In an effort to prepare for this interview, I download as much as I could on the fashion scene for the last days. Ironically, the more I searched, the further I was getting from reaching you. As a teenager, I had catwalk reports, my grandmother’s magazines and maybe two or three obscure blogs where I could get a glimpse into the world of fashion which lured me in and gave me a sense of belonging among  my dazzled teenage internet peers and through fashion ads and other memorabilia that meant nothing to my high school bullies. Today it is as though we are back to Baudelaire’s literature: the same sense of turmoiled curiosity, the same oddity when facing a crowd so vast that we might loose our own sense of self.

The fashion crowd is scary; so many faces shattered in to thousands of a pieces that build up a city where recognizing your own face seems hopeless.  Individuality is a hoax, and fashion is its sponsor.  You created a world where everything floats around you and nothing but your figure is grounded. I’m intrigued.

Luis Ferraz: While your work channels fashion diversity, your antidote seems to be a stubborn stillness: a black mask. Why is that?

I don’t know if I call it a black mask but it’s true the landscape changes and I remain the same yet my vision of things is always very open. I suppose it started when I was a designer for my own brand and I felt that my constantly changing looks were competing with what I was creating and thus the uniform black silhouette was born. At that time it was fluid black shirts and skinny trousers, long skirts and the veil came later. When I stopped designing after 13 years, I kept to the uniform because that is what feels good to me.

Each runway show, each model entrance is one’s dilution. Fashion feels like Tokyo at rush hour where the overwhelming emotions are fright and panic. The uncountable faces of fashion scare the notion of identity. One too many dresses and one too many images seem to get in the way of understanding. You present a safe ground beneath, show no fear of getting lost in this ever-changing motion. Again, why is that?

I know it goes against the grain of ‘fashion’ but I believe once you find your look you can stick to it. Fashion is something that you buy and has a ‘sell out date’ whereas style has no date and you cannot buy it.  I know that it is unexpected in fashion to always look the same but I guess I’m not good at following rules.

I regard you as a totem: an icon. Esthetically, who or what do you esteem?

Originality and people with their own signature is something that I hold in high esteem. Within that criteria there are many that I admire: Rick Owens, Boudicca, Raf Simons, Haider Ackermann, Bernhard Wilhelm, Azzedine. Among the dead designers: Madame Gres, cannot wait to see the upcoming exhibit, Balenciaga, Charles James, Vionnet. Each one of them had their own handwriting and continue to inspire designers through out the decades.

Directors like Almodovar, Lynch, John Waters,  It is all a matter of being true to yourself. I was watching an interview with John Waters recently and the interviewer said people always laugh first at his work and then say it is disgusting but …first they laugh.

Paradoxically to your very image, fashion loves the idea of becoming. Nothing is, therefore, people have to continuously reinvent appearances and styles — constantly in motion. What are people moving toward? A glorification of certain aspirations? Beauty or belonging?

Probably two fold. They are trying to find themselves or to give an illusion of who they might be at that moment. Some are trying to show that they can afford to buy the best. Other’s hide in the safety of an established name. Beauty or belonging , both I guess some like to look beautiful wearing what ever ‘beauty’ means to them. There is comfort in tribes, it’s very diverse it can be the Margiela tribe, the Azzedine tribe, classic/edgy what ever but you won’t be alone.  As soon as you opt for a group you loose a bit of your originality but gain confidence in numbers. For sure, I don’t sit in judgement of anybody. One should please themselves first if it is belonging to a tribe then so be it..

Fashion film is another blank medium where one can transfigure reality. You opened its gates. Is it the first step for moving the focus from fashion as a market, to fashion as a message?

I like the way you think. It’s another way of expressing desire and fashion that is more about a message than fashion as a market but the bottom line is both want to create a desire for someone to go out and buy the clothes.

Is capitalist trade finally giving birth to tax-free semantic? I mean, are fashion advertizing codes and aesthetics giving birth to a new language where its meaning focuses on emotion rather than profited intended seduction?

Interesting, I think that is a good way of assessing fashion. I know that emotion plays a big part in how I react to fashion.  I think the idea is still to seduce in one way or another.

I grew up in a world where aesthetic poetry was fashion modified into money-making schemes Are the seductive times ending because of gatekeepers who promote ideas, rather than channel ideas to sell merchandize?

Gatekeepers are such an 80’s mentality. I would be thrilled if they would just disappear and let designers make their own choices but I understand that is not likely to happen any time soon.  Seduction does play a role in both the designing of clothes and the making of films, but seduction does not mean the same thing to everyone. Some people are totally seduced by unsexy clothes or by what appears to be a very dull static film. It is personal.

Finally, is fashion a fast lane, or an endless journey?

We are living in a time of fast fashion but at the same time it is the redefining of real luxury. The emergence of both at the same time I find interesting and makes sense. I am happy to see people really caring about beautiful craftsmanship that hardly anyone can afford but we can all admire. Fast fashion be it Top Shop or H & M with collaborations with edgy or established designers that offer ‘fashion’ at a reasonable price makes sense and it increases the appetite of the fashion public. It’s cheap so nobody expects it to have a long life. The endless journey towards perfection is another story altogether. Luxury is expensive but it has a real value and it is timeless. I think we need both the fast fashion and the luxury and am happy to see collaborations with the likes of Lanvin and H & M. Not to mention the intelligence on the part of H & M in choosing Mike Figgis to direct the fashion film . I think it has been one of the more interesting fashion film campaigns of late.

Thank you so very much

for sharing both your time and knowledge.

Text: Luís Ferraz | Ilustration: David M. Buisán