Designer Spotlight – Olivier Green
Recently, I got the chance to meet up with menswear designer, Olivier Green, at Table 12 in the East Village. He has recently appeared on the latest season of Project Runway, where he made it to the top 8 and showed his collection at this fall’s New York Fashion Week. Since the show, he has been working very hard on his newest collection, which will be shown next year. Olivier was very eloquent and he shared his design background, thoughts on fashion, and future goals for his upcoming brand.
Olivier: I got into the world of art through drawing; I used to always draw when I was a kid. Then, when I was 16, I decided to go to London to do an art general course, where I took architecture and interior design. It was a course required for all art majors so I did lots of things; I did fine art, animation, and film, so that’s how I got into fashion. I found fashion and I thought compared to architecture and interior design it’s more interesting and fast paced. With movement and everything, it seems more interesting, so I decided to go to a university doing fashion. I went to Milan for three, almost four, years at the university and that’s where I got my degree in fashion design. During that time, I mainly focused on menswear so my graduate collection was a menswear collection. Then after that I moved back to London, where I worked for several designers. Then after a few seasons I came to New York and worked freelance as a designer.
DK: Very good. What would you say are some of your design influences?
Olivier: Well, I’ve always had a lot of passion in architecture so that’s really one of my go to inspirations. When I was a student, I used to find inspiration in literal things so I would go to an artist or an architect and look at a certain period in time and draw inspiration from those things. But then afterwards, I find that fashion has to be something personal. There are millions of people out there designing; why am I special? I am me and I have to make my clothing personal to me and that’s what’s going to make it special. So I started to look around myself and get inspiration from what interests me the most. I walk around a lot just to see inspiration in people’s clothing and different cultures, and also see little things that I experience everyday, then my work becomes more personal.
DK: Do you feel that you are able to do what you want to do, or do you feel a pressure to make garments for the mass public?
Olivier: I want to make a statement in some sort of way. Maybe not a flamboyant or outrageous statement but my dream is to be influential in design. I want to create things that I believe in, that I think should go. I want to make clothing that I think people should wear, not something that they want to wear. It’s interesting because when I look at big designers like Prada, they have the power to make whatever they want and people will love it. But as young designer, it’s a struggle because I don’t have that power and that voice. So in the end, you have to make ends meet and you have to make a living off of your clothing. It’s hard to find that balance, but I think there’s a target group out there that can appreciate my clothing.
DK: Yeah for sure. What does your current collection look like? Are you only doing menswear at the moment?
Olivier: Well, I’ve always had more of a passion for menswear since I feel that I can relate to men more. I understand at least what I want to wear. But since the show [Project Runway], I’ve done woman’s wear and I presented a woman’s wear collection at fashion week. That has been really well received, something that I wasn’t expecting so I’m going to be doing both in the future. For my next collection, I’m aiming to do between 12 and 18 looks and I’ll do say 10 women and 8 men, or 12 women and 6 men. I want to have a capsule collection, not something crazy big.
DK: What materials are you really into right now?
Olivier: For my next collection, and even this collection I just presented, I used a lot of neoprene and a lot of synthetic fabrics like vinyl and plastic. Doing menswear, I always go towards wool, or suiting fabric, and I find that really interesting on women. I also like experimental fabrics and technical fabrics. A lot of people respond negatively to plastic, but I think there’s so many possibilities and a lot of innovation comes from plastic, polyester, and nylon. I think they’re really nice actually so I’m looking forward to using those. I don’t respond too well to really feminine materials such as satin.
DK: Where do you see your collections going in the next couple of years, from a business and design standpoint?
Olivier: I would like to have my collection placed in several stores in the area [NYC] that I’ve believed in. I would be honored if they represented my collection and carry it in their stores. I want to have a few key selling points and want to build my brand. Design wise, I’ve always thought my clothing isn’t so American in a way that it doesn’t really make you look glamourous or anything. When I design my “woman”, the girl is very strong and unique; not somebody who talks a lot, but someone who thinks and is intelligent. Calm and collected, but not too feminine.
DK: Are there any current trends that you dislike?
Olivier: When people sag their pants; I just find that really disturbing. Or when something is too tight on a woman. Another thing I hate the most is when people’s trousers are too long and they end up stepping on the bottoms, then they become ripped and disgusting, usually covered in mud or dirt.
DK: How would you describe your personal style?
Olivier: I really like to pair things up, like something that is significant looking, or important in some way, with something else that is just blah. I really like vintage but don’t normally wear vintage from head to toe. When I go out, I don’t really go through my wardrobe, change a million times and then see if it’s good or not. I just go with my mood.
Olivier has started a Kickstarter project to raise funds for his upcoming A/W 2012-13 collection. He would appreciate your support and donations; no donation is too small! The project can be seen here.