Through The Folds of Fashion: A Session With Designer Christian Lacroix

I am indescribably honored and humbled to have had the one and only Mr. Christian Lacroix answer a few questions for me about… well… so many things; some of it pertains to fashion. He is one of the most emblematic designers of the last 2 decades of the 20th century and he was the last of a breed to inhabit the world of Haute Couture. Here is a gentleman who has made an indelible mark within the milieu of fashion.

His latest major collaboration was with the house of Schiaparelli and he continues to design for the world of the stage, whether it is ballet or opera or anything in between. The man evokes exuberance through his love of color, his humor and his native Arles. His “like” shall not walk amongst us during this lifetime and so take a few minutes and learn something about the gentleman known as CHRISTIAN LACROIX!

I personally say MERCI BEAUCOUP… MILLE FOIS. I can’t express my gratitude and respect for him for giving his time with this project, let alone for enriching everyone of us who has a love for fashion. Here, in his own words… | Jeffrey Felner 

 

Christian Lacroix

 

FCJL | What is the most treasured possession in your wardrobe?

CL: None… Or my father’s Forties war black market fabrics, dandy looks I used to wear myself in the mid Sixties. Or humble, old vintage holidays and home things carefully patched, mended, and old-fashioned darned.  

FCJL | What is your most sterling trait and what trait do you treasure most in your friendships?

CL: I do ignore any sterling trait of mine… With friends I do treasure mutual understanding, same sense of humor. I haven’t many, but a handful is enough.   

FCJL | What is your bliss?

CL: Being off-duty in a beautiful landscape.  

FCJL | What is your guilty secret?

CL: So many! And a secret is a secret… 

FCJL | Where is your ideal home?

CL: High view of the sea and islands from a contemporary house; on hills and mountains somewhere in the Mediterranean areas with a rustic, simple Roman abbey or palazzo; on New York or Paris roofs from a high penthouse with a roof garden.  

FCJL | If you could not be a designer/retailer/etc. what would you be?

CL: A monk or hermit sketching; reading; creating collages, paintings, and ceramics. 

FCJL | What is on your bedside table right now?

CL: A wooden church chandelier, books, Dyptique Vetiver fragrance, sunglasses, silver skull, and an abstract iron sculpture. 

FCJL | What do you wear to bed?

CL: Charvet old-style pajamas when on a trip and at home: vintage Djellabahs in in the summer and old joggings in the winter… or nothing.  

FCJL | What, if any, book are you reading now or have last read?

CL: My friend Patrick Mauriés “Fragment d’Une Forêt.” I just finished Claude Arnaud “Proust Contre Cocteau” and I’m still reading my idol Philippe Jullian “Diary 1940/1950.”  

FCJL | What’s your advice to the “newcomer”?

CL: “Ce que le public te reproche cultive-le, c’est toi” (Cocteau) “Il y a plus de larmes versées sur les prières exaucées que sur celles qui ne le sont pas” (Truman Capote or Sainte Thérèse d’Avila) And from me: beware of your deepest soul’s and guts’ wishes because they’ll happen. And of course work, work, work, and don’t waste any second or drop. Life is short and the chance is only once. 

FCJL | Who or what is your inspiration/style icon?

CL: All these socialites, models, and icons from 40s/50s/60s/70s VOGUE or Harper’s Bazaar. Chic stopped with the 80s…

FCJL | What is the best advice you ever received?

CL: “Put some ice in your stomach” and “fashion is just a sex affair” – both from the late Hebe Dorsey (a dragon and goddess journalist of The Herald Tribune from 60s/80s, the Suzy Menkes of the New York Times). 

 

Christian Lacroix

 

FCJL | In 3 words or less, describe the current state of fashion.

CL: Schizophrenic: one on runways only for magazines and the other the unknown label really worn.

FCJL | If you were a retailer, would you wear your own designs or shop in your own store ? Or where would you shop?

CL: Of course, as a retailer.

FCJL | If you won a $200,000,000 power ball (lottery), what is the first thing you would buy or do?

CL: Exactly as I said before: build a contemporary house, buy a palazzo or abbey high on the sea and a penthouse with a roof garden. If the time machine still doesn’t exist yet, opening a foundation or museum to help artists and research people.  

FCJL | If you could invite up to 4 people for dinner, who would they be… dead or alive?

CL: For the moment… Proust, Cocteau, and Philippe Jullian because of the book I’m reading or just read. Or dear close friends of mine who have passed away too young in the past twenty/thirty years. 

FCJL | What is your favorite movie or movie star?

CL: Depends on the moment. Right now, Vanessa Redgrave in “Blow-Up” or Kay Kendall in “The Reluctant Debutante,” Elina Labourdette in “Les Dames Du Bois de Boulogne,” Italian movies from the 50s/60s, Anouk Aimée in “8 1/2,” Rampling in “The Damned,” and Mangano in “Theorema.”

FCJL | What is the one thing you would change about yourself?

CL: Everything. 

FCJL | Whose opinion do you value most?

CL: My wife and my friend Olivier Saillard. 

FCJL | What store or which designer do you most like to shop in or wear?

CL: Ralph Lauren, Margiela, Commes des Garçons.

FCJL | What’s your take on magazines, books versus the internet?

CL: Prefer paper for sensuality, but find more and more wonderful documents on the Internet. 

FCJL | Do you have a dream collaborator?

CL: I don’t think so. 

FCJL | What is your crowning achievement thus far in your career?

CL: I like my new life in between designing stage costumes, decorating hotels, curating exhibitions and scenographies after years of fashion and also train/tramway designing.  

FCJL | What’s your music library like?

CL: None. Only classic radio. 

FCJL | What and where is your favorite meal?

CL: Anything with garlic, olives, olive oil, cheese, good wine, and of course lobster, caviar, and foie gras. I love “Jules Cesar” restaurant in Arles (I’ll rush there in two minutes as soon as this answering will be over!) In Paris, I’m very fond of “Meurice” and “Bristol” bar and restaurants. “Le Voltaire” and “Petrelle,” too! 

 

Christian Lacroix

pictures courtesy Marcio Madeira

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