Jean Paul Gaultier runway at Paris Fashion Week in 1996.
Season: 8 Episode: 48
Title: Paris Edition
Original Airdate: 4/15/96
Appearances: Ann Demeulemeester, Emma Balfour, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jerry Hall, Julien D'Ys, Jean Touitou
DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: PARIS FASHION WEEK
A couple of things make this segment extra-special for me: the fact that we have a rare interview with the incomparable Belgian genius Ann Demeulemeester, and that hearing model Emma Balfour speak so eloquently about her sent me into a weird fact-finding mission that led to the discovery that Emma became a poet! It’s not every day you hear from a model who has been compared to Raymond Carver. Seriously.
The F/W 1996 Ann D collection is pretty special. She’s such a master and cuts a mean, lean silhouette with this fantastically somber Antwerpian gravitas, yet there are off-kilter details like asymmetrical sleeves or meandering plackets that deliver tension in this wonderful contrapposto — it's the sort of bound agony you see in Greek sculpture from the Hellenistic period. It's great. This is what Demeulemeester says about the process: “When I start the collections, most of the time I start with a certain movement. So the movement of this collection is that I tried to work on a twisted body.” What? Can you just think about that? It's so insane to think that her point of inspiration is how fabric behaves on a screwy form. It shouldn’t be surprising, since she can command textile to do whatever she wants, but honestly, could she make the terrain any more challenging?
There’s a ton of excellent stuff in this season as a whole. HoS fave Jean Paul Gaultier is going through a sculptural period and is heavily into moving cubes and spheres. There’s this great moment with Jerry Hall, who remarks that she’s modeling as a madwoman who doesn’t realize she’s mad and sounds totally unhinged as she's describing it. From Rifat Ozbek to Romeo Gigli, there are mixed prints, velvet, skinny maxi skirts, sweaters, bright evening suiting, tartan ball gowns and fur stoles; on the beauty side, this is the season of the top-knot, fashion Mohawk, glittery face makeup that appears to have been cried into smears, and dark bars painted over eyes in place of liner.
+ WATCH MODELS AT PARIS FASHION WEEK
DEMOCRATIZING STYLE: HAIR TIPS FROM STYLIST JULIEN D'YS
Shalom Harlow and Amber Valletta visit hairstylist Juline D'Ys in Paris in 1996.
OK, I had never heard of Julien D’Ys so I didn’t have an appreciation for how wonderful this segment is and just thought it was cool that he invited Shalom and Amber over for some hair tips. Apparently, at the time of this taping, Julien is “one of the most revered hair masters working today.” Julien is the guy who, since 2005, has been doing all the head-dressing at the Costume Institute Exhibition at the Met; he’s also been collaborating with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons for over two decades, and you know how particular (and brilliant) Rei is. Most recently, you may have seen Julien’s flawless pin curls on Katy Perry’s Old Hollywood transformation for the June 2011 issue of Vanity Fair, but more importantly, Julien is also a photographer, set designer and a painter.
Last year, Julien had his first painting exhibition, and it’s so rad that we get to see all of his canvases from 1996 in his apartment while he teaches Amber how to use tinfoil and molding clay to curl her hair. He then puts wigs on Shalom and shows us how a cut-up piece of panty hose can act like SPANX for her real hair so that everything lies flat under the hair piece. All very cool and 100% applicable to life, but I just really liked the bit where he talked about his paintings because it’s so clear how passionately he feels about being a fine artist. Plus, the part where his blowdryer (and probably all of our camera lights) blows a fuse in his crappy New York apartment is super-relatable as well. That’s the magic of House of Style: You could go from knowing nothing to wanting to hang out with a person based on footage that was shot 16 years ago.
+ WATCH JULIEN D'YS' STUDIO
DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: A.P.C.'S JEAN TOUITOU'S FASHION PHILOSOPHY
A.P.C. designer Jean Touitou in 1996.
On the topic of people I want to hang out with, A.P.C designer Jean Touitou is definitely one of them. Even if he sort of terrifies me. This reminds me so much of the Franco Moschino interview in that he’s so clever, quick and controversial that you can never tell if he’s mocking or goading you (“Cynicism is a humor that suits me” he’s said in a T magazine profile). It’s been eons since the artisanal jeans movement stormed the gate (denimgate?), so I’ll go ahead and presume you all know the brand A.P.C. (atelier de production et de creation). It started in Paris in 1986, it’s a line that makes jeans that you have to work very hard to break in, and "A.P.C." is the universally agreed-upon, male, fashblogger-approved response to, "What jeans are you wearing?"
All of this, obviously, is by design. Touitou has pursued music from the beginning as well and is just as unorthodox in that arena in terms of how he likes to do business. He releases his own music and creates compilations with like-minded friends. According to T, he even built a recording studio at A.P.C. HQ, a haven for employees who want to record with their bands, and where parts of the score for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox were recorded. I’m going to do that annoying thing where I just pull out some responses and cut-and-paste them, not (only) because I’m lazy, but because his quotes are great unmolested.
On A.P.C.’s iterative processes:
“Here we make the fabric, we design, manufacture, we mail order. It’s invisible work and it takes a long time to do.”
On fashion shows:
“The fashion show for me is purely a spectacular nonsense. It’s all related to how much hype you get at that period of time. Everybody’s going to think you’re fabulous or not and it’s not based on your work and your clothes.”
On releasing music:
“I decided to produce music when I had the means to do so. We decided to do a first album and to be totally independent. I’m sorry, but I do not want to talk to the music industry.”
“Everybody wants to be a star very quickly, and so anybody will do a label and have his name on it. So I didn’t want no name at all at the beginning….The first collection was just the label with the name, with the date actually. The first one was called ‘Winter ’87.’”
On tawdry clothes:
“I don’t like the clothes too loudly sexy because sex, when it’s too loud, is not sex anymore. It’s an image of sex, and you don’t want the image to want sex.”
+ WATCH A.P.C.