Antwerp – Pieter Mulier, who has been working alongside Raf Simons since the early 2000s – including as a right-hand man at Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein – got his own chance in the spotlight in February. He became creative director at Alaïa, a position he describes as “winning the lottery”. Mulier left PVH subsidiary Calvin Klein in 2018 after Simons left and then took time out from the industry, not knowing if he would return to fashion.
During a panel at Fashion Talks in Antwerp, the designer shed light on his appointment as creative director of Alaïa in February, how he took on the legacy of the fashion house and the differences he sees in this position compared to previous positions.
After Calvin Klein, he had a “fashion burnout” and no longer felt inspired. The fashion house Alaïa, which is part of the Swiss group Richemont, gave him the opportunity to step out of Simons’ shadow and take over the position of creative director of the fashion house. A house “that hasn’t burned down yet” – that is both an honor and a challenge.
Making the heritage known to the outside world
When he first started as creative director at Alaïa, Mulier asked outsiders from the industry what they knew about the fashion house. Despite the internet, he was treated with ignorance by friends and family, which made him – a fan of Alaïa since the age of 18 – question what his “real job” is at the fashion house. Should he apply his own vision to it or “consider it more like a work of art”, as Azzedine Alaïa did. He decided to follow in the founder’s footsteps and make Alaïa’s work known to those unfamiliar with it – especially a younger audience.
“I see my job as taking care of the house, and I don’t think I’m important to the whole story. The name is much more important […],” Mulier told Fashion Talks.
The road to creative director
Alaïa had called him a year before his appointment, the designer said. This gave Mulier time to think about the role and do research. At the time, he thought he knew the fashion house well. However, wanting to expand his knowledge, he started purchasing vintage pieces from the 70s, 80s and 90s. A period of the founder he was not so familiar with.
“I bought, bought and bought. I was so happy every morning when the delivery person came.” Each dress was a surprise to him. These finds completely convinced the designer to take the position.
New chapter at Alaïa
Simons and Mulier, who came from the French couture house Dior in Paris to Calvin Klein in New York, hoped for and experienced the American Dream, but also found out how hard the blow can be after that. “I was disgusted by the amount of products we had to deliver, constantly, 16 times a year. […] At some point I started to wonder: who buys all this?” With Alaïa, Mulier sees the opposite. He knows who the customer is and who he is targeting with his designs. At Calvin Klein he had to work with 300 to 400 people. At Alaïa everything goes through his hand, Mulier says. The team he works with is much smaller. There is no merchandiser or marketing director and “only two collections” a year. The emphasis is on the values of “humanity, respect and beauty”. This total package seems to have brought Mulier back his creativity and pleasure in fashion.
This article first appeared on FashionUnited.DE, then translated and edited into Dutch by Ilona Fonteijn.
Source: fashionunited.nl by fashionunited.nl.
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