, the 18th century, in France in particular but elsewhere also, was a revolutionary era. As far as dress in the Directoire period was concerned, the principally aristocratic Les Incroyables and their female counterparts Les Merveilleuses wore clothing that was intentionally and powerfully provocative in its decadence, flying in the face of the politically correct in favour of dressing to impress an inner circle and outrage anyone outside of it. Sounds familiar? Comme des Garçons has always been interested in – and subverted – notions of status in designer clothing. It is surely no coincidence, then, that with fashion (and the world in general) struggling both economically and creatively to recover its composure, this was the reference cited by the powers that be at the label, treated, as always, in an oblique and anarchic way. Kawakubo insists that she operates solely on an instinctive level and that her search is an endless one for the shock of the new but her instincts, albeit subconsciously, are very sensitively aligned to the zeitgeist. That only adds to her influence. Whatever the motivation behind it, this revolutionary fashion force continues to express herself in a manner that leaves others in the shade.

Ready to wear?

While Rei Kawakubo formerly took great pride in the fact that everything she puts on the runway is available in store – and indeed, that continues to be the case today – for the past three years she has reduced the looks in her biannual Comme des Garçons womenswear presentation to the most extreme while, in the showroom, the more obviously commercial pieces that will soon fill her stores are available for buyers and press to view at their leisure. This, in essence, has more in common with an haute couture business model than with ready-to-wear, in as much as her catwalk functions as the pure ‘parfum’ from which everything else – eau de parfum, eau de toilette and so forth – springs. The show pieces in question were as magnificent as ever, drawing on archive clothing and furnishing fabrics reinvented in a brilliantly imaginative and evocative way and transformed into increasingly overblown structures more reminiscent of sculpture than clothing.
The Comme des Garçons signatures were firmly in place: plump coils, huge ruffles, petals, ribbons, bows and a cute CdG take on the pannier all built up into larger-than-life-size constructions that only the fashionably courageous and most Comme des Garçons committed are ever likely to wear. They will look sensational. Those who do choose to invest in these very special designs will also rest safe in the knowledge that their five-figure price tag not only ensures extremely limited production but also serves as an investment. More than a few will doubtless end up as museum pieces. Deservedly so. They are among the most inventive – if not the most inventive – of our time.

The Finer Fabrics

Famously, Kawakubo tends to favour synthetics, quite the finest synthetics in the world. This time, however, she worked predominantly in fine silks and velvets although – more obviously in line with the punk side of the equation – opted for pale pink and true red PVC. Pink – the feminine fashion cliché of choice – and red – once cited by the designer as ‘black’, as in the new black – are both integral to her design process. Otherwise, floral brocades were the order of this particular day, painstakingly sourced and created by four Italian fabric makers, three French fabric makers and one Swiss fabric maker. There were 27 fabrics in total and the result was as colourful and uplifting a patchwork of blooms as has been for some time or perhaps ever here. And that’s quite something coming from a woman who has long upheld black as the non-colour of choice. Again, such rich pickings are traditionally the staples of the haute couture ateliers, although there was nothing even remotely traditional about the way they were treated.

From Top to Toe

If the clothing was rainbow hued, the make-up was pale and the hair black. Longtime Comme des Garçons collaborator Julien D’Ys, responsible for the latter, was given just « Eighteenth century punk » to work with and the end result was the type of sky-high, studiously un-natural design favoured by the eighteenth century upper classes to denote influence, wealth and power. For Comme des Garçons, wigs, while towering, were witty, pretty and abstracted to ensure a never overly literal pastiche. As for the shoes… Kawakubo has always preferred her footwear flat, of a sort which, however idiosyncratic, any wearer can run in. On this occasion, heavy white lace-up sneakers worn with wrinkled ankle socks were embellished with also white or pastel-coloured fluff bearing more than a passing resemblance to candy floss. Sweet.

A « Happy Classical » Soundtrack

The very clever show soundtrack specialist Frédéric Sanchez is responsible for the music at Comme des Garçons, and he too is given nothing more than the odd word as guidance only days before the show takes place. In this instance, Rei Kawakubo told him: « happy classical ». There is surely no more bright and breezy example of that than Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. Spliced into short, sharp excerpts it was a perfectly bizarre accompaniment to these monumental exits. Perhaps inevitably, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy brought the biggest smile to the lips of those in attendance. Because these were far from the average Sugar Plum Fairies it has to be said.

Business of Fashion – 6 mars 2016

An Empathy With Radicalism at Comme des Garçons

By Tim Blanks

Rei Kawakubo’s relationship with the punk spirit communicated by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood has helped define Comme des Garçons as the foremost challenge to fashion orthodoxy.

PARIS, France — “18th Century Punk,” was the opening gambit in Rei Kawakubo’s prepared statement about the collection she showed on Saturday. “The eighteenth century was a time of change and revolution. This is how I imagine punks would look like if they had lived in this century.”

Kawakubo has never been so explicit about her inspiration. But her relationship with the punk spirit as it was communicated by the physical and philosophical extravagance of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s clothing has been one of her most enduring and rewarding. And her empathy with their radicalism has helped define Comme des Garcons as the foremost challenge to fashion orthodoxy.

Which is why her collection today was initially something of a surprise. The 18th century had punks, the punkiest punks of all time, the lowborns, the guttersnipes, the sans culottes who herded aristos to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

But Kawakubo’s vision of 18th century punk was more of the salon variety, like the sans culottes had torn the curtains from Versailles’ windows, the fabric from the palace’s sofas, the garments from Marie Antoinette’s closets, and reconstituted them as a parody of court dress.

And that was where her idiosyncratic notion of punk insinuated itself. Courtly tropes — panniers, hoop skirts, brocades, bustles, corsets, elongated sleeves and any element of dress that interfered with normal function (because normal function was precisely what courtiers could/would not demand of their garb) — were ruthlessly dissected into extravagantly useless articulations.

And there could be no outfit more ineffective than Kawakubo’s closing look. A hillock of ruffles, six feet wide if it was an inch, edged its way cautiously down the catwalk. The 18thcentury, one hundred years of political and philosophical ferment, was stilled into stasis. Destruction of the status quo? Nothing beats it.

But Kawakubo is much too canny a social observer to fall for something that wholly obvious. When she spoke of 18th century punk, she was surely aware of the precursors to revolution, the ridiculous popinjays called Macaronis, whose extreme fashion inflamed the populace, and made it that much easier for the guillotine to begin its bloody work.

The soundtrack played decadent tinkly sounds, xylophone versions of cancans and sugar plum fairies, but that only heightened the genuinely aggressive edge to the sugary, flowery mounds of fabric that walked by. Kawakubo showed floral armour in her last men’s collection, which, at the time, seemed like a statement about peace prevailing.

Here, armour became armadillo, with jutting breastplates, scales of fabric, silhouettes extended into stegosaurus spines. Make war, not love! The clothes were carapaces. I kept thinking of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. You could go to sleep one night and wake up as a warrior, whether you wanted to or not. Julien D’Ys provided the helmets for your first battle — Macaroni wigs twisted into Weeknd or Basquiat dos.

Dazed – 6 mars 2016

Comme des Garçons imagines punk in the 18th century

We’ve had impassioned anger. We’ve had mournful tears. And now comes unbridled joy. Giddiness, even. It’s the Comme des Garçons emotional rollercoaster you want to ride repeatedly, with Rei Kawakubo setting the speed. This time around, we hurtled through history as punks somehow ended up in the 18th century.

“The eighteenth century was a time of change and revolution,” said Kawakubo in a quote sent out to journalists after the show. “This is how I imagine punks would look like if they had lived in this century.” And so the finest of rococo floral silk jacquards, brocades and damasks, the sort you might find in a Jean-François Bony painting were slashed, stitched and cut up into rebellious submission. Anna Cleveland opened and closed proceedings with a haughty stance, appropriate for these haute fabrics. Suits of armour were pitted against the most florid of fabrics. Corsetry and pannier skirt shapes were abstracted and collaged into uplifting pieces. Hair stylist Julien d’Ys fused mohawks with powder wig shapes in a burned-out jet black. Accompanied by a soundtrack of the Nutcracker suite re-rendered on a xylophone, you couldn’t help but be enamoured by Kawakubo’s show of outlandish punks, living through the age of revolutions and Enlightenment.

If the silhouettes and hair nodded at punk, so did the kinky pink vinyl that made up a cut-up teddy suit and the finale mantua-esque ruffled dress held together with bondage straps as worn by Anna Cleveland. It’s the exact shade of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s SEX boutique of 430 Kings Road back in 1974. It’s also the same shade of pink worn by the coquettish woman in Jean Honoré Fragonard’s painting The Swing. She’s being watched by a cheeky peeping tom in the bushes and so there was something salacious going on in Kawakubo’s powder pink punks too. The mini shift dresses underneath barely covered bums.

Beneath Kawakubo’s riot of florals and pompish punk, there was a bigger message to be mined. Turns out all these supremely beautiful fabrics were sourced from Lyon, once Europe’s centre of fine silk production and home to the most skilled weavers and craftsmen at historic fabric houses like Bucol and Prelle. Someone backstage even jokingly said, “This is going to be fucking expensive!” In a fashion age, where contemporary pricing and accessibility is lauded, trust contrarian Kawakubo to push back and say ‘No, thank you.’ This was Kawakubo’s clarion call perhaps to the industry to see the rebellious side of savoir-faire. Craftsmanship is often doled out to us with slow hands and quiet restraint. Here, Kawakubo utilised the crème de la crème of haute couture fabrics and pummelled them into assemblages that were boisterous and in yer’ face. How can we re-contextualise high-end quality and bring it to people’s attention? This was perhaps Kawakubo’s stroke of provocation.

As the show came to an end, a fairground-esque music played the audience’s exit out. Some scrambled up on the raised wooden catwalk to venture backstage, eager to find out what Kawakubo had to say. Others skipped outside with giant grins on their faces, as if enveloped in ebullience.

Dazed & Confused – February 26, 2016

Miuccia Prada explores the complexities of womanhood

Speaking backstage of the many roles women have to play, the designer presented a vision of strong and multifaceted femininity

Earlier this week in Milan, Alessandro Michele debuted a collection for Gucci that was based on the idea of fashion operating as a coded visual language in which history, time, politics, and identity are contained. Although he picked on references as far-reaching as the Renaissance, rock ‘n’ roll and contemporary street art, it’s not unfair to say that his signs were easy to follow – your eyes could seek out a Chinese-inspired collar, a disco-style platform boot, or a 60s velvet dress layered over a pussybow blouse. That’s not to say these garments weren’t visually arresting or technically complex, crafted with incredible, painstaking skill. But when the word “real” is spray-painted above a Gucci logo, it isn’t hard to get the message.

The same has never quite been true of Miuccia Prada’s collections – this is fashion that demands considered thought, reflection extending far into the hours, days and weeks after the final model has exited the catwalk. Yes, the signs are there and the references are familiar, but they appear somehow foreign – like the scattered, dreamlike symbols of a Giorgio di Chirico painting, which the show space’s chiaroscuro arches seemed to take inspiration from. Building on the foundations laid by January’s menswear show, last night Prada’s girls walked in sailor hats, fur coats and Hawaiian prints, decorated with keys, roses, corsets, notebooks, knitted gloves and socks and many other accoutrements besides. They were dressed, said Mrs Prada, for an adventure – rather than waiting, forlorn, for a long-lost love to return from a voyage, they were the ones doing the travelling.

“They were dressed, said Mrs Prada, for an adventure – rather than waiting, forlorn, for a long-lost love to return from a voyage, they were the ones doing the travelling”
The clue was in the music, where PJ Harvey’s grazing voice sung of having traversed “hell and high water”, and the alluring drawl of Nico name-dropped the Titanic. “Women – iconic women, strong women and poetic women”, summed up music maestro Frédéric Sanchez backstage of the soundtrack, which also featured Marilyn Monroe and Edith Piaf. From Harvey’s furry armpits, lurid green eyeshadow and expressive, handsome features, to Monroe’s archetypal blonde bombshell beauty, each of these women had radically different ways of performing their femininity and all of their interpretations were equally valid. Miuccia’s model muses may have been going on a journey, but Mrs Prada herself was the one travelling – into ideas and expectations of femininity, into the varied and complex nature of woman.

This found its footing in the prints by artist Christophe Chemin, which went from depicting what you might call A Room of One’s Own to surreal mountainous landscapes dotted with female figures. Then, the little objects in the collection – tiny diaries and charms – both decorated and commented on the way women themselves are often reduced to decoration (and made you wonder what secrets the models might have been scrawling in the gilded books). Corsets, a torturous symbol of constraint employed to force the female body into unnatural and yet desired silhouettes, were tied loosely over the top of tweedy jackets; trousers were not on the menu. Keys were worn on thick metal rings around the neck – a paradoxical, slightly kinky visual of both knowledge and imprisonment. Still, perhaps more than anything, this collection felt like a statement of strength in the feminine – these women were weather-beaten but proud, adorned with rose details which looked pretty, but came carved from steel. Backstage, Prada said succinctly that women simply have more facets than men. After all, they have to be mothers, lovers, workers, daughters and sisters – perhaps most importantly, they are supposed to be beautiful. The expectations of

Still, perhaps more than anything, this collection felt like a statement of strength in the feminine – these women were weather-beaten but proud, adorned with rose details which looked pretty, but came carved from steel. Backstage, Prada said succinctly that women simply have more facets than men. After all, they have to be mothers, lovers, workers, daughters and sisters – perhaps most importantly, they are supposed to be beautiful. The expectations of woman. Is there a more ‘Prada’ topic for a collection than that?

People and Politics at Prada – February 26, 2016

By Tim Blanks

In a tour de force, Miuccia Prada offered her own vision of a polarised world: the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor — reflecting the huge upheaval in the air in fashion, a mirror of the wider world.

MILAN, Italy — For all that it was a triumphant return to form, Miuccia Prada’s menswear show in January turned out to be a mere appetiser for the deeper, richer women’s collection she showed tonight.‎ That was partly a reflection of her own feelings: « A woman is so much more complex than a man. She has to be a mother, a lover, a worker, a beauty… » But it was the way the clothes mirrored those multi-facets — and the emotional states that accompany them — that made the show a tour de force.

Longtime collaborator Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack of female singers ran a full drenching gamut, from the fierceness of PJ Harvey, to the pain of Piaf to the chill anomie of Nico, by way of sterling accompaniment. Tears flowed backstage.

Her men were mariners, drifters. People on the move dominate the news. Prada’s women were also wanderers, stateless, “vagabonds” she called them, roaming across different times and places, with their clothing functioning as a record of their journey.

Some had tiny, padlocked books slung round their necks like pendants. Travel diaries, perhaps? “A little bit of culture,” countered Miuccia. “Secrets, symbols.” Always playing the provocateuse, she claimed she herself had never written one single word in her entire life, but it was intriguing how words were used in this collection. There were six, each of them a month in the Republican Calendar introduced during the French Revolution.

Why? Because huge upheaval is in the air in fashion, and — because fashion is a mirror of the wider world — everywhere else too. What are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, after all, but a rejection of America’s political orthodoxy? By some lights, that amounts to revolution.

On her catwalk, Mrs P. offered her own vision of a polarised world: the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor. A fur cape was duplicated seconds later in utilitarian cotton canvas. What looked like a surgical corset gripped a perfectly tailored coat. A brocade shirt was paired with a postcard skirt. Glimpses of Prada’s past were casually insinuated into the line-up, underscoring the idea that time and place are fluid.

Admittedly, a stylist’s hand could be detected in some of the more collaged looks, the combinations of high and low, but there were more than enough individual items that were rich with reference. When Mrs P. came across Berlin-based French artist Christophe Chemin, he’d coincidentally been working on a collage of the history of women. He was responsible for the paintings in a dozen styles — echoing Renaissance masters, Pop icons, movie poster art — that added an absorbing visual texture.

What I wrote after her men’s collection still stands, maybe more acutely than before. So why not just run it by you one more time? “Mrs Prada has always been a political animal, but her politics have rarely been obvious in her work (or should we call it her art?). Her faith in fashion is, however, something quite distinct. Watching her latest collection, one thought irresistibly asserted itself: clothes make memories, memories make history.”

Erotic listening with Frédéric Sanchez, 18 février 2016


The renowned illustrateur sonore presents a party playlist inspired by the secret sex ceremonies of Catherine Robbe-Grillet

Text Olivia Singer

There are few occasions as charged with secrecy as the Sadean ceremonies orchestrated by 85-year-old dominatrix Catherine Robbe-Grillet. From her Normandy château, she directs her disciples in complex interplays of sexual power; rituals designed to liberate one’s most transgressive fantasies from the confines of the imagination and make them real. The widow of esteemed writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet, there is something determinedly artistic about Catherine’s own practice: it exists outside financial exchange (she feels payment would refigure the power dynamic) and her most extreme theatrics are available to only a few acolytes. Hers is a vocation, not a profession.

“I think that the aesthetic of these ceremonies has something very cultural, very sophisticated about it,” explains renowned illustrateur sonore Frédéric Sanchez, who has designed this issue’s soundtrack in homage to these erotic occasions, inspired by Lina Mannheimer’s documentary on Catherine Robbe-Grillet’s life, The Ceremony. “To look so deeply inside yourself, inside your fantasies, is something I find very interesting. There’s something artistic about it, in a way. Something pure.”

This sadomasochistic aesthetic – of almost overwrought intensity and the complete sacrifice of power – is reflected throughout Sanchez’s selection of tracks. “It is not a sensitive sentiment,” he says. “It is over the top, but there is something poetic within it.” Opening with the fragments of the Divine Liturgy that are incorporated within Jocelyn Pook’s Masked Ball, we are invited into a sacred world of almost spiritual purity, taken through the furious aggression of Mayhem’s black metal and into the orgasmic intensity of KTL before the relief of Elysian Fields. It is a journey that mirrors the frenzied passions of the ceremonies themselves; a narrative exploration of human desire and devotion.

1. MASKED BALL (1999 Extended Mix), by Jocelyn Pook, from Flood
2. ARRIVAL OF THE TRAINER, by Stephen O’Malley, from Eternelle Idole
3. OPENING SCENE: “MEGÉRKEZTÜNK”, by Béla Bartók, from Bluebeard’s Castle
4. ILLUMINATE ELIMINATE, by Mayhem, from Ordo Ad Chao
5. THE CENTRE OF YOUR HEART, by Swans, from Children of God/World of Skin
6. QUIERO IRME, by Mecanica Popular, from ¿Qué Sucede Con El Tiempo?
7. AENIGMA MESSIAH, by Violet Poison, from Aenigma Messiah
8. SWEET SURPRISE, by Chris ‘n’ Cosey, from Sweet Surprise
9. SILVER SAND AND BOXES OF MOULD, by Helena Hauff, from Discreet Desires
10. LE VALSE DE MARIENBAD, by Francis Seyrig, from L’Année Dernière à Marienbad
11. WICKED WAY, by KTL, from KTL IV
12. LA SVEGLIA, by Alessandro Cortini, from Risveglio
13. LES ODALISQUES, by Tuxedomoon, from The Ghost Sonata
14. MVT IV: ADRIFT, by Bérangère Maximin, from Infinitesimal
15. LES AMOURS PERDUES, by Elysian Fields, from Sombre

févr. 182016

The Gentlewoman n° 13, Spring Summer 2016.

The Show

On 19 October 1989, Martin Margiela staged a radical presentation for Spring / Summer 1990 that broke from the conventional 1980s fashion show and established a bold new aesthetic for a new decade. And did Margiela know how to put on a show! Although we may never know what the man thought about it himself — his legendary refusal to be interviewed prevents that — here the show’s architects, contributors and eyewitnesses tell the story of this singular moment in the annals of fashion history. Text by Richard O’Mahony, photography by Jean-Claude Coutausse.
The Speakers
Pierre Rougier, publicist
Jenny Meirens, co-founder, Maison Martin Margiela
Inge Grognard, make-up artist
Kristina de Coninck, model
Ward Stegerhoek, hairstylist
Frédéric Sanchez, music director
Roger Tredre, journalist
Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion designer
Geert Bruloot, retailer
Linda Loppa, professor
Raf Simons, fashion designer
Nathalie Dufour, founder, ANDAM fashion award
Suzy Menkes, fashion editor
Laurence Benaïm, fashion editor
The Build-up

Pierre Rougier, press agent, Maison Martin Margiela, 1989–1992: I’d just started out on my own in 1988, and I met Martin and Jenny when I was trying to get some people to sign with me. I met Jenny first, and she asked me to meet Martin. A few days later they called and said, “We really like you but we’re not going to need a press office. If you want a job, you can come and work with us.” So I did, and, I mean, it was a very small set-up. I think it was Martin, Jenny, maybe Nina Nitsche 1. Everybody was doing a little bit of everything.

Jenny Meirens, co-founder, Maison Martin Margiela: Only three of us! People had been helping when needed, but it was an extremely small company.

Pierre Rougier: After the Autumn / Winter 1989 show in March, Martin wanted a location for a magazine shoot. An actress friend of mine directed me towards this derelict area in Paris’s 20th arrondissement. She’d done a shoot there and thought it might work for ours.

Jenny Meirens: We usually looked for places that people wouldn’t have ordinarily used. Pierre asked me if we would be interested in this wasteland, and we thought, “Why not?”

Pierre Rougier: It was a North African neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris. Martin, Jenny and I walked around the area; then they went off together to discuss things. They would always have these types of conversations in Flemish. I didn’t speak the language, so they’d go off and have their little powwow in Flemish.

Jenny Meirens: There was never anything secretive. We spoke Flemish because it was easier for us. To be honest, it was more for me — Martin wanted us to speak in French, but I thought that was ridiculous, because we’re from the same country.

Pierre Rougier: They came back and said, “We want to do a show here.” I thought it was crazy. They were like, “No, no, we’re going to do a show here,” and that was that. If Martin and Jenny wanted to do something, then it was going to happen one way or another.

1
Nina Nitsche was Martin Margiela’s design assistant for 19 years.
Jenny Meirens: The only thing Martin and I thought might be a problem was the weather. There was no protection.

Pierre Rougier: The other major issue was that it was a playground. It was pretty derelict, but an association that looked after the local kids used it. There were rules and regulations that didn’t allow them to accept money for use of the area. So Jenny and Martin had the idea that we’d take the kids on a day trip to the countryside, where various activities would be laid on for them. It was important to Martin and Jenny that we were respectful of the fact that this was the kids’ space and they were lending it to us for a few days.

Jenny Meirens: We wanted the children to stay around the area. Pierre suggested that we ask them to make the invitation.

“I always thought fashion was a bit superficial, but this show changed everything for me.” — Raf Simons
Pierre Rougier: Martin hated pretty printed invitations with calligraphy. Since we were staging the show on a kids’ playground, we thought it would be an idea to have the invitations drawn by kids, so it was like they were inviting you to their place. The next thing, then, was where do we find 500 kids to draw all these invitations? So we cut rectangular pieces of cardboard, gave them to the local schools, and in their art classes they were given the theme of a fashion show, and they drew their interpretations.

Jenny Meirens: The locals were very receptive and enthusiastic.

Pierre Rougier: And then we had to build the tents for backstage. That was another nightmare!

Jenny Meirens: I remember Pierre was very stressed, but Martin was always calm in preparing for a show. We were based on rue Réaumur in the 3rd then, and on one side of the studio all the outfits were being prepared, there were castings, people deciding on the make-up; and on the other side we were organising meetings with commercial clients.

Inge Grognard, make-up artist for Maison Martin Margiela, 1988–2010: I had known Martin since we were fashion-crazed teenagers growing up in Belgium and worked with him from the very beginning, so we had a well-established working pattern by this point. I was based in Antwerp. So a few weeks before a show Martin would phone and say, “OK, this is the collection,” and we’d talk about the ideas behind it, the feelings, the colours. And then I’d give my input. I’d also travel to Paris because I was involved in casting the models too.

Kristina de Coninck, model for Maison Martin Margiela, 1989–2005: Martin had seen some pictures I’d shot with the photographer Ronald Stoops and Inge for BAM magazine. Apparently, Martin said, “Who’s this woman? I want her for my show.” I met him in Brussels in ’89, and that March I walked in his second show, which was for Autumn / Winter. The fittings for the show were such an enjoyable experience. Martin always asked the models’ opinion on the clothes he selected for us — he wanted to make sure we felt good in them. For this show, he instructed us not to cut our hair.

Ward Stegerhoek, hairstylist for Maison Martin Margiela, 1988–1989: Hair in the late 1980s was very proper: chignons; big, bouncy curls and waves — that sort of Claudia Schiffer look. Martin said for this show it should look like anything but a hairstyle. He never really told us what he wanted, just what he didn’t want. He liked it when it looked as if the women could have put it together themselves.

Frédéric Sanchez, music director for Maison Martin Margiela, 1988–1998: This was my third show for Martin Margiela. Martin and I started work on it about two months beforehand. We’d talk about the live recordings of bands like the Velvet Underground or the Rolling Stones from the ’60s — the crowd’s screaming in the background, and the music’s cutting in and out. We were also listening to experimental artists like Meredith Monk and Annette Peacock and obscure tracks from Factory Records. Martin was very into Bowie, too — I think the video for “Life on Mars” was a big influence on the make-up for this show. The idea was to cut all the tracks short abruptly, chop them up the way Warhol cut his movies, mess with the levels to make them sound distorted or dirty, then put it all together like a collage. It was about evoking a feeling to create something poetic. When I was told the show’s location, I just thought it was very Martin. We did the first one in an old theatre, the second in a nightclub, so it was continuing this idea of using public spaces and the most lively parts of the city to present a bourgeois thing like fashion.

The Buzz

Roger Tredre, fashion correspondent, The Independent, 1989–1993: The Spring / Summer 1990 season was actually my first experience of fashion shows. I’d been sent to cover the collections because Sarah Mower, the fashion editor of The Independent at the time, was pregnant. Before that, I’d been working in Brussels on an English-language publication called The Bulletin, so I was very much aware of the Antwerp Six 2 fashion phenomenon. I think I did one of the first interviews with two of them, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee. There was confusion that Margiela was one of the six, which he wasn’t — he’d actually graduated a few years before them and had been working for a Belgian coat manufacturer, Bartsons, then worked in Italy, and then with Jean Paul Gaultier. As the Antwerp Six’s profile grew through the Golden Spindle 3 awards and following their presentation at Olympia during London Fashion Week in 1986, there was talk about this other guy who’d studied at the Royal Academy, who worked for Gaultier, and who was just as good as, if not better than the Antwerp Six.

2
The group of fashion students who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1980 and 1981 (Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten and Walter Van Beirendonck) was allegedly given the title by the British fashion press, who were unable to pronounce their names correctly.
3
Belgium’s once-thriving textile industry was foundering by the 1980s. Its government created the Golden Spindle prize in 1982 to promote new Belgian designers and textile manufacturers as part of a wider regeneration initiative
Pierre Rougier: This was the height of Jean Paul Gaultier’s fame, and M. Gaultier was very supportive of Martin and very vocal about how he considered him to be the best designer of his generation. A lot of the interest from journalists and fashion editors came because of Gaultier’s support.

Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion designer: He was my best assistant. When after a few years he wanted to leave and start his own collection, I could only be happy for him and wish him good luck. From Martin’s first show I saw immediately that he had his own voice and his own way.

Geert Bruloot, co-owner of Louis and Coccodrillo stores, Antwerp: We were one of the first boutiques to stock Martin Margiela. I think Linda Loppa was stocking him, too. Initially, it was just a shoe line. Martin came into Coccodrillo — the shoe store my partner, Eddy Michiels, and I opened in 1984 — a few months after we opened and presented his collection. Mainly shoes for women, and a lady’s shoe based on a bishop shoe.

Linda Loppa, owner of Loppa boutique, Antwerp, 1978–1991; head of fashion, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, 1981–2006: It was like a traditional man’s shoe, but made on feminine lasts. The heel looked chunky when viewed from the side but narrow from the back. The insole was higher. That’s what made you taller. Already some of the classic Margiela tropes were there. They sold well.

Geert Bruloot: He stopped the line when he went to work for Gaultier. But we stayed in touch. Fashion then was bold colours, wide shoulders; everything was extravagant, very stylised — Montana, Mugler, Lacroix, Versace. Martin came along with ripped sleeves, frayed hems, clumpy shoes — we were still talking about stilettos! After seeing Martin’s first show in 1988 I didn’t know what to think. We watched it open-mouthed. It was like I had to erase what I thought and knew about fashion. There were production problems so the first collection was never made, and it wasn’t until the second collection that we actually had clothes to sell. They didn’t do very well at the beginning. But when it did start selling, it sold really well.

Raf Simons, fashion designer: There was so much buzz about Antwerp then. I was in my fourth year studying industrial design in Genk and had to go on work placement — I knew immediately that I wanted to do it in Antwerp. I ended up interning with Walter Van Beirendonck. It was such a fascinating period in Belgium. There were so many things going on — the Antwerp Six; Belgian New Beat 4 was taking off and bringing a new sound and dress code with it; and then there was Margiela. From the moment he did his first show in Paris, he was the one. Everyone was obsessed with Martin.

Nathalie Dufour, founder, ANDAM fashion prize: Martin Margiela was awarded the inaugural ANDAM prize in June 1989. I’d seen his first two shows in Paris and then invited him to present to our committee, which included Pierre Bergé. I remember Martin telling me that the recognition of M. Bergé, and his link with Yves Saint Laurent, was very important to him — Martin loved the work of Yves Saint Laurent. He had to provide a description of his next collection, how his company was organised, a press file and such. At that time the prize money wasn’t very much but it would go towards the production of the next collection and show. We weren’t entirely sure it would work, but we felt something was happening and didn’t want to miss it.

4
New Beat originated in Belgium during the late 1980s. Characterised by a sludgy, heavy dance sound pitched at 115bpm, it also incorporated elements of Chicago house music. Clubs such as Ancienne Belgique in Brussels and Boccaccio in Ghent were at the centre of the New Beat scene.
Pierre Rougier: There were a few influential people who got what Martin was doing and were incredibly supportive. Melka Tréanton from Elle — the grande dame of French fashion, who helped to make the careers of Mugler, Montana and Gaultier — she loved Martin. i-D and The Face in London were also supportive; Annie Flanders and Ronnie Cooke at Details in New York too. It was so different from everything else going on at that time, and people were trying to put a name to it.

Suzy Menkes, fashion editor, International Herald Tribune, 1988–2014: With half those Belgian designers it was a struggle just to find out how to spell their names! It was the end of the great explosion of extravagance of the 1980s when couture shows had become incredibly elaborate. The Belgian designers, along with the Japanese — Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto — were very much counterculture to the big Paris houses.

The Day

Pierre Rougier: We finally made it to the day of the show. It was like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe we’re making it happen!” But, of course, we didn’t have enough power, and we had to go around the neighbourhood knocking on doors asking to run cables and cords from the locals’ houses so that we could plug in the hairdryers, lighting and all that. It was fucking crazy, though it didn’t seem so at the time.

Inge Grognard: I had a small team of assistants. It’s not like now, where there’s 20 or 30. I didn’t have a big make-up room, just little places where we could put one or two assistants in with two models. There were so many models! And the spaces were really dark. It was chaotic.

Jenny Meirens: Backstage really was a mess. The children had been hanging out there all day, eating the food. But it was a very cheery and relaxed atmosphere.

Ward Stegerhoek: We did try to keep them out at first. In the end, we just gave up. The backstage area was this concrete, dusty space, which was a little cold, so we had some heaters in there. And a few plastic fold-up tables and some cheap chairs. We had music like Alice Bag playing quite loud to get everyone in this punky mood. There was a little red wine too.

Inge Grognard: I’d been thinking about when you have those little accidents when doing make-up, like when you pull a sweater over your head and it smears mascara across your eyelids. We put everything on a contrasting white base. The clothes had a lot of white and plastic involved, so we mixed in some roughness with the mascara. We liked it when it wasn’t totally perfect or finished.

Ward Stegerhoek: We used lots of hairspray to get the hair all matted and stiff, then started pinning it up and ended up with this rough texture.

Kristina de Coninck: Martin took one look at my wig — they used hairpieces on the models with shorter hair — and said, “It’s not wild enough.” So he took the hairpiece and ran it along the dusty ground.

Ward Stegerhoek: Martin was quite hands-on before the show, pulling at the straps on the clothes, adjusting the shoulder, fixing the hair before they went on the runway.

The Hour

Pierre Rougier: The idea that staging a show so far out of town might be an inconvenience never entered our minds.

Roger Tredre: I knew Paris well, and the location looked like a typical Paris street with terraced houses but with this space that looked like it might have been bombed in the war. The whole place was floodlit, with lots of people milling around.

Linda Loppa: There was a group of us from Antwerp — boutique owners, fashion students from the academy. We were like Margiela groupies! I should set the record straight, though: Martin was never a student of mine. But we did know each other from the Antwerp scene. Mary Prijot 5 was the head of the academy when he attended. Anyway, we weren’t surprised by the neighbourhood. Us Belgians were quite used to the rougher lifestyle — Antwerp wasn’t so luxurious and elegant then. I mean, sometimes the Royal Academy didn’t even have electricity. When we arrived in the 20th there was a bit of confusion about the precise venue — I’m not sure I even had an invitation. Of course, later on Martin’s invitations became highly collectible. So we just followed the other Belgians we recognised from their clothes — “Follow that one in black; that must be the way!” There was a cafe on the corner of a street nearby, and we gathered there drinking, talking. It was like a party.

5
Mary Prijot established the prestigious fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1963. Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela all studied under her tutelage.
Pierre Rougier: We never anticipated that all these people would turn up. Martin never let us hector people into coming. The attitude was, you can turn up, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. We were totally unprepared for the number that did.

Geert Bruloot: The narrow streets were filled with African people, Indian people, children, fashion editors, press and buyers. Martin and Jenny invited people from the neighbourhood too. They were a big part of the event.

Roger Tredre: There was no sense of trepidation. Maybe for someone like Suzy, chauffeur-driven, it was a bit strange. I recall being struck by the incongruity of these ladies in fur coats stepping over rough ground and slumming it a bit. It was quite amusing.

Suzy Menkes: I’m pretty certain I was taking the Métro in those days. I didn’t think we were going to the ends of the earth for this show, or that anything unpleasant might happen to us out in the 20th. Absolutely not.

Roger Tredre: It wasn’t clear where we were supposed to sit — were there even seats? Where were the models coming from? There were some children around, and locals began gathering to see what was happening.

The Scrum

Pierre Rougier: There was no seating plan. It was first come, first served. This was always the case; there was never a guest list like at other shows. But as all these people kept showing up, it became overwhelming.

Jenny Meirens: People were pushing and shouting that they weren’t being treated particularly well, didn’t have a seat… blah, blah. It was terrible. We didn’t have the budget for VIP treatment.

Geert Bruloot: Jenny was almost standing on the wall, shouting and directing people. It was quite hysterical.

Pierre Rougier: People were scaling the walls of the site to get in!

Raf Simons: I ended up gatecrashing with Walter Van Beirendonck, who was holding a presentation in Paris. Martin’s was the first fashion show I ever attended. I had the perception of them as big productions and quite glamorous — here, there wasn’t even a floor! It was like a trashy backyard.

Pierre Rougier: By the time the show started, we didn’t know who was an editor or who was a neighbour. We were like, “Let all the kids sit down!” and they did so along the runway, otherwise they wouldn’t have seen anything. They were so excited, screeching and laughing.

Roger Tredre: And then at some point the show just started.

17 Minutes

Frédéric Sanchez: There was a drumbeat on a loop from a live recording of the Buzzcocks that sounded very raw. I also had this recording of people playing music on the streets of different cities around the world — a tramp using some boxes as percussion and singing “Strangers in the Night”. I think “Roadrunner” by the Sex Pistols was in there too. There were concerns about rain in the lead-up to the show, so I used this moment from Woodstock where the audience are chanting, “No rain! No rain!” There were probably 20 tracks used on the soundtrack, cut, repeated — using 10 seconds of one, 20 of another, mashed up together.

Raf Simons: As soon as the models started to come out, you knew something special was going to happen. They looked so angelic and alien.

Roger Tredre: They didn’t move like regular models. They stumbled because they were picking their way across uneven ground.

Ward Stegerhoek: Martin didn’t want the models to walk like professional ones, with their hips swaying and all that, and he’d spend quite some time with the professional ones before a show, instructing them. He wanted them to walk more like boys.

Kristina de Coninck: Martin just wanted us to be ourselves.

Geert Bruloot: There was a lot of black and white around the eyes, and these dark lips. The clothes were a continuation of the ideas expressed in the previous two seasons — the elongated sleeves; the narrow, rolled piqué shoulders; wide, tailored trousers; frayed and unfinished seams and hems. They even reused the exact same Tabi boots 6 that had been used in the Autumn / Winter 1989 show. But then there was this burst of volume from the waist, with canvas coats and skirts belted around it, worn over wide canvas trousers, and large canvas bags worn like panniers. It had a bit of a Victorian look to it.

6
The Tabi boot is Margiela’s interpretation of the split Japanese tabi sock, which separates the big toe from the others and is worn with traditional thonged footwear.
Linda Loppa: The colours were mostly white and nude and looked so fresh in the midst of the graffitied and dilapidated surroundings. Tops were made from Franprix 7 plastic carrier bags — you know the French supermarket? I thought, Why a carrier bag? There were tops made from papier mâché, with metal breastplates… some models had bare breasts.

7
Franprix is a French grocery chain founded in 1958 by Jean Baud. It has 860 outlets throughout the country.
Kristina de Coninck: I was wearing a little white cotton vest top, a wide skirt, and underneath were large canvas saddlebags on either hip to create a hoop skirt. Each of the models wore the number 90 in some way — either sewn on to a piece of paper, stitched into the garment, drawn with a marker on the heel of a boot…

Suzy Menkes: It was a strange kind of bleak fairyland. The light cast an iridescent sheen on these plastic covers, and yet at the same time they were so banal — dry-cleaning bags.

Linda Loppa: The dry-cleaning bags were transformed into tailored coats, jackets, tunics and dresses, belted with ribbons, straps and metal fasteners. These were worn on top of oversized sheer slips with elegant drapery and pleating that looked quite disordered from a distance. But up close they were sublime. We loved it! I immediately bought one of those long canvas skirts.

“We always wanted to be free, to be spontaneous, and not respond to the impositions of the fashion world.” — Jenny Meirens
Suzy Menkes: The dresses were actually surprisingly pretty. They were very floaty, semi-sheer, chiffon, worn like a milkmaid’s but with no frills. They almost floated like a cloud on the body.

Jenny Meirens: There was never just one inspiration or precise idea in a Margiela collection. Martin would pull many different things together. Sometimes they would repeat over the different seasons.

Kristina de Coninck: The children couldn’t sit still. They were fascinated by what was happening. We would smile down at them as we walked by; they’d smile back. We were all laughing. And then at some point they joined in and paraded alongside the models.

Frédéric Sanchez: The music for the finale switched to classical music, harpsichord pieces by Rameau and Purcell.

Geert Bruloot: All the models and the backstage staff came out for the finale wearing the now-iconic blousons blanche atelier coats 8. The models had confetti in their pockets and threw it into the air.

8
The blouson blanche is a white work coat worn by the petites mains in the ateliers of haute couture houses. Margiela adopted it as a uniform for the company’s employees.
Jenny Meirens: One of the models’ boyfriends began to lift some of the children onto the models’ shoulders.

Raf Simons: I was so struck by everything I was seeing that I started to cry. I felt so embarrassed. I was like, Oh God, look at the ground, look at the ground, everyone’s going to see you’re crying — like, How stupid to be crying at a fashion show. Then I looked around, and half the audience was crying.

Geert Bruloot: It was all over in 17 minutes. We went backstage to see Martin and Jenny afterwards. It was in the days when Martin still stayed around after the show.

Pierre Rougier: Oh my God, it was such a happy, happy night. There was a huge sense of relief that we pulled it off. Martin was very happy.

Jenny Meirens: We felt very happy afterwards, enjoying the moment, drinking champagne from plastic cups.

Roger Tredre: I remember at the end thinking, This will be great copy!

The Reviews

Jenny Meirens: We were shocked that the press wasn’t very positive.

Pierre Rougier: Le Monde printed a scathing review.

Laurence Benaïm, fashion critic, Le Monde, 1986–2001: I thought it was like a parody of Comme des Garçons in the early 1980s. A little bit too postural. I don’t expect a fashion designer to give me a lesson about what life is or what it should be. The clothes were perfectly cut but I didn’t like the miserablist scenography. And I still hate drinking bad wine from cheap glasses!

Pierre Rougier: Libération was critical of how inappropriate it was to show designer fashion in a poor part of the city, saying it was exploitation of the neighbourhood and its residents. I read the article and thought, “Really? Is that what you got out of that show?”

Geert Bruloot: I think the industry loved it. We bought some pieces from it for Louis — the oversized slips with the plastic overlay, the canvas hip bags. For sure we bought the plastic hoods, as I still have one in my personal archive.

Roger Tredre: We trotted out of the 20th and felt we’d seen something that was special in ways we couldn’t immediately define. That a young designer staged his show in such an unusual location and a lot of high-powered fashion editors actually turned up made this show unique.

Suzy Menkes: I was definitely fascinated and intrigued, and I certainly thought it was something new.

Roger Tredre: Whether the choice of venue had anything to do with reflecting the disintegration of the Berlin Wall 9, as some publications alluded to, I’m not sure. But the timing…

9
Radical political change in East Germany in 1989 led to the removal of the blockade of West Germany on 9 November 1989. The wall’s official demolition didn’t begin until the summer of 1990 and wasn’t completed until 1992.
Jenny Meirens: Oh, no, no, no. That wasn’t in our minds at all. Honestly, I think that people perceive it differently than we meant it. It’s less heavy than people think.

The photojournalist Jean-Claude Coutausse shot these images for Libération, the French daily newspaper founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge July. The accompanying article, headlined “La mode il y a des endroits pour ça”, was highly critical of the show.

The Legacy

Pierre Rougier: Well, it definitely ignited the cult of Margiela. The subsequent shows were just as weird, complicated and stressful to pull off. The sense that we had to outdo the last show with the next was never discussed. I’m sure Martin probably felt it, but he never said if he did.

Jean Paul Gaultier: I think that his way of staging shows and keeping out of the public eye was a reaction to what he’d seen while working for me. I was part of the first generation of designers to be mediatised, and I think that Martin wanted the exact opposite.

Roger Tredre: Right from the beginning, his approach to fashion was in line with the very pressing issue of sustainability, the need to recycle and the urgency of rethinking the whole system. Where to do that? Anywhere but the heart of the system.

Suzy Menkes: He was the beginning of making over clothes, of using existing garments and transforming them into something else. He was very far ahead of this trend.

Linda Loppa: It also showed that you could create a beautiful collection and put on a spectacular show with very little money. You can make garments that are elegant but rough and instinctive. You can have your friends around you to help and support. Interesting models can be found on the street. A simple statement of intent: “Come on! Do it!”

Raf Simons: As a student I always thought that fashion was a bit superficial, all glitz and glamour, but this show changed everything for me. I walked out of it and I thought, That’s what I’m going to do. That show is the reason I became a fashion designer.

Jenny Meirens: We always wanted to be free, to be able to do what we wanted, to be spontaneous, to not respond to the impositions of the fashion world. We wanted to make a simple show, but for us this one was no more important than any other.

févr. 022016

The Business of Fashion – 1er février 2016

Severity and Lushness
No longer couture’s best-kept secret, Bouchra Jarrar is still flying too far under the radar.

By Tim Blanks.

PARIS, France — Bouchra Jarrar compared her show to creating a world, with everything counting in equal amounts to make the mood. The soundtrack, for instance, Jarrar herself reading Marcel Proust over a sound tapestry by Frederic Sanchez that throbbed with the bass line from Bowie’s Subterraneans and hints of Prince. “Just as important as the collection,” the designer insisted. It certainly offered striking amplification.
Maybe there was something of Prince in a little gold waistcoat over a lace jabot, or the gold-buttoned, gold-braided drummer boy jacket (like Manet’s famous Fifer). Perhaps the Purple One even contributed a little to the ambisextrous nature of the collection. But Jarrar has always walked a tantalising razor’s edge between severity and lushness. You could read that as masculine and feminine if you so desired. This was her most glamorous expression of the duality to date. The tailoring was as acute as ever, but the textures were amped all the way up, with the dull glimmer of gold jacquardwrapped in shaggiest badger, coyote and curly lamb and a redingote shaped from a mass of feathers.
There was a mutter of paganism in the couture shows, with Schiaparelli’s harvest maidens and Valentino’s high priestesses. Jarrar’s take was intriguing, matching the shaggy wantonness to the precision of Napoleonic peacoats, jackets and gold-piped navy trousers. Duality again. It was more disciplined but just as convincing in an oversized coat in silver-shot houndstooth paired with an elegant column of creamy silk velvet. Now that was Proustian, truly the stuff of memories.

Libération – 26 Janvier 2016

Sons sur Mesure
Par Sabrina Champenois

La créatrice Bouchra Jarrar présente ce mardi sa nouvelle collection, sur une musique conçue par Frédéric Sanchez. Le duo décrypte une collaboration fondée sur la complicité.

Bouchra Jarrar et Frédéric Sanchez travaillent ensemble depuis cinq ans. Elle, roseau perfectionniste à la précision du geste et la sobriété notoires, tient depuis 2010 les rênes de sa propre maison de couture, après avoir travaillé auprès de Nicolas Ghesquière chez Balanciaga, puis chez Christian Lacroix. Elle présente sa collection haute couture printemps-été ce mardi à Paris. Lui, grand calme à rire homérique, est entré en piste en 1988, par un coup d’essai-coup de maître : la bande-son du premier défilé de Martin Margiela. Autodidacte passionné par la musique depuis l’enfance, il fait désormais partie du club très sélect des «designers de sons» de référence, ceux dont le travail contribue à l’intention d’un créateur plus qu’il ne l’illustre, et participe à son écho. A son actif, entre autres, des collaborations avec Miuccia Prada, Rei Kawakubo, Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander, Jean Paul Gaultier, Martine Sitbon, Helmut Lang…

Ce jour de début janvier où on les rencontre, Bouchra Jarrar est en pull anthracite sur pantalon et mocassins noirs. Frédéric Sanchez, en col roulé noir sur pantalon gris et bottines noires. Cette harmonie symétrique résulte-t-elle d’une consultation ? On opte plutôt pour l’heureuse coïncidence, leur communauté d’esprit étant telle que leurs enveloppes suivent.

Désolée pour ce retard, il y avait ce «colis suspect», dans le métro… Suivez-vous l’actualité ?
Frédéric Sanchez : Ça fait partie des choses dont on parle, avec Bouchra. Notre conversation se nourrit de tout, en continu.

Bouchra Jarrar : Absolument. On écoute tous les deux beaucoup la radio, on se reconnaît dans des choses, ça alimente cet échange. Par exemple, au moment des attentats de novembre, j’ai personnellement eu beaucoup de mal à revenir à la création de vêtements, je ne me suis jamais sentie aussi petite, tant le problème de l’humanité et des civilisations est au cœur de ce qu’on est. Maintenant, ça va, j’ai retrouvé la conviction que réfléchir, créer de la beauté, est nécessaire, aujourd’hui plus que jamais. C’est comme si les choses prenaient encore plus de sens. Et la création, c’est une réelle échappatoire, une respiration.

F.S. : Dans le même temps, notre travail fonctionne en interaction avec l’extérieur.

Le contexte actuel, tendu, peut-il s’avérer paradoxalement stimulant ?
B.J. : Quelque part, oui. Ça fait avancer ce que l’on fait et ce que l’on est.

F.S. : Oui, on est un peu des combattants ! Moi, par exemple, ça ne me fait pas peur, ce qui se passe actuellement, je ne vais pas partir sur une île déserte… Au contraire, même. Là, ça fait plusieurs années que je vis entre Paris et la Normandie, et j’ai presque envie de revenir complètement à Paris, parce que j’ai envie de faire beaucoup de choses ici. Tout d’un coup, je me rends compte qu’il ne faut pas lâcher. Il ne s’agit pas de militer mais de participer, de ne pas être dans une bulle, d’être conscient.

BJ. : Etre conscient qu’on est des faiseurs, des fabricants. C’est ce que disait l’autre jour à la radio Raphaël Glucksmann, à propos du projet de loi sur la déchéance de la nationalité : «Avec une telle loi, on toucherait profondément à ce que l’on est. Il ne faut pas. Il faut faire.»

F.S. : Sachant que Bouchra et moi sommes des enfants d’immigrés, à des époques et pour des motifs différents.

La mode fait partie de la frivolité dénoncée par les extrémistes religieux…
B.J. : En vue des prochains défilés, la Fédération [de la couture du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode, ndlr] a envoyé des mails qui stipulaient la nécessité d’avoir des vigiles à l’entrée des défilés. On va bien sûr le faire.

F.S. : Comme c’est le cas pour les spectacles. Depuis le 13 Novembre, il faut vivre avec ça, sans pour autant se terrer chez soi. Ce qui m’inquiète plus, c’est ce que ce climat pourrait nous mener à faire, se censurer notamment.

Votre échange est très fluide, l’un poursuit la phrase de l’autre…
F.S. : C’est une histoire qui a commencé il y a cinq ans. Bouchra a voulu me rencontrer, et ce jour-là, je crois qu’elle a prononcé le mot «révolution». Ça a fait tilt, j’ai pensé à la chanson de Brigitte Fontaine, où elle ne cesse de le dire, où elle dit des slogans de Mai 68 sur de la musique classique.

B.J. : C’était à la fois sérieux et amusant, on a commencé à se raconter des histoires, à se connaître. Avec Frédéric, j’ai le sentiment de ne jamais être dans l’effort.

F.S. : Le travail avec Bouchra prolonge celui que je fais avec d’autres gens. Je ne travaille d’ailleurs pas avec des marques, mes dialogues sont toujours très personnels : je procède avec un créateur de mode comme je le ferais avec un metteur en scène ou un autre artiste. C’est à chaque fois une discussion pérenne, qui dure. Avec Bouchra, on a commencé par Brigitte Fontaine, on a enchaîné avec Christophe, Holy Motors de Leos Carax, ça a été nos bases. A partir de là, on est partis dans quelque chose d’extrêmement personnel, on a commencé par mélanger des choses, Iggy Pop, Barbara, Francis Lai… On est passés de la révolution à l’évolution.

Comment collaborez-vous, concrètement ?
B.J. : Frédéric, désormais, c’est quelqu’un à qui je pense quand je travaille, il m’inspire. On ne se parle pas forcément tous les jours mais il y a des connexions, comme lorsqu’on a pensé en même temps à Agnès Varda, qu’on avait entendue chez Pascale Clark, sur France Inter.

F.S. : J’ai alors ressorti le film Jane B. par Agnès V. ; à la même époque, Jane Birkin jouait la Fausse Suivante aux Amandiers, ça a mené à Mozart… Ce sont des tiroirs qu’on ouvre, ça crée une arborescence.

B.J. : On ne fonctionne jamais directement par thèmes, d’après les vêtements. Je lui parle plutôt d’émotions et de sensations.

Ça suppose, pour vous Frédéric, d’être une sorte d’éponge ?
F.S. : Ah oui, super-éponge. Ça prend surtout du temps, ce qui est un peu anachronique avec l’époque dans laquelle on vit. C’est sensoriel, c’est comme mélanger des parfums… Très mental, en fait.

B.J. : On en est très conscients : on veut créer ça, un espace, un moment.

F.S. : Et il faut que ça se combine avec le lieu où se passe le défilé.

Les défilés Bouchra Jarrar sont comme des parenthèses, loin de toute hystérie…
B.J. : On crée un écrin, et on essaie de créer un bon et beau moment. La mode, ce n’est pas que du stress. C’est une proposition.

Sachant qu’un défilé dure en moyenne sept minutes…
F.S. : Quand j’ai commencé, un défilé durait en moyenne quarante minutes et ça pouvait aller jusqu’à une heure, avec 250 tenues, les mannequins qui arrivaient par quinze…

B.J. : Imagine quand la collection était moche…

F.S. : Quand on a commencé avec Martin Margiela, au Café de la Gare, on a fait tout de suite beaucoup plus court, concentré, avec une musique cohérente du début à la fin. C’était dans la lignée de ce qu’avaient proposé les créateurs japonais comme Rei Kawakubo.

Comment faites-vous avec les gens qui parlent peu, ou une autre langue ?
F.S. : Rei Kawakubo, par exemple, arrive juste avant le défilé et on ne parle pas la même langue. Du coup, elle me montre beaucoup les vêtements. Moi, j’ai beaucoup réfléchi le mois précédent à toutes les histoires qu’on pourrait raconter, et une journée avant le défilé, j’édite. Je travaille avec deux assistants, qui sont spécialement en charge de la partie technique, comme les droits, ou les recherches.

Votre dernière grande émotion sonore ?
F.S. : Moi, ce serait plutôt une sensation : en ce moment, j’ai une émotion étrange en voyant défiler la route très très rapidement, et plus je remonte vers le ciel, plus ça devient calme… Ça n’est pas un son à proprement parler mais ça m’évoque de faire des sons de l’ordre du rêve. En ce moment, je travaille beaucoup des sons au synthétiseur, qui deviennent des voix, des chœurs.

B.J. : En Normandie, Frédéric a un lieu fascinant, une boîte avec plein de machines, que je ne saurais même pas nommer, une usine à gaz hypercontrôlée, avec plein de fils connectés à des tas de trucs…

F.S. : Je travaille avec des synthétiseurs modulaires, des filtres, les logiciels de l’Ircam. Le son me passionne depuis l’âge de 6 ans, quand ma sœur a rapporté de Londres un disque, Abbey Road des Beatles, que je me suis mis à écouter comme un dingue. Surtout la face B, quasiment dénuée de blanc, donc c’est quasiment une histoire qui est racontée du début à la fin. Ensuite, j’ai toujours cherché ça : des musiques, des musiciens qui racontent des histoires. J’ai trouvé ça dans la musique progressive, Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, Brian Eno, mais aussi dans la musique classique et l’opéra. Plus tard, je me suis demandé, pourquoi cette obsession du son, et du son qui permet d’être simultanément dans des espaces différents. Je me suis rendu compte que ça renvoyait à mon grand-père, qui ne pouvait pas rentrer en Espagne et qui écoutait beaucoup la radio espagnole. Ça lui permettait d’être à la fois ici et là-bas. Ce côté déterritorialisation mentale m’a beaucoup marqué.

B.J. : Pour moi, la musique est à la fois importante et inutile. Je peux passer des journées dans le silence, qui est ma musique naturelle. C’est un silence rempli, qui me berce. Dans le même temps, je suis une douce obsessionnelle et quand je suis amoureuse d’un son ou d’une musique, je vais l’écouter inlassablement, sans me fatiguer, pendant toute une période.

Par exemple, j’ai découvert Dominique A il y a six ans, je ne l’ai pas écouté pendant quatre ans, et il y a quelque temps, je l’ai réentendu à la radio avec un bonheur inouï. Du coup, je suis allée à la Fnac acheter ou racheter tous ses albums, et voilà : en ce moment, Dominique A me berce. Je suis aussi très sensible aux voix. Dernièrement, c’est celle de mon neveu qui m’a éblouie : il récitait un poème d’Artaud, de sa petite voix cassée, on aurait dit Gainsbourg jeune… A l’inverse, je ne supporte pas les voix aiguës, qui correspondent généralement à des gens aigus en tout, dans leur personnalité, leur allure, leur attitude.

F.S. : J’ai besoin d’écouter dans tout ce que je fais. Par exemple, si je nage, j’ai besoin d’entendre l’eau, je ne pourrais pas mettre des écouteurs.

B.J. : On parle très souvent de sons, avec Frédéric. Le battement du cœur, le bruit de la respiration, le souffle… La vie, quoi.

AnOther Mag – 19 Janvier 2016


Decoding the Military Precision of Jil Sander

Text Olivia Singer Photography Martina Ferrara

Jil Sander is a house renowned for austerity, for its stoic dedication to exacting minimalism and a spirit that verges on the brusque. During the noughties, Raf Simons’ tenure at the house saw it err slightly (and wonderfully) towards his own, subversive Belgian romance but, since it came back under Sanders’ own hand in 2012 – and now, that of her successor Rodolfo Paglialunga – the brand has determinedly returned to its Germanic origins. This season, Paglialunga chose to investigate a history of military dress, from medieval leatherwork simultaneously sinister and sexy, to jumpers with the bomber sleeves of 1930s aviation. It was a modern reworking of pieces designed to protect – a theme that we saw explored, albeit in a different spirit – at Craig Green, and one certainly analogous to Mrs Prada’s feeling « deeply serious and deeply human and trying to understand mankind’s difficulties » in her A/W16 collection. The world is currently undergoing a particularly confused period and, as Alexander Fury noted in his Prada show review, « it’s foolish to think fashion exists in an isolated cocoon, or an ivory tower. » Jil Sander’s offering showed just how true that is.

« Clothes have become so extravagant in the last few seasons, » explained Another Man’s fashion director Ellie Grace Cumming, who styled the show. « We were looking to create a wardrobe of clean, modern, Jil Sander staples for a man to wear, but also to be protected in, reflecting the uncertain climate not only in fashion but also in the larger world. » And, whether it was the cross-body straps that echoed bandoliers, the silhouette of a 1940s police coat transformed into a khaki cape, the black leather coats that looked something like a doctor’s uniform turned terrifying or the combination of it all, that sense of security was brilliantly present. « Jil Sander has such clear codes that it can almost become a uniform – and I suppose that’s why we looked at military, as a way of exploring that feeling, » continued Cumming – but not only was there a distinct atmosphere of militia, but equally there was sex. 

Frederic Sanchez’ imposing soundtrack of Coil, Broken English Club and Ministry was evocative of an industrial 80s nightclub – and the flushed young boys, fresh-faced and innocent with slightly tousled hair and pouting pink mouths were exactly the type one would hope to find there. Supple leather trousers were nothing if not S&M; the safety-pins adorning scarves similarly so. The tactility of the fabrics – the 80s Japanese tailoring nylon bonded to shiny, shiny leather, the plasticky pouffes that formed jumper sleeves, the jacquards printed with blown-up maps of an urban city – was breathtakingly desirable. It was a battalion of beautiful boys wearing the uniform of a modern man; as Cummings succinctly surmised, it was « the army within the city that you live in. » 

Business of Fashion – 18 janvier 2016

A Soaring Return to Form for Prada
Watching Miuccia Prada’s latest menswear collection, one thought irresistibly asserted itself: clothes make memories, memories make history.

MILAN, Italy — Prada menswear of late has been a little desultory. Rich in ideas maybe, but erring on the side of dreary in the actual delivery. All that changed tonight. Miuccia herself reeled off a litany of positives after her show: “Drama, passion, heroism, romanticism…” The new men’s collection had all that and more.

No Prada presentation ever wants for a complex, enthralling backstory. This one was particularly rich. The first looks instantly evoked sailors in their little hats, navy jackets, capes and peacoats. Waxed indigo denims looked like clothes for the working tar, and there were shapely officers’ coats for the men above deck. Fabulous shirt prints seemed to depict gods and monsters, the kind of mythic beings that sailors would spin yarns about when they returned from their travels. On closer examination, one tableau featured the likes of Pasolini, Che Guevara, Nina Simone and Sigmund Freud wrestling with classical figures. Each print was created by young French artist Christophe Chemin. His titles were part of the images (Che, Sigmund et al were named The Important Ones).

This blend of historical and contemporary was the collection’s cornerstone. Mrs P said the set was intended to evoke a town square, where people of all backgrounds could mingle. It also looked a little like a courtroom, which fitted with the invitation, designed as a ledger. In that inquisitional vein, by the time models appeared with detached collars and cuffs, I was perfectly happy to think of them as defrocked priests, or at least someone who’d lost their faith. Which, under the strangely romantic influence of the show and its haunting soundtrack, led to Arthur Rimbaud, which led to taking to the high seas to escape an impossible situation at home. From which, it was a short step to the current migrant crisis in Europe. And Mrs Prada was indeed talking about the challenges that confront our humanity in a much more direct way than she would usually, while maybe acknowledging the ineffectuality of fashion in any way other than to divert us.

All of this would simply be a huge red herring if it wasn’t for the fact that the clothes themselves were so winning. Historicism updated could spawn a very convincing cape in denim or tweed, or a Napoleonic smock with a botanical print (though it might just have been rotting fruit). There were those beautiful shirts, some wonderful elongated tailoring (the shearling collars again giving something Napoleonic, which would be the heroism that Mrs Prada spoke of). And there was womenswear, a sampling of the pre-Fall collection, with reconfigured sailors’ coats and long, lean dresses, some backless, all paired with diamond-patterned woollen tights, which suggested the girls waiting back home for the fleet to come in. On Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue might have been singing « Where the Wild Roses Grow » especially for them.

Mrs Prada has always been a political animal, but her politics have rarely been obvious in her work (or should we call it her art?). Her faith in fashion is, however, something quite distinct. Watching her latest collection, one thought irresistibly asserted itself: clothes make memories, memories make history.

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http://www.vogue.fr/culture/a-ecouter/diaporama/la-playlist-de-frederic-sanchez/10976

PORT MAGAZINE 14 Janvier 2013

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http://www.port-magazine.com

David Hellqvist: What’s your relationship like with Jil Sander?

Frédéric Sanchez: We’ve worked together for 20 years so there is a long history between us.

David: What do you think about when making a soundtrack?

Frédéric: That it should fit with the brand. My music works with a minimal aesthetic, it sits alongside the story of the collection. For this sesaon we looked at David Bowie’s come back; he’s got an album out soon and there’s the V&A expo in March. He’s 66 years and making a come back, it’s incredible. For me, that was the starting point and the inspiration.

David: But it isn’t Bowie singing!

Frédéric: No, Bowie made me think of Scott Walker [The Walker Brothers], he’s also an amazing artist, and in the end I used his vocals. I remember when Bowie did his Outside record and Scott released the Tilt album at the same time. There is something similar about their voices. Scott Walker is often used for films but not for fashion – maybe they think [his music] is too sad? I thought it was a good idea to use him, so I proposed it to Jil and she liked it.

David: What did you mix it with?

Frédéric: A minimal aesthetic and electronic sound, with lots of bass. I like it to have a rounded sound, and a pure feeling. It adds quality, like the soundsystem in a beautiful car…

David: What’s the process behind developing a show soundtrack?

Frédéric: I don’t really need to see the clothes. With Jill, I know her and the style really well. It’s like a conversation; it starts with us just talking, and the soundtrack comes from that. It’s an easy process, each season is a development – it’s like an ongoing story. We could put each soundtrack after the other and they would make sense.

David: Did you work with Raf Simons at Jil Sander as well?

Frédéric: No, I didn’t – I had a seven year break from the label! It’s great to be back, it feels like I’m home. I started working with Jil in 1991. We met through her Art Director at the time, he brought me in and it’s been ongoing ever since.

David: What is about the brand and Jil’s style that you like?

Frédéric: It’s very similar to what I like myself. Even 20 years ago when we met, I felt a connection to her clothes. I understand what she does.

David: What pieces in the AW13 collection did you like?

Frédéric: The suits and coats are amazing – the quality is great!

David: What should a good soundtrack do?

Frédéric: It should tell you about the designer, and who he or she is. The worst thing is a bad collection that has a great soundtrack. I prefer if they hate everything!

David: What shows do you work on?

Frédéric: I do quite a few, and the ones I work with I’ve done for many years: I work with Jil Sander, Prada and Calvin Klein in Milan and Ann Demulemeester in Paris. I also work with quite a few womenswear designers.

Prada homme automne hiver 2013/ 2014

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