Few souls (see: Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuttion F/W ‘09) have the ability to declare that bunny ears are high fashion in a way that elicits warm responses from worldwide style makers (see: Madonna, Costume Institue Gala ‘09). French designer Benoit Missolin may be newer on the scene, but we already know that he’s definitely got the touch.
Here’s what his world is all about:
How did you become interested in design?
Benoit Missolin: My taste for fashion probably comes from my Mum. She's a very elegant woman who always took care of her looks. In the 50s as a teenager she moved to Morocco with her parents and stayed in Casablanca few years. There she had there a couturier who made her clothes, and someone to make her shoes to match with her looks.
As a child, every Wednesday or Saturday afternoon I used to go shopping with her to Provence to Avignon, close to where I grew up.
I remember always stopping by this shop where they were selling Jean Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, and Thierry Mugler. I was totally fascinated by these designers.
I also started to buy French fashion magazines as a kid.
My little puppet Snoopy was my first model.
You worked with some very impressive designers (Christian Lacroix, Jean Colonna, Thierry Mugler, and Fred Sathal) before launching your own line. Were any of these experiences poignant enough to push you to the next level?
BM: After school I was very curious to work with different designers, so tried many different internships. The first was at Thierry Mugler, where i helped put together haute couture and showroom shows. It was super exciting -- fashion was fun, and felt nothing to do with business; we were working all nighters, drinking Champagne in the basement, and working on some amazing pieces.
Since I was fifteen years old, Christian Lacroix has always been my mentor, and was my first fashion shock; I believe our common south origin has to do something with it. After discovering his work, I decided to write him, ask some advice, and showing him some of my sketches. It was then that our correspondence began.
Christian invited me to all his haute couture show, and I think I cried the whole time -- there was so much emotion. Christian was so helpful for the beginning of my career.
When I began working for Jean Colonna, I stayed just a few months because I had a very bad motorcycle accident that put me very close to losing capacity of my right arm and hand. During the six months that I had to return to the south of France to recover, I understood how short life could be, and decided that I had to start my own brand as soon as possible.
Meanwhile when I came back to Paris, I worked as first assistant to Fred Sathal for two years, doing absolutely everything for her (sewing, designing, waking her up every morning and making her coffee). She was a very incredible girl -- very talented -- and also had a very dark side, a bit like a witch.
Finally one day, I felt I was ready to leave (No more boss!) and start my own fashion story.
What is your current inspiration?
I feel I am very aware of everything around me -- super sensitive.
I'm also obsessed by some themes such as the circus like the "majorettes", 50s couture, and my muse the French Pop Singer Lio.
I'm actually also particularly in love with Tim Walker's photography.
It is said that your creations are an invitation to "go party." In spirit, please tell us about the best party you’ve ever been to.
BM: I always have been a big music and party lover. I started to party very young, and I will always remember my first trip to New York when I was eighteen years old. Following that trip, I returned every six months, going to Limelight, Club USA, The Tunnel, the Twilo, or my favorite dance floor The Roxy. I also loved going to this club called End Up in San Francisco.
I'm so annoyed all of these clubs are closed now...
I came to Paris at eighteen years old, so I knew the very ending of the club called Boys, where DJ Laurent Garnier played amazing house music and everybody was all dressed up. We would prepare our outfits all week long to look amazing for the weekend... It was very creative. I attended my first Susanne Bartsch party there -- absolutely incredible and so inspiring.
A bit later I was part of one of the first rave parties; we would travel all around France, having parties in hidden places, nothing was official.
As you see, I can't choose one party since I loved so many.
I still go clubbing, but now in the UK. My boyfriend is a famous American DJ based out of London. He organizes some really cool parties, like ‘DISH,’ which happens in a small club in East London called East Bloc. I feel a really good energy there and I’m glad clubbing is not dead!
Your absolute dream party... Go!
BM: The place: The Roxy in NYC; the music: my boyfriend Tom Stephan (a.k.a. Superchumbo); the hosts: Joey Arias, Lypsinka, and La Pequena.
What are your personal styling tips for your collection?
BM: If you wear hats or headbands, you know people are going to look at you because you look different, but I believe that makes you feel special.
I always say a hat is like the dot on the ‘i.’ It should be like shoes; it ends your look perfectly.