Pierre Louis-Auvray. You’ve probably come across his other-worldly work on your Instagram explore page and had to blink a handful of times before fully making sense of what was before your eyes. A recent Central Saint Martins graduate, Pierre has designed a plethora of bizarre creations that seem to be only normal for humans living in the year 2500. His work spans from models dressed like the offspring of a Nintendo Entertainment System and Gundam(ガンダム) to bodysuits that make the wearer appear to have super-strength.
You can find him and his designs on his instagram page @forbiddenkn0wledge. We had the chance to interview Pierre and get to know him beyond the designs.
So Mr. Auvray, I want to get to know you before the brand, before fashion and Central Saint Martins, what was your childhood like? What do you think drew you to video games and fantasy? For me I was always a recluse and didn’t socialize well so I found relief in books and anime. Did you have a similar experience?
Yes it was pretty much the same. I come from a small village so apart from the week days in high school I was pretty much alone and had to keep myself busy. Playing video games was a whole adventure for me as my parents were strictly against it and would take my computer power cable so I wouldn’t play more than one hour a day max. I had to be resourceful and bought some cables behind their backs to play at night. They were conservatives as well so it was an oppressing atmosphere at home. There were some bad times. I think it’s why I draw inspiration from games, anime and geek culture, it makes me nostalgic.
What was the first time you were introduced to designing and fashion? Is there any entity/person that influenced you to plunge into the pandemonium of fashion designing? What are a few brands you admire and/or were inflicted by, both new and old?
The first taste of fashion I got was through magazines ads in a dentist or therapist waiting rooms’ magazines, it seemed so fancy and outside of reality, that was the dream they were selling. I wasn’t appealed to it so much but it was a lasting impression, this is probably why I was drawing so much as a kid. I wish I still had some of these sketches, I looked for it to send you some but couldn’t get my hands on them, that would have been funny… Anyway I didn’t intend to start a career in fashion at all, I went to Law School but dropped out after a year, it wasn’t for me!
In terms of brands I admire I don’t want to sound too cliche but Alexander McQueen was a big inspiration when I was 14-15 years old, like so many people from my generation probably. I’m also a big fan of Space Age fashion designers, Pierre Cardin, Courreges, I wouldn’t place Kansai Yamamoto in this category but his work as a huge place in my heart. There’s also 20471120 and the work of Masahiro Nakagawa, Yoshiki Hishinuma, Beauty: Beast, so many avant-garde japanese designers but also Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler for their dramatic approach to shows and designing. The list goes on…!
What was your personal style like before CSM? How has it evolved? Are you one of those designers who dresses like Steve Jobs or do you indulge in the aesthetic of your collections?
It hasn’t evolved much! I’m the Steve Jobs type for sure! I really tried to indulge in the aesthetic of my work but I mostly go to thrift stores for myself and everytime I get my hands on a cool looking piece to wear I end up reworking it and not being able to put it on!
What was your experience like at CSM? What are some things you learned? Do you think fashion school is a requirement for a successful designer ?
My experience was enjoyable as a whole although I had a difficult first year. The people who work there were always nice and caring to me and the tutors very helpful. I learnt a huge deal from them. I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity, I’m not sure it ever was but the more you can learn the better. The skills are a big part of the work so if you don’t want to go to school or can’t afford it you should find a way to learn them somewhere else. CSM also offers a lot of workshops, machines, technicians and students from other pathways to collaborate with and it’s a huge advantage!
A common theme running through your two collections to date is a reference to the future. I was wondering, what would be a utopian future if Pierre Louis-Auvray was the designer? From the clothing to the technology could you describe to me some features you’d like to see?
I like to think that it would be a big circle. I don’t know if you are familiar with The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games but basically one is set in medieval times (although its never clearly stated so) and the other (Fallout) takes place in the wastelands of America during the year 2287 or so. As a teen I had my theory while playing Skyrim (one of the TES games) that they were actually both part of the same universe and Fallout was the past and Skyrim the present. So eventually there would be this loop and all life would stop for a while then grows back and we would have to start from scratch, maybe trying to do better each time.
Realistically speaking in an utopian future we would have to develop some consciousness regarding class, harness more sustainable structures and forms of energy. Reusing should take a bigger place in our lives and reconnecting with the past in fashion shouldn’t just consist of just taking inspiration but honoring it too by contextualizing it.
What are some good sides and downsides to the use of technology present day and how do you represent this dichotomy in your collections? On one hand the internet allows ideas to spread rapidly and the graphics on my gaming systems keep getting better but on the other hand we have chinas credit system and an exponential decrease of natural resources.
Technology isn’t necessarily the problem, we can do things that weren’t possible before like 3d scanning and printing which is still crazy to me so that’s very exciting. However it can be detrimental if you start replacing people by machines so you can produce faster, but that has to do with an exponential will to make profit at any cost and the problem there lies within the system as a whole not just fashion. It comes back to what I was saying previously, we have lots of ethical resources like recycling garments for people like me. On a bigger scale when it comes to production big houses should focus on ethically sourced fabrics and materials, it’s more expensive but they can afford it and it’s money well spent. But you can’t force them, if you start enforcing strict laws instantly people are just gonna find a way to cheat. It needs to be a natural progression, there’s already an important focus on that in schools now so hopefully that will pay off.
Your previous two collections have set a high bar for fantastical and otherworldly clothing. What is the pressure like to make something new for your third collection? Do you worry about what other people think about your designs or do you disregard it, how does this affect you personally and does it influence your designs?
It does stress me out, I can’t really work on a project if I’m not 100 per cent inspired by it, it can takes me weeks or months to find something I really believe in and start creating. So obviously it’s very high pressure but it’s ok if your goal isn’t to be part of the big machine and traditional fashion schedule. I just want to put out stuff that I’m proud of enough to share it ! It’s obviously gratifying when people show appreciation for your designs but opinions don’t really affect me. It’s not that I disregard it but there are always gonna be people that don’t get what you are doing, it’s normal and it’s healthy to spark discussions.
How do you balance the creative aspect of designing a line and the financial aspect. Most of your pieces seem to be one-offs and for a very particular customer, do you feel a pressure to make more commercial garments to support the brand financially?
Haha yes my stuff is absolutely not commercially viable, I have to make side jobs to find the funds. For that I love to do illustration work for other people, prints for designers etc, it’s also an amazing way to collab. I know I really need to start selling my stuff but Iike you said they are mostly one-offs and I get too attached to them, I need to step up my game…
How big of a part are you in the construction of your garments. Do you have a close team who takes the reigns in bringing your ideas to life or are you pretty hands on and come with a blueprint of how you want stuff made?
Maybe people have the wrong idea of what I do but I’m a one man team! I do everything from designing, draping, pattern cutting and making ! Although this year while I broke my hip and was working on the Vfiles show from home, spending my time between physiotherapy and my work space so my mum did help me by knitting a lot of ribbings ! I have to experiment a lot and my workplace is more of a lab than a fashion studio… I also like to be in control of everything which is not very helpful…
If you could give an aspiring designer one tip you’ve learned through experience what would it be?
Trust your instincts but be open to criticism and keep an open mind! It’s good to question what you do sometimes so you have to really stand for something and believe in it to stay focus. Find your niche and go for it !
What’s your fav anime besides Akira and why? I also wanna know your fav manga/author and why?
My favorite animes of all time are X from Clamp, Last Exile, Wicked City and my favorite manga authors would be Mashamune Shirow (appleseed series0 and Junji Ito!
Have you ever cosplayed? If you come to the states we should go to anime-expo and wear your designs that would be epic.
I actually never did that but that sounds like a super cool idea, it’d be pretty fitting so definitely !!
When I was 14-15 I would look up online any video games I played and search for hentai versions but that’s pretty much it haha
Written by Oliver Leone from @yourfashionarchive