In our tradition to feature designers from around the world who are making waves and reimagining how trends are set, we went on conducting an interview with Christophe Guillarmé, a French designer whose collections and genius have traveled the world back and forth, leaving a powerful print on the world of fashion and design. Our first encounter with Christophe was when our brand ambassadors in France attended the launch of Christophe’s latest collection, Miss Polly. Now why Miss Polly you may ask?
“I was obsessed with the late 60’s movie “Who are you Polly Maggoo” realized by photographer William Klein. It’s a story about a love affair involving a model. Like William, who has no trouble unleashing his creative genius,
I just wanted to create some unbridled girly silhouettes made for a contemporary Barbarella. For this collection, apart from the girl in the movie, I was also thinking of the famous and fabulous model Twiggy, her great style and unique baby face with that catchy cat eye make-up.”
Being a designer is no easy task. Staying on top of the latest trends, being aware of the most miniscule details and turning an imaginary ideals into a piece of fabric that communicates all those feelings you want to channel, well, that requires a lot of work, and Christophe Guillarmé is sparing no effort in that regard!
In fashion, what matters most is timing according to Christophe. Every minute, every second counts. And what usually end up happening is that you get inspired not every Monday or every first of the month, but it comes at random times, and if you don’t act quick enough to transform that inspiration into a palpable collection, you might miss on the opportunity since new seasons, new fashion trends and new styles take place and may turn your inspiration into an obsolete concept. It’s a whole new framework that you have to learn to work within.
“6 months is not enough to turn all my ideas into collections and stunning dresses. Sometimes I have to give up on a certain concept; sometimes I have to postpone it to the next season. But the secret is to always be positive and never get frustrated with these hurdles.”
Christophe Guillarmé works hard, but the cliché schedule of successful people doesn’t hold when it comes to Christophe. This is something we need to understand and apply in our lives, otherwise blindly following what we read and hear about successful people’s work ethic and patterns may not always hold true for us.
You don’t have to wake up at 6 am in order to be successful, but you have to have a work pattern that makes you most productive, and for Christophe, it’s waking up late and staying up past bed time.
“My day never starts really early as I’m more of an evening person. I ‘m in my workspace until 9 or 10 pm every day. Before 6pm I’m taking care of the business and marketing side of my brand, which takes most of the hustle, but afterwards I let my imagination run wild since the office is quieter and my phone rings less than 2000 times an hour! This is my creative period of the day. This is when magic happens.”
Yes, magic, and not the kind of complex magic that many designers want you to believe is behind their stunning fashion collections. For Christophe Guillarmé, less is more, following on the footsteps of Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
“I’m trying to say more in using less artifice, to create a silhouette that looks simply beyond.” Simplicity also defines Christophe’s future plans for his brand.
“I will first expand my Women’s line to more casual daily looks and accessories.”
But if you’re doing well already, you may just as well take your work to the next level and dive into new fields. Diversification is key in any enterprise, and Christophe understands this well.
“I’m dreaming of designing shoes! Maybe in the near future as my successful luggage line has been making waves for the past 2 years, so it’s just a matter of time before proposals start flowing in. But one thing is for sure, I’m not ready yet to enter menswear. Frankly, designing for women is way more fun, more creative and edgy.”
Christophe Guillarmé is a visionary, someone whose young age didn’t pose a problem and never was an obstacle in his quest for success. Why? Because when you love what you do, when you are passionate about your work, nothing can stop you.
“I am a workaholic. I love what I do! I don’t like fashion because of what people think it is: It’s not all red carpets, openings, flashy guests and flowing champagne. Fashion is a tough job, and if you are not motivated to wake up every morning and work hard to make things happen, then you’re not cut out for this. But as much stress as this job has, I steam off by having a great time with friends as well; I love laughing and spending quality time with people around me. In general, I’m someone who doesn’t take thinks too seriously, I just love living and creating beautiful things along the way.
Whether it is my personal or professional life, I really don’t think too much, I do my best, I try to express myself via my creations. If it works, I continue, If not, then I still don’t give up.”
Looking back at Christophe’s path, we understand that circumstances sometimes play a role in determining where you will get in life. That random encounter, that unforeseen opportunity, that miraculous event, the list goes on, but in the case of Christophe, it was all about regulation and the state of the market.
“I started my work independently at the beginning of the year 2000, when the fashion world was not as regulated as today. At that time we could make some mistakes, there was a kind of tolerance and craziness in creation. Today with the crisis hitting all sectors hard, it is becoming competitive and ruthless! What I mean is, I was lucky to start at a young age because I had plenty of time to experience, learn, fail and experiment. Today, the fashion world is not as forgiving, and the slightest mistake can get you in trouble.”
To conclude, it would be insane to miss on the chance to ask Christophe about his insights on the Middle Eastern fashion market, and whether he has some secret plans to set foot in the nearby malls in Dubai or Doha.
“I think that despite the globalization, the middle-eastern fashion is keeping its identity well. I mean those vivid colors and intricate embroideries, the magical mix between traditional and contemporary designs; this is what makes this part of the world so charming, so exotic and so rich in fashion concepts. It is also worth noting that Middle Eastern customers are aware of the latest trends in the market. I remark that my costumers in Doha and Dubai for example are super edgy and ask for the latest trends! They have a wonderful grasp of the market and know well what is hot in China or what’s popular in Europe. My fascination with Middle Eastern fashion is the reason why my designs are mixing oriental touches with occidental shapes. But beyond fabrics and embroideries, my creations, wherever they are worn or displayed, have a message behind them:
Tolerance, glamour and fun. This is fashion for me.”