French style icon at Lviv Fashion Week 2011

  • Christophe Guillarme with It-girl Hofit Golan
  • Christophe Guillarme with former Miss France Rachel Legrain Trapani
  • Christophe Guillarme Autumn-Winter 2011 collection  Lviv Fashion Week / April 1
Issue 33, March 2011.

Guillarme is a well-travelled gentleman who loves to explore fashion weeks around the globe and has appeared at fashion season shows in Dubai, Marrakech, Bangkok and South Korea. However, this Leopolitan appearance will  be his premiere in the world of Ukrainian fashion. He is known to be a leading light among French designers in terms of his early recognition of the importance of emerging markets and has long been a vocal advocate of brand expansion in the likes of Russia, Brazil, China and Turkey, often tailoring his collections to ensure maximum appeal to emerging market demographics. The French designer is also famed for the sheer simplicity of his collections something which has aided his efforts to appeal to a broad and democratic demographic across the world and move beyond the suffocating world of the traditional ‘Old Europe’ fashion houses of Paris and Milan. “My style is noticeable at first sight. I’m a real adherent of traditional creative approaches and attention to detail. My products are a mix between Glam Rock and traditional couture,” the designer says of his signature style, adding that his ultra feminine manner of conception merely serves to highlight the very selfconsciously contemporary way of thinking that underpins his work. Prior to his arrival in Lviv the French designer took time out of his schedule to discuss modern fashion issues with Lviv Today.

What inspired you as a child to become a designer?
I’m originally born from the Cote d’ Azur in the south of France and as a child lived close to Cannes so I was directly inspired by the red carpet during the annual Cannes Film Festival! The spirit of the event was already amazing enough in itself and all the ladies attending film screenings were wearing the most amazing gowns!

How can modern fashion designers succeed in standing out from the crowd? Could an unknown designer emerge from obscurity in a relatively unknown market like Ukraine and become internationally successful?

I believe that thanks to the internet and globalization everyone can now be famous for 15 minutes just as Andy Warhol said. It really doesn’t make a difference if you are based in Ukraine or Paris any more. The most important thing now is to make sure you remain true to your artistic vision and do not lose faith in your unique approach to fashion even in the face of almost insurmountable opposition or overwhelming competition. The fashion industry knows no cultural or linguistic boundaries – it is truly global and has never been more competitive!

Where do you seek inspiration for your latest designs?

It’s a really strange process that is difficult to understand via logic alone because each season there are some key trends, colours and fabrics that come into fashion for no particular reason. We are all essentially watching the same movies and attending the same arts exhibitions so perhaps the origins of many fashion fads can be found here. Personally I have found that after a number of years of producing collections you can eventually reach the point where you feel free enough to let ideas come to you naturally and organically without consciously seeking to follow the latest trends.

What is the secret to the continued popularity of your glamorous and extravagant designs?

Frankly I have no clue. It’s been ten years now since I launched my own eponymous line of branded clothing and I struggle to understand exactly what it is about my work that the public seems to value. The only thing I can be reasonably sure of is that my fans enjoy the spirit of my collections, which could be best described as a dolce vita mix of my Riviera childhood with my Parisian couture experience. This is an unusual cocktail that remains quite unusual.

What tips would you have for any young designers making their debut at the upcoming Lviv Fashion Week shows?

I guess that in today’s market the easiest way to get yourself noticed is to provide the dresses worn by celebrities at red carpet events like award ceremonies and film premieres. This is a quick route to a lot of media attention in a very short time!

Lviv is famed as a gateway city linking Europe with Eurasia. How do you think the fashion trends of the two regions compare?

I have recently had the chance to present my latest collection at Korean Fashion Week and also attended Bangkok Fashion Week so I can say with some authority that Far Eastern designers have nothing to be fear from comparisons  with their European colleagues. On the contrary, after having seen the latest collections in both Thailand and Korea I would counsel that it is rather European designers who should be looking over their shoulders and watching out  for an eastern invasion which is coming soon!

Ukraine is perhaps most famous for having the highest ratio of catwalk models per capita of any nation on the face of the earth. Have you ever worked with Ukrainian models and what was your overriding impression?

On one occasion during a fashion show in Georgia I had the chance to work with some Ukrainian beauties and I can confirm that they were simply stunning! This experience – coupled with the reputation of Ukrainian ladies for beauty – is a key reason why I cannot wait to work with Leopolitan models at Lviv Fashion Week.

What are your top tips for what will be hot during the coming spring-summer season?

Without a doubt the key motif for women’s fashion in 2011 will be a return to black and white basics with lots of see-thru lace and an abundance of ultraflattering feminine shapes. Meanwhile, the rock and roll attitude of recent years with its additional 1980s-style shoulder pads will continue to fall out of fashion.