France’s réponse to Britain’s NEWGEN, Andam whittles down its contestants in the running for the 2011 competition with 200,000 Euros on offer and priceless international status.
This prestigious fashion award has crowned previous winners Gareth Pugh, Giles Deacon and, most recently, Hakaan Yildirim. This year’s nominees are an international set, some already household names, consisting of Adam Kimmel, Anthony Vaccarello, Matthew Harding and Levi Palmer of Matthew Harding, Jeremy Laing, Yiqing Yin and Iku Furudate and Kaito Hori of Commuun. It’s a list as impressive as the award itself – a prize of 200,000 Euros, courtesy of the National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts along with a year-long mentorship by former CEO of Chloé, Ralph Toledano. This edition’s renowned jury includes, among others, Emmanuelle Alt, Hilary Alexander, Sarah Lerfel and Pierre Berge who will meet tomorrow (28th June) to choose the winner.
i-D Online caught up with the six finalists…
How do you incorporate couture elements into your clothes? What are you working to achieve with this approach? Couture can be a lot of things. If we think of couture as clothes that take hours to find new and innovative ways of construction and finishing, then I would say my work has a ‘couture’ approach but in the end, I need to be able to produce my clothes.
It is rare to see as concise a vision as yours in the work of a relatively new designer, can you explain that aesthetic? I can’t explain it! I will be presenting my third collection in October but I worked two years at Fendi before that and studied for five years at La Cambre before that.
What inspires your aesthetic – functionality and fun? Yes, I love to have a bit of fun with my collections. At the same time, they are about function. Each season, I am designing for my contemporaries. I try to tell a story with my collections – a story that I think they might appreciate. In the end, my goal is to create a wearable product that is truly one of a kind.
What is the secret to a good suit? The secret to a good suit is the cut, the fabric, and the shape of the lapel. Put together properly, a good suit should fit well, be elegant yet understated, and of course, comfortable!
What has surprised you most about working in the fashion industry? I’m constantly surprised and grateful for people’s support of and interest in my work.
What are you thinking about when you approach the balance of function and beauty in your clothes? The beauty of clothing lies in their function and in the process of their making. Beauty and function don’t sit on opposite sides of a scale, they are entwined at the pivotal point from which the balance of a garment hangs. Does it work? Will it fit? Can it live? If so, then the garment has beauty. Of course a primary function of fashion is that it be fashionable -novel – for a moment – which rarely has much to do with working, fitting, living or, therefore, with beauty. In fact, the fashionable often has more to do with the ugly, for we turn from it in disgust once our eyes have had a season to settle on it. The balance, I find, is between function and novelty, or beauty and ugliness.
What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? A dry salt lake desert in Tunisia, I imagined the moon to be like this. Pure and chaotic at the same time. I had such a feeling of smallness in front of it. It was very reassuring. A good loneliness.
How do you think being a woman, designing for other women, informs and influences your work? I have a specific body consciousness that male designers don’t have. Designing for women is an instinctive and sensitive process. I feel the design rather than think it. I would like to think that the result carries a specific sense of sensuality and grace that women relate to. My designs are intended for real women who possess and live their sexuality, spirited and creative women who create their own identity, not for products or fantasies.
How does working together as a duo inform your work? We work almost by contrast, feminine and masculine, draping and tailoring, couture and sports, nature and urban… that helps us to define our balance in aesthetics.
How would you define femininity? A strong, independent woman who is free and knows who she is at the same time.
How does architecture inform your clothes? We are inspired by sculptors such as Richard Serra. The sculptural work that inspires us has a link to architecture, so it is more how those artists are informed by architecture that may affect fashion, for us, but in a subtle way.
Fashion today is about personal freedom. Do you agree? For us, fashion has always been about personal freedom. Both of us studied at Central Saint Martins and it is one of the most freeing experiences, being part of that college. We think that at any opportunity, designers and consumers should think in a free way. This freedom has allowed us to develop our brand concept which is to create a focused, well thought out product of men’s and women’s shirts and woven tops. By restricting the garments that we produce, we actually have more freedom in a lot of ways. We are free to really develop and refine our ideas and not be too distracted by things that are not directly important to the label at these early stages.