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Where do you start with the design process when developing a new collection?

And why that first? Two things begin the process. One, I start where I left off with a concept from the previous collection, as the first step in a new evolution, or from a curiosity that I haven’t explored the idea enough.

And, simultaneously, I go back to certain images because they stimulate me in some way—right now, I’m working on concepts and images as varied as Shogun armor to eighteenth-century French chinoiserie reinterpreted, to modern canvases by Adolph Gottlieb. Then there are some solemn images that I always look at.

As I begin my research, I’m thinking constantly, and at the same time choosing fabrics and trying to come up with a base color for the collection that is not colorful. I don’t feel comfortable working in color so I have to find a color that’s a non-color. Or I’ll attack a color like a bright pink or a chartreuse and try to calm it down among all the gray and taupe and black. After the fabrics are ordered, I literally encase myself in a room with images on boards and rough sketches and I begin.

The first step of having a toile made is very difficult for me because it’s as if it’s a symbolic piece and I have to choose it wisely. Once I see the toile, then I start running with the ideas, sketching, draping, working with the fabric. Often, I will make a painting, have a digital image taken of it, and transfer the screened image onto cloth. I’ll paint another canvas and then put the cloth, the chiffon or something, the transparency, on top of that painting.

We’ve done this now every season for a couple of years. Last season I just used an illustration of a planet, which we magnified, but this season the paintings have provided the springboard into the new work, which is very vaporous, mysterious smokelike images. Do you consider fashion an art form? And why? Those two words are interrelated.

Lastly

Fashion is not art: It’s the couturier who brings the art to the fashion, and it’s done through the matching of techniques and the vocabulary coming out of the atelier. So when they say fashion is not art, it’s rightly said, but it’s the couturier who is the artist. And if you look at the work of Vionnet or Grès or Balenciaga or Courrèges, you undoubtedly cannot say that this is not art. Then there’s a whole list of names you can mention that clearly suggests that fashion is not art.

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