The talented Belgian designer – who has successively shaped the destinies of Rochas, Nina Ricci and Theory – is the president of this year’s PV Awards, a chance to discover his relationship to the fabrics and leathers that constitute the beating heart of his creative process…
You are about to preside over the awards that reflect the resourcefulness of their producers. How important are these materials in your work?
They are at very foundation of my creative process and – more generally – that of fashion itself. Today’s designers are very lucky. They have at their disposal materials of an incredible richness and diversity, created with techniques that weren’t around yesterday. Changes in fashion and fabrics act in synergy to bring forward new possibilities, in terms of design and use.
What are your favourite fabrics?
I have a kind of instinctive feel that guides me to more noble and natural fibres – silks, linen, wool and cashmere blends. I am also sensitive to finishings with controlled handles, which lend either a suppleness or rigidity.
Which fabrics have you never used that you dream of discovering?
One of the really exciting things about this business is exploring new directions, especially in terms of fabrics that you might know but haven’t yet used. For me this was the case in my last collections with supple velvets and stretch fabrics. Discovering them really woke up and nourished my creativity.
Everyone is talking a lot about fabric innovation. Do you think that’s the key to the designs of tomorrow?
In my work, I am mostly looking for a feeling of quality. This can mean ultra-technical innovations or a perfect mastery of more traditional fibres. In either case, it is really about the same thing – that intersection of raw materials and individual skill and artistry.
You are soon chairing the jury of the 10th PV Awards. What will be your criteria in making your selection?
A lot of different values have to be taken into account. We talk about vision and risk-taking among designers but those things are just as present among manufacturers. The art of fabric or leather, the search for excellence in innovation and the perfection of a classic all contribute to the emergence of stronger fashions. These players are moving forward with a boldness and talent that we are going to observe, gauge and respect.
These prizes are at the heart of the Première Vision system, of which you are a faithful participant. What are you looking for at the show?
I never miss an edition of the show. It’s a major moment. I meet my partners in person, I discover a whole slew of proposals. As a general rule, I attend the show to nourish my ideas, but I make my selections later on.
> Prizes are awarded in the presence of the jury, Wednesday 19 September at 5:30 pm in the PV Perspectives Forum, Première Vision Fabrics, Hall 5. Cocktail at 6:30 pm, Hall 6 entry.