Designer Alexandre Vauthier would prefer to talk about his label in terms of “allure,” rather than one that shifts with the tides of fashion. “I want to do the best thing for my women and create an absolute femininity, an absolute elegance and an absolute allure,” he says during a visit to the Room at Hudson’s Bay last fall. Indeed, his dazzling jersey dresses and couture ruffled separates have become red carpet mainstays, popular with everyone from Bella Hadid to Michelle Obama. The appeal is in the pieces’ versatility, sure, but more likely because of their ability to stand out in a crowd. “There must be something in my clothes that make all these different women feel good,” he says. The magnitude of the red carpet effect may have changed since Vauthier started his namesake women’s-wear label, which now extends across couture, ready-to-wear and accessories, in 2009, but to him, it represents the same opportunity to please the only critics that matter: the women who buy his wares. Here, he shares the thought process behind his designs as well as his feelings about red carpet season.
You’ve said that couture is a laboratory for your ready-to-wear collection and the red carpet, what is your starting point for design?
I am the owner, the CEO and the artistic director of my own company so this is a lot of work. I have to treat all the creative aspects of this company with reactivity, speed and instinct. So, I don’t have the time to think about one celebrity, or one type of event. I create my collection first. And I think about my final client and women in general; how they live, how they feel, their emotions and their desires. It’s super important for me to listen, get feedback and then propose something they desire.
How do you balance the creative aspects with being the CEO of your business?
I think it’s important to feel the creative way, to feel the emotion and to propose something that women want – after that your business grows. If you want to have success with a brand, it’s super important to drive the creativity in parallel to the concrete aspect of the business. You sell a dream, but at the end you sell a product, and this combination is what makes it unique.
Your spring collection has something a little bit eighties about it.
The eighties were a fabulous period of the old couture houses – Ungaro, Saint Laurent, Dior, Patou – and just after that, a shock to the culture with Mugler and Montana. And I learned in this context, so I got all these classic aspects, but with a modern view about clothes with a new generation.
Would you say that that era inspires all of your collections?
Each collection is inspired by a different story. But at the end, what interests me is to have a collection with versatility. I don’t want my clothes to be seasonal products, rather, something you can keep in your closet with affection.
Why do you think your clothes are such a hit for the red carpet?
It would be better to ask to the celebrities why they choose my clothes, because it’s difficult for me to explain. Between Rihanna, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Vanessa Paradis, Nicki Minaj, Brigitte Macron and Michelle Obama, there is a world. They’re all different ages, from different circles and cultures. But at the end they wear my clothes. So, there must be something in my clothes that make all these different women feel good. Perhaps, it is because the cut and the tailoring are precise, and the pieces highlight the body.
How do you think the red carpet has changed since you started your label in 2009?
When I do my runway, all the stylists and the celebrities are at their screens, and there’s no waiting because July and January are in the middle of big event seasons. So, instantly, it’s: “I want that, I want that, I want that, I want that.”
There’s a lot of talk about how red carpet has become boring. Do you think that’s true?
I think it’s important there is red carpet because [it] is a real moment. But I think you need to treat them like that and not like an advertising event.
Do you have any favourite looks or red-carpet moments?
You love all these women for different reasons. I do it with pleasure each time because it’s like a validation of my work. I appreciate the love of my collection and I appreciate that she feels confident and super secure in my clothes.
Do you believe in “Best Dressed” lists?
When something is ugly, it’s ugly. But mostly, it’s the question of taste. I don’t think it’s necessary to follow rules. I think it’s necessary to feel free and responsible in life.