Interview with Christophe Guillarmé
Christophe Guillarme has a panache for the dramatics. After launching his first collection as a young designer in 1998, he quickly rose to the French fashion scene with his signature “Glam Rock” style: colorful, embellished and intricately constructed pieces. His latest collection, inspired by the dance sphere, included classic silhouettes in black and white, adorned and exaggerated with his distinguishing techniques. His designs can be seen on countless red carpet events and at the annual esteemed Cannes Film Festival; worn by French actresses and international celebrities alike. With the recent launch of his first fragrance, Le Tapis Rouge, inspired by the lavish allure of the red carpet, Guillarme is expanding his already global brand.
FS: Where did you draw inspiration from for your latest Fall/Winter 2011/2012 collection?
CG: My inspiration came from the dance universe: a timeless black and white spirit, focusing on the lead dancer. It is close to the muse from the Darren Aronofsky movie, Black Swan.
FS: When creating a collection, do you pay special attention to the woman you’re designing for?
CG: Yes, but it comes a bit unconsciously as I virtually know her since the time I start working for her.
FS: Your pieces are often very ornate and heavily embellished yet maintain a good sense of wearability. How important is it to you that you create beautiful and practical garments?
CG: I must admit I’ve been more provocative in the past, but I was always concerned with wearability as I’m not a fan of fashion that never goes off the catwalk! Now, I’m focusing on a seductive approach to my garments that everyone can wear.
FS: You began your brand in 1998 at a young age. Do you have any advice for young prospective designers who want to launch into the industry?
CG: To speak as many foreign languages as possible because fashion is really an international business. And, also, to stay focused on their work; talent is nothing without it.
FS: How has your collaborations with choreographer, Mia Frye enhanced your design aesthetic?
CG: Mia Frye is a dancer and choreographer involved in many movies such as The 5th Element from Luc Besson or The Black Dalhia from Bian De Palma. Movement is always a priority to her and myself as well.
FS: We’ve come to expect colorful, intricately sewn and adorned pieces from you. Are these
“Glam Rock” elements signatures of your brand?
CG: You are 100 percent right. I’m not afraid to use vivid colours and crazy beading to push styling a bit further.
FS: Since 2003, you’ve been heavily involved in the renowned Cannes Film Festival each year. Tell us a little bit more about your participation at the festival.
CG: It’s kind of a love story I have with Cannes. I’m originally from Antibes, which is very close to Cannes. I have some clear images from the red carpet as a child, when I was a spectator. Now, I sometimes attend the red carpet with gorgeous celebrity clients wearing my designs.
FS: Throughout your career, your designs have been seen on the red carpet by many celebrities and high-profile individuals. How does it feel to see your designs in the spotlight?
CG: There is so much work that goes into each garment attending a red carpet and you can never be sure the celebrity won’t change her mind even at the last second. So, I must admit I think I deserve those little moments of glory whenever they happen!
FS: You launched your first fragrance, Le Tapis Rouge, last year. Why did you choose to expand your brand into that market?
CG: Actually, the nose of the product, , came to me and offered to create my first fragrance because my styles inspired him. I had an idea of what I wanted when creating my first perfume. I have an obsession with red fruits. I was planning to use cranberry but fell in love with black currant, which turned into the base of my fragrance along with roses and patchouli as well. It’s a fresh fruity mixed oriental perfume, perfect for anyone who wants to know how it feels to attend a red carpet event. Perfume is a brand new market for me. I’m learning everyday but it fits my expectations. It is already sold in Galeries Lafayette, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
FS: In one sentence, what is the philosophy of Christophe Guillarme designs?
CG: The philosophy I try to transfer to my brand is the Dolce Vita mentality: enjoy life and always have the feeling of walking a red carpet.
FS: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
CG: I recently had the opportunity to start a collaboration under my name for luggage with exclusive prints I designed. I’m having so much fun designing this line. The license is from Platinium, they carry Ines de La fressange, Morabito, Torrent and, now, me!
By Juliet De Rose