INTERVIEW WITH SARAH ANDELMAN
When did you start going to shows? Tell also us briefly about how you started your fashion career.
I was still studying History of Art at Ecole du Louvre when we visited the space at 213 Rue Saint-Honoré for the first time, I was just about 20 years old. But then, it went all very fast, and I remember being in London Fashion Week to shows very quickly, it was part of the buying process, and being absolutely amazed by shows from designers like Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen. Then in Paris, to be at Comme des Garçons shows was just a dream! But to be honest, as long as I love fashion shows for the event, the music, the atmosphere, I also always loved going to a showroom and discover the entire collection, being able to touch the clothes, etc.
Do you remember which season's shows of Chalayan, McQueen and Comme you went? Did you start buying those brands for Colette immediately?
We started to go to shows from March 1997 I think, and yes, we had these brands very quickly.
What is your very first memory on buying young designer's collection for yourself and for Colette? Do you still have and wear it/them?
One is BLESS, this duo, and I remember their brushes with long hairs and wigs which was at Margiela show. I was immediately touched by the beauty of the object even if it was completely useless. That was a perfect example of the freedom we had, and the hope to meet customers who would understand this artistic vision. I still own this Bless piece… We had a lot of Jeremy Scott, when he was still doing fashion shows in Paris, but I gave all my collection to the MAD (Arts decorative museum in Paris). And the magazines like Purple, Self Service, I-D, the Face we had from the beginning.
At Colette, which designers sold well from her/his early career? Do you know the reason why popular from the beginning?
I think of Jeremy Scott, immediately very popular because of his energy and the messages of his collection. It was pure creativity. Same for Raf Simons, or Rodarte. We worked obviously with Virgil Abloh from the very beginning, before Off-White and it was also an immediate reaction and the start of this merging between streetwear and fashion.
Tell us about designers who you discovered in his/her early career. How great were they from the beginning?
In addition to above, I think of Proenza Schouler, Julien David, OAMC, Sacai, Thom Browne… They had a vision from the beginning, they knew where they wanted to be.
When you see fashion designs at the show or showroom, what is the first thing that you see and check?
I love to be surprised, to see something I have never seen before, but also something wearable. I admire a complete collection which makes sense, where everything is part of something bigger. I think it’s important when the story is clear and obvious, and relative to our history.
It's very interesting that you mentioned "something wearable". I guess you appreciate both wearable and unwearable. Please tell us more about this.
That’s true that’s very subjective… Well, even if people would notice you, something you can wear in the subway ;-)
At the showrooms, what are the important elements when you consider carrying those brands? Do you try samples on a lot?
No, I didn’t try, no time. I like to judge samples on hangers even if I know that’s not ideal, but I always thought that was clients first approach. Of course sometimes the showroom has models trying everything and that’s much better. For me it’s important to find a balance between creativity, wearability, differentiation from other brands, unity, quality…
I remember that you mixed every designers' collections into one space which was Colette. When you compare established designers and upcoming ones, stores usually put them apart but you didn't. What was the reason behind that action?
When we opened, we had no racks at all, only clothes on mannequins where we mix brands together, like fashion pages used to be in magazines before it was only total look. We would do this styling work every week. And we wanted our customers to be attracted for the item itself, not the brand behind.
Any upcoming designers that you are obsessed with at the moment?
I love Emily Bode, Pyer Moss, KidSuper, Coperni…
Tell us about LVMH PRIZE where you find new talents.
LVMH Prize has a scouts team and I think they look EVERYWHERE to find new talents, it’s important to not focus on the main cities we know. Even if that’s always impressive the quantity of great designers from NYC and London. Between editors and buyers, they share all the info on designers they find interesting. The rule is that the brand must have done 3 collections already so it’s too early to watch fashion students for example, they need to already have a business.
Many of young designer collections that you mentioned will be "archive" in the future. Please tell us your thought on this archive phenomena in last few years. Are there any designer/brand that you keep collecting personally?
I keep Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, TAO, Noir… some Nike… some graphic t-shirts… I have all my Original Fake tees that I’ll keep forever ;-) I give a lot too… I guess it’s a question of the emotion value you give to the pieces… They represent a moment, a day in your life… I’m not able to buy second-hand, vintage pieces, I never did. I only buy new, to give from scratch my own history to the pieces…
When you say "archive", people imagine designers who have runway shows every season. However is there any other fashion genre that you think it will be treated as "archive" in the future? And why?
Collaborations obviously, because they’re limited.
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