Interview with creative director of Ann Demeulemeester, Sébastien Meunierneol.jp | neol.jp

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text by Makoto Kikuchi
photo by Satomi Yamauchi

Interview with creative director of Ann Demeulemeester, Sébastien Meunier

NeoL_sebastian | Photography : Satomi Yamauchi


NeoL_sebastian2 | Photography : Satomi Yamauchi


2013年、Ann Demeulemeester創設者アンの退陣後、セバスチャン・ムニエがクリエイティブ・ディレクターに就任したことは、ファッション界を揺るがすニュースとなった。今回日本で同ブランド2018年春夏コレクションの立ち上がりに際し、就任後初となる来日を果たしたムニエ氏。20世紀を代表するアメリカ人写真家ロバート・メイプルソープの写真に着想を得たという今回のコレクションについて、そして自身のクリエイティビティについて、話を伺った。



ーデザイナーに就任後は初となる今回の来日ですが、それ以前には何度も訪れていらっしゃるとうかがいました。

Sebastien「初めて日本を訪れたのが1999年。神戸で行われたファッションの祭典に、若手フランス人デザイナーとして招かれました。その後マルジェラで働き初めてから10年間は、インスピレーションを求めて、何度も日本を訪れています」



ー以前、別のインタビューで、「服づくりのインスピレーションはファブリックから始まる」と仰っていますね。それはその頃から既に意識されていたのでしょうか。


Sebastien「魅力的なファブリックを選んでそこからストーリーを展開していく、というのは僕がマルジェラ時代に学んだ最も重要な部分です。今でもそれは変わっていません」


—Would you say that you get your ideas from the fabric first, and then expand to the design from there?


Sébastien: “It’s true that we always start to explore fabrics to choose the more charming fabrics, the more poetic ones that we can find. In general, it helps to start the story.”


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ーしかし今回日本で展開が始まる2018SSコレクションでは、メイプルソープが撮影した、“パンクの女王”パティ・スミスの写真がテーマですよね。


Sebastien「確かに、メイプルソープの写真がインスピレーションとなっていますが、最初にヒントを得たのはファブリックです。ファブリックに着想を得て、それを展開していきますが、そのプロセスは様々。例えば最新コレクション、2018AWでは詩人ウィリアム・ブレイクの作品に心を動かされたことから、その時の感情と同じ空気を纏ったファブリックを探しました。そこからコンセプトを咀嚼するようにしていくうちに、様々な要素が入り込んできて、ストーリーに説得力が生まれたんです。物語が少しずつ広がって行く—。そんな感覚でした」


ー始め予期していなかったファクターが加わるということでしょうか。


Sebastien「そうです。SSのショーではWarhausというバンドが生演奏で加わっています。音楽というのは私にとって、インスピレーションの延長線上にあるものであり、ファイナルタッチです。コレクションの制作の過程で私が抱いていた夢や感情を表現するため、自分の中にあるエモーションをなるべく明確に説明してくれるような音楽を探します。今回は、バンド側からのオファーで、彼らの出演が決定しました」


ー何が決め手でしたか。


Sebastien「バンドのメンバーは皆20代の若者達です。今回のイメージソースであるメイプルソープの写真は1970年代に撮影されたもの。あの頃メイプルソープとパティ・スミスが持っていた若者特有のエネルギーには、同じユースにしか表せないと感じました。何より、自分が内面に描いていたものと、彼らの音楽が合致していた、というのは決定打になりましたね」

—In terms of the 2018 Spring/Summer collection, I thought that maybe it was photographs that you first gained inspiration from, and then expanded the ideas from there. Is that correct?


Sébastien: “It’s a double process. It’s in the meantime. Of course, ideas can come from pictures. For example, the last collection in the winter was about William Blake and it came from an image and the title of a book by William Blake. So by the image we got an emotion that we wanted to explore. And of course, meanwhile, we were looking at fabrics and we tried to find the same vibe. It’s a way to start. And then after, the story becomes stronger and stronger, step by step. It’s not like it’s immediately clear, much often you get someone, an artist, the work of an artist, who start with that small image and after, you think; What kind of garment? What kind of fabric? But it always starts with the fabric.”


Sébastien: “The spring/summer was about Robert Mapplethorpe & Patti Smith, but the winter was about William Blake.”


—I recognize Patti Smith as the queen of punk music, but in what ways are you inspired by music usually for your designs?


Sébastien: “The music is not the starting point. The music comes at the end, when the story is there and we have to express it in the best way, the mood of the collection. So, we generally work on that the week before the show because we have seen all the garments, we know what we want to express, and then we search the vibe or to balance in a different way, or to go straight to the point. It’s never with a song that I start, I finish with the song.”


—You were saying in another interview that you were taught about freedom and living with a story when you were working with Margiela, does that have anything to do with what you just said about music?


Sébastien: “The music is an extension of the story. It’s definitely in touch with the emotion. You know we are a romantic, poetic brand. We try to give a dream, a strong emotion and so the music has a major importance to take the emotion of the public. It’s really sought out to balance and to mix it well with the collection because you can put any music in the collection. Really the emotion will be so different. It’s not about putting good music, it’s just about finding the right emotion. Sometimes we use a singer that may differ from my personal favorite, but is the best representation of a certain emotion for the collection, that’s very crucial. It’s also a way to discover a new singer or a new emotion by this singer. For example, the summer Patti Smith collection, a Belgian band “Warhaus” performed during the show. I met them because they were asking for our garments for the concert. And at one point listening to their music, I noticed they were the right one for this collection to express what I wanted to present with to the public. But the process is also meeting people and speaking about it. It’s really a work day after day. Then we choose the right one.


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ーパティ・スミスの自伝『Just Kids』では、メイプルソープとの関係について、セクシュアリティの観点で非常に興味深い記述がありますね。そこは意識されていましたか。


Sebastien「元々、男女の仲であった二人が、メイプルソープの新たなセクシュアリティへの気付きによって、別の次元の関係へと発展していくところですよね。“ジェンダーレス”というのは、デザイナーとしてずっと私が追求しているものです。女性の服には力強さをプラスし、男性の服には女性らしさを加えます。そうすることで、男女の境界線がより流動的になっていくのです。男性モデルの髪をカーリーなスタイリングにしたのは、若かりしメイプルソープがカーリーヘアであったことから着想を得ています」

ーアン・ドゥムルメステール本人はメイプルソープ、パティ・スミスとプライベートな意味で懇意であったと伺っておりますが、デザインの過程で、アンの視点とご自身の視点を重ね合わせることはあったのでしょうか。


Sebastien「自分自身を、アン本人に重ね合わせたことは一度もありません。しかし、彼女の存在が、私の中で非常に大きいというのは確かですし、様々な側面で共通する部分があると思っています。ですから無意識のうちに、アンの視点と私の視点の両方がデザインに投影されている、ということは否定できないと思います」


—Have you read “Just Kids”, an autobiography by Patti Smith?


Sébastien: “Yes. Of course. I don’t know if you have seen it, but I was working on a trouser written with “02 Kids”. The collection is about Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. She speaks about Mapplethorpe and their youthhood in the book. Mapplethorpe was the theme of the men’s collection, he expressed the romantic part of Mapplethorpe. And for Patti Smith, I have shown Patti Smith in white and black with the garment that she was wearing in the 70s with a crown of flowers. Mapplethorpe did a lot of pictures in this kind of garment and style in the 70s. I wanted to represent the period when she was working or when she was starting her career. That’s also why I wanted a young band to sing.”
“It was also a way to prepare a concert live with the show so it was really something nice and poetic and charming.”

—Are the people of this band young? What generation do they belong to?


Sébastien: “22-25 years old?”


—Are you inspired by youth culture sometimes?


Sébastien: “Not only, but yes. Of course. It always gives a lot of vibe and a lot of energy so of course.”


—One memorable part of the story in the book was when Smith and Mapplethorpe were in a relationship and it ends due to Mapplethorpe changing, realizing his gay sexuality. In the same way, I can feel an androgynous sense working together in your collection. Where you conscious of expressing this in your newest collection?


Sébastien: “It’s something that I always explore, the gender-less sexuality. It’s also one of the definitions of the brand from the beginning. Ann would always make the boys slightly softer and women stronger. I would say that I push the limit a bit more and I like to show the boys more feminine, and the girls more powerful and masculine. However because it’s also my own drive, I have to find my way to express the same thing. For me, Patti Smith and Mapplethorpe represent very well, this kind of mixture. First, Patti Smith and Mapplethorpe were still friends with Ann and her husband, and there’s a relationship with them that is very strong. But I would say that they were also trying a bit of everything to find their own character and own art too. They were really searching themselves in a strong way. When Mapplethorpe was taking a picture of her in a slightly masculine garment, she was kind of powerful, but also in a very fragile way. Mapplethorpe was wearing the same thing, the same shirt not on the waist, with some necklace. And yet his hair that was curly. I just felt kind of out-feminined, out-masculinized. After I went in a more masculine way later, there was also mixing genders together, the sexuality was not completely clear, and tried a bit of everything. That was really interesting for me to explore that in a collection of garment.”


—Ann was close to both Smith and Mapplethorpe, but do you try to express your ideas through her view or your own view?


Sébastien: “Both. In fact, what is interesting is that I’ve always been a huge admirer of Mapplethorpe about his work and his life. This is a common thing that I have with Ann. I don’t know, I’ve never met Mapplethorpe but I’ve loved his work for a very long time, deeply. It “was” a part of our lives, but he “is” still a part of our lives. There was a connection. I have my own vision of that could take the DNA of the brand also. It was just two things that were working together. It was easy.”



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ーかつてインタビューで仰っていた「自由、そして物語で生きる」という言葉に心動かされました。最後に、あなたにとって「物語」が持つ意味は何か、お聞かせください。


Sebastien「私は、自分自身について語ることをとても大切にしています。それによって相手の心が揺さぶられる瞬間に喜びを感じるんです。そのためには、自分の意志や感情を強く抱いていなければなりません。それも、心にあるものを直接表現できなければ、人の感情を動かすことはできないと思っています」

—Something you have in common with Ann is that you guys are both romantic. You were learning law before you got into fashion, but for me romanticism and law didn’t seem to have a relationship between the two. Is there a correlation?


Sébastien: “When I started the studies of law I was a young guy, and I was searching for what I wanted to do. I really liked to study law, it was very interesting. But at a point I was feeling that it was not to do as a job after. It was not for intellectual stuff, something like this. And this moment I was also very attracted to fashion. Hence I decided to enter into fashion school. Sometimes you have different interests in life, it’s not only one thing. And yeah, it’s two different things but it’s also nice to have different attractions for different subjects and different possibilities that you have, and to explore different things. It enrich your life more to try all the things.”


—One of the most distingished Japanese designer, Rei Kawakubo studied philosophy at school.It seems that Ann Demeulemeester is more, stories about Ann herself, but what about yours?



Sébastien: “I speak about myself. I don’t speak about Ann anymore. I use her DNA because this is the brand she created about herself so it’s very important to respect what she did, and it’s also because I love it. But of course when I do a collection it’s speaking about my feelings and when I choose a time it’s because at the moment, it’s really in my life. I speak about me but with a cause. I put step by step my cause slightly and softly, pushing the limits every seasonin various ways. But of course I don’t speak about her because I will not speak about her life today. She knows better than me, why it’s her life. I wouldn’t speak about something I don’t know. I speak about my part.”


—It’s important to speak and express about yourself instead of following trends, because then you can actually move other people.


Sébastien: “The idea is to be able to move people with this. You have to be very honest with yourself and to really give something from your heart. It’s not just garments. It’s really garment with a vibe, with a story. You have to really be what you are.”


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photography(portrait) Satomi Yamauchi
interview Makoto Kikuchi
edit Ryoko Kuwahara



Sébastien Meunier
ヴェリジー=ヴィラクブレー(フランス)出身。ESMODを卒業、翌年イエール国際モード&写真フェスティバルのメンズ賞を受賞。Martin Margielaにてデザインの経験を積み、2010年よりAnn Demeulemeesterに入社。2013年より同ブランドのアーティスティック・ディレクターに就任。
https://www.anndemeulemeester.com

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