Demna Gvasalia opens up to Julie Gilhart about spirituality and the magic moment of vetements.
JULIE GILHART: You’re really like a moving freight train that everybody wants to see and wear and be a part of.
DEMNA GVASALIA: After Margiela, I worked for Louis Vuitton for two years, and it was all great insight into how things work. But it feels really good to do my own thing, and I’m having so much fun now working on the new collection. It doesn’t feel like work.
JG: Do you see yourself as being a big business in the future? Or do you see yourself as being more of an independent?
DG: Being independent has negative and positive sides. It’s quite difficult to survive and grow, but being part of a group, there’s a group mentality and commercial aspects that can be dangerous for the creative process. Knowing you have to make a pre-collection every three months and need new ideas can kill the passion for what you do. So from this point of view, I think it’s much better to be independent.
I always look to the example of Comme des Garçons for what we want to do. Steady but slow growth while doing things their own way. Things happen very quickly in the framework of this Information Age, and what we try to do is find our own instruments to deal with this.
JG: People buy your clothes because they want to be a part of what you’re trying to do. How does that feel?
DG: It’s amazing; it’s the best compliment ever. That’s why we do it—to see someone wear it. We had Linda Dresner, an iconic buyer from the States, come into the showroom. Even though I thought the spirit of this selection was quite youthful, the first thing she did was put on this oversized bomber jacket, and it was so perfect on her, she insisted on keeping it on.
JG: You just described the designer jackpot. There’s all these young people you’re inspiring who want to wear your clothes—and, conversely, you have someone who’s seen everything; she’s not young, though young in spirit, and she also looks great in your clothes. That’s pretty amazing.
DG: For me, it was a real discovery. I was so happy that I was there to see her try it on, and I thought, “This is really how it has to be.”
JG: You have family members who are involved in your business, right?
DG: We have a group of young people who studied or worked with me before; I’m very lucky to have the team that we have now. There are no working hours and we’re just having fun all the time. Then there’s my brother. He deals with everything: commercial art, sales, strategy. Everything I can’t do, he does, so it’s a good balance.
JG: Your brother actually gave me a spiritual book. . .
DG: Oh my goodness. I told him to stop with this—
JG: I loved it! Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
DG: Yes, I’m very spiritual, but I have my own kind of approach to religion and everything. I grew up in a family that was quite religious and then we had to find our own ways, but yeah, I do believe in religion.
JG: I think everyone needs some perspective. You must need a break, too.
DG: Definitely. We really learned something from French people, so the whole month of August we’re just closed. Everybody’s recharging their batteries before the craziness starts again. I know it sounds crazy for people in the US to have four weeks off in August—it’s a true luxury in Europe.
JG: No, actually, I think you should hold to that. I think it’s important. Especially if you’re in the creative business, you need time to regenerate.
DG: Yes, to take some distance and do nothing, especially nothing that concerns fashion. You don’t see people dressed nicely, it’s a blank space to recharge and change my tune.
JG: Well, thank you so much.
DG: Thank you. It’s definitely also about what it takes to be true to yourself and do what you enjoy doing, the way you enjoy doing it. For the first time in many years, I really feel creatively fulfilled and happy with doing fashion. It’s a priceless time.
Photography: Kacper Kasprzyk for NeueJournal
Model: Angie Sherbourne at Heartbreak Management
Light Director: Christian Bragg
Grooming and Makeup: Khela at Call My Agent
Production: Philippine Michel for Total Management