Luc Druez, luxury fibres Design - 03 December 2014
As a textile designer, Luc Druez has brilliantly managed to swerve away from the world of high fashion to the realm of architecture, where his technical fibres are continuing to win over the biggest names in the business. He has spent the last year working for Fendi, to be followed by the Hermès stores in Taiwan and Moscow in 2015. Which is all he will be doing in the year ahead.
It seems as though you have always worked with the big house names?
Yes. From my very early days, I was already working with the world of Haute Couture: dyeing, printing,... I did everything with my own hands. This was a purely Walloon product intended for the top brands, but it was only ever used for the clothes division, the "studio" side of things. Since then, I have moved on to focus on design and architecture, which have very different needs. So I am using other materials and other fibres, as I am more focused on the spatial layout and the relation of the fabric with the light.
What caused you to move on from one sector to different sector?
It is not the work that I was getting fed up with, but rather the build-up of a series of factors, especially business-wise: the ageing world of high fashion was being swept by change and the ready-to-wear fashion, even the luxury segment, had less time and tighter budgets. I had to find a different way forward and tap into a different clientele.
How did this transition work out?
Quite naturally. Architecture uses different amounts of materials, so I felt this would be an interesting sector for me to tap into. My customers were constantly searching for products that are both creative and technical, something I was able to provide on a tailor-made basis. As I gained the trust of customers, I was being commissioned to handle increasingly larger projects, all the way up to the point of large-scale partnerships, such as the one I have in place with Fendi. I am involved in all their new store openings around the world, from airport corners to their biggest flagship stores. Every point of sale needs to be decked out in the same materials, the same colours in observance of the same codes. The whole setting is assiduously investigated, as it is deemed to represent the brand's identity, which is quite a responsibility. These kinds of contracts involve a considerable amount of work, but I am also tasked with updating more modest outlets, such as the Dior Jewellery shops. These collaborations have enabled me to meet very creative people and to step inside their world. Exciting discoveries that often go hand in hand with fairly considerable financial resources, which only adds to the attraction.
What are the main differences between these sectors?
If you are working on a fashion show, you know that six months down the line, you will hate - or at least disavow - everything you have just done. Architecture does not have this infernal seasonal cycle... every decision has been properly considered. You are involved in a whole, it is like being an instrument in an orchestra, something I find very exhilarating.
Which also requires you to set aside your ego...
Yes, but that is no more than normal when you are working as a link in a chain. I am the material supplier, who brings two dimensions, the plan. Next, a stylist, an architect, a photographer or a sculptor will come in to add a third dimension to finish the product. That is the paradox of textiles, it is destined to be transformed and it is the person who transforms it who will be responsible for the final result.
So you are constantly at risk of not really appreciating the finished product?
It is part of the game. Sometimes, I do not really know what happens to my fabrics. They are shipped to the other side of the world and all I get are a few pictures by mail. That is the limitation of my position as a purveyor of materials, I need to maintain a degree of humility. Thankfully the work also has its fair share of nice surprises. Things were a lot harsher when I was still working in the fashion industry. On one occasion, I was sent extremely precise orders, down to the millimetre... only to find my work being torn up because Jean-Paul Gaultier came up with a different idea at the last minute. He had had me sweating for hours on end, but his creative spirit ended up getting the upper hand. In all, a very frustrating experience, even though I am sure he was right to do what he did: it was a great catwalk.
Written by Maxime Fischer.
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