The second edition of ANTI_FASHION, initiated by Calvino Stephanie, consisted in a wide enthralling and rich playground for our Fashion master students. As many foreign designers were invited to present their work in some rustic boothes in the giant J1 airshed/ Marseille. One of those designers quickly caught our attention, manikins wearing garments with an impression of torn colored fabrics that couldn’t let you without questioning yourself. No labels on the creations, and the designer surely in the assembly listening to the participants, we managed to reach the young man the 2nd day of the conference. In a strong impetus of kindness and share, here’s what Quoï Alexander had to tell us :
- Could you name yourself and speak a little bit about you ?
My name is Quoï Alexander, Q.U.O.I « avec tréma pour le I » (he really did say that in french). I’m 26 years old and from California. My brand is based in Paris and it’s been there three years.
- What are the reasons that lead you to leave California to study in London ?
I actually studied sculpture and painting in California before and I also took a fashion class, I heard about Central Saint Martins from when I was fourteen and it was actually the only school I wanted to go to.
I loved at the time Alexander Mcqueen and John Galliano, and I was like « Ok they went to school there so I would go to school there » and it’s the only school I applied for and I got in luckily. I went to London when I was 18.
- When did you decide your specialization would be in fashion ?
Actually my sister has a dance company in NY, my other sister is an actress and my mother is an artist and an art teacher, having all those arts around me made me understand fashion is like a combination of everything, it’s performance, it’s painting, it’s color. It’s cultural and anthropological, it has so many aspects to it. It’s like the one way you have to participate in art, you don’t have to fix your hair, you don’t have to draw paintings everyday, but you have to dress yourself you have to choose clothing, you have to wear something and that’s a statement, even if you don’t care, unless you are nude, which most people are not. So I found that social aspect really interesting.
- Well it seems that in your garment there are specific incorporated technics we didn’t really heard of yet, could you explain where it could come from or is it an innovated technic of your own ?
It came from experimenting, exploring a lot of time. I started to do weaving in a more traditional way, but with untraditional fabrics like rubbers and plastics and stuff like that. But I wanted to do something I can control a bit more, so I started to weave into a grade like a mesh, a mesh fabric. I found some of the mesh fabrics accidentally and I started to play with it and weave into it, and it just kind of evolved through the years to become sometime tridimensional, sometimes using leather. (He kindly shows us the top he’s wearing and explains a little bit more his technics)
There is no sewing, everything is done with just like this small knot around the end.
I like to mix as many fabrics as I want to, I choose from everywhere, sometimes a lot of my fabrics I find in junkshops, I’ve also got into a lot of factories. I use their waste and all the leathers I use are extra from fashion houses and factories which don’t use them because they have mistakes or something but because I cut everything into small stripes, it doesn’t matter if there are some mistakes I can still use it.
I like the idea of using waste, I like to give value to waste, because I don’t really believe in the hierarchy of things.
Here for instance it’s a net, when I use something like that I can really engineer the fabric and choose like, Ok here I want this kind of leather, or this kind of structure, or if I want something else I can really be precise with each centimeter of the garment.
- You’ve already told us about Alexander Mcqueen and Galliano, but we would like to know more about your inspirations. Could say a word about it ?
My inspirations have evolved a lot, when I was a student and when I was young I was excited by other designers and as I progressed I became less and less interested. And now I don’t really get excited by many designers it’s more about my journey and myself. None me personally but the journey that I had so far artistically , where that’s leading. I like to try and push out inspiration, at least visual inspiration. I like to have concept and abstract inspiration which guide me but in terms of visuals stuffs I’m trying to push out as much as possible trying get something very pure and kind of instinctive in my work.
- Do you draw or you just imagine your garment during the preconception of your collections ?
I love to draw and it was the way I used to work, I would draw and then design but now I kind of find that when I draw I can’t be surprised. What I always say to myself is that if I can imagine it before it’s created then it’s not good enough. If I can imagine it it means that my brain is working on it, and I know my brain is limited and I know my brain goes like use this, this and this.
But when I’m working and experimenting spontaneously it’s the only way that I can achieve something which is beyond me and better than me, and I’m still curating it, I find it more pure if I don’t draw first. Although I do love drawing, I end up doing the illustrations and drawing after the garment is created.
- Could you describe the motivation and the expectations of your customers in the purchasing of your collection ? What do they like about your collection ?
Well it’s turned that, bags are what people respond most to in terms of buying and wearing, I think they are easier to wear, a lot of the fabrics, a lot of the clothing become too complicated.
There are certain people who work in fashion that are really interested about my clothes and wear them, but in general I find that the bags are much easier for people to wear it.
- What do you want to communicate to the fashion world ?
I want to say that we can work, we can be without labels and restrictions, without rules. I find we kind of have too many rules.
I want to make something which would connect to everyone and they can feel a deep connection to the clothes, but at the same time I don’t want people to like the clothes because of a reference or because of a preconceived idea. I hope to be expanding people’s mind and to be pushing their confort levels basically.
I have struggled with exactly what I want to communicate, for me the work comes first and the process.. well for me the concept is enough. So maybe people can be interested in the concept and that’s what I want to communicate.
When I’m looking to the features as a brand and what I want to say, it ends up being about breaking down, labels and pushing people to try new things I guess.
- And maybe it is related to what you previously said, the waste is a value to you :
Exactly, we don’t need all those kind of rules for our society or for our culture to give one thing so much value and to the other none.
- For instance, in your communication, do you use the word « sustainability » to describe your creations ?
Not really, I don’t really like the connotation that comes with it and I don’t like the idea that I’m putting that above design or above the concept. I feel responsible, not even responsible but I feel it’s necessary to be sustainable but I don’t want to use that as a marketing thing. I find it just as a core value rather than a tool.
And I think that a lot of brands who try to be sustainable, they sacrifice something.
- We were looking for a name in your garment, a label but we couldn’t find it, could you explain us ?
Yes, I don’t have labels. I don’t know. I think I should probably. Even the bags don’t have labels. I don’t know why, I should do it. (laugh)
Like words, and vocabulary and stuff like that, I always struggle with it a lot even like sometimes people ask me to describe the brand in three words, I don’t like to give vocabulary and I want it to be beyond language, I want language to be unimportant.
For example, on Instagram you have to have a brand name so it’s important but at the same time I struggled with language.
- But how do you communicate ?
I use Instagram, but even pictures I don’t like very much. I prefer concept, and touching. The concept and the technology, or anti technology or whatever, I think it is the most interesting part and the image it’s great for communicating and I know it’s so powerful for us but I don’t like to have favorite photographers or anything like that, I don’t. I haven’t had an image which has been impacting in a really big way or in a really significant way so I don’t praise that much. No importance on that !
- It’s not that without any communication the brand cannot evolve on a higher scale but how to manage it while diminishing the visual part ?
In the end I become a very anti everything, no images, no words so I have to give in and to compromise at some points and in some ways. I don’t know what the scale will be. I want to continue to be able to work and to explore, and that’s the most important thing. I hope more people become interested in my work, but exactly the method for how to market that and how to promote, I haven’t figured out yet.
- What do you think about that ANTI-FASHION phenomenon ?
I think it’s been really great, really interesting. Some opinions which I agree with and some not. And I think that’s cool to have a lot of types of stories. Yes I‘m really happy to be invited here, it’s been great.
- Where do you sell your collections ?
I sell it online, and in a few shops in the US, France and Italy.
My website is quoialexander.com.
Pictures : Marion Jourdan
Marion Jourdan & Shérine Bakour