You make your own dyes. What kinds of dyes and pigments did you use for Fall/Winter 2016?
Every season I work with a biochemical laboratory in Italy that can make any color or finish imaginable. The color palette for this season is quite tame and reserved, so we had to use very basic colors. We developed this incredible paint with grated copper, wax, and animal fat. Then the raw leather was treated: the grain and pores fully opened and rough at first, then gradually smoothed over. The finish is natural, but still rich. This collection is the quietest one in terms of dying, because we wanted to focus on the chemical and biological components. There was so much animal protein in the dyes that there were swarms of flies around the vats outside.
Dyeing and shoemaking seem really messy and chaotic. Now that you have started making clothing, which is a classically beautiful craft, how has your process changed?
My work has many layers, and each layer requires a certain skill set. This is where my relationship with the Italian artisans comes in. I am probably the only multi-disciplinary person at the studio, everyone else is a single-skilled professional. When it comes to dyeing leather and garments, this is something I do with my team, but we have a designated pattern-cutter and seamstress. It’s separated into distinct roles. Therefore, my process has not changed. I still get messy.
If you didn’t make shoes and clothes, what would you make?
Before, I couldn’t imagine myself making anything else. For the past couple years, however, I am interested in making large-scale objects. It’s still in an embryonic stage because it takes a while to develop the idea for a sculpture, but it will come. I get to experiment with it a little bit for now with the presentations we do in Paris and window displays.
How big would these objects be?
It seems like a lot of designers are branching out into different disciplines, or coming into fashion as outsiders, becoming self-taught designers.
Being self-taught comes from a need to learn a skill in order to progress with your vision. This is how I learned to do my job. A true luxury for me is when the experience becomes an innovative curriculum.
How did you teach yourself?
Books and practice. Shoemaking books are merely manuals, so the real training comes from practice.