What are you and your fellow designers talking about? Have you come up with any temporary/long term solutions to this problem? How can you work together?

There is no organized solidarity that I know of. No fashion organization of any sort has sent even the tiniest information so far. We are isolated. Luckily, we have a CEO friend here, a lawyer there who we can communicate with. Again, it’s like in a stormy weather situation: We do not chat. We act. This very morning, I had to give instructions for the sanitization of our warehouse, since deliveries to Japan and Korea and some other places are still happening. Later on, we have to question the supply chain and winter 2020/2021 production. And so on.

What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team?

Personally… I isolate myself and play some Velvet Underground live concerts and try to have the same right-hand dynamics as them; and I use no amphetamines. So, that’s my training. And we are planning a live concert with my daughter and my son in Tokyo and Seoul in November for the launch of our Sacai Interaction. So there are arguments about the set list. About the team… well, I just do stupid jokes in the middle of the dramatic conference calls that we do. For example, I always call my CEO “Monsieur le Baron” since, well, he is a legit baron. With the team, one has to keep some Churchillian swag, I’d say. So I try my best at that. I can tell on their faces that they do 12 hours or more of intense work every day. I believe that trying to be clever and to find unseen solutions is still the best cure. One does feel better when one accomplishes the impossible.

What do you need or what would you like from the editorial side of the business that you’re not getting?

I am confident that the piece you’re writing now can help.

When we come out of this, how do you hope the fashion business is changed?

One fashion week a year would be plenty, if you ask me!

Do you think this experience will force you to redefine success?

I did this journey personally already, I must say. It is even written in my untold speech for our March show that we canceled, [which is reprinted below].

March 2nd, 2020

At the end of the day, what I care about most is being loved by my family and
respected by critics. Of course, I could have all this and put together heroic
runway shows, thereby enjoying happiness AND glory. But, in my opinion, the
decision not to fight requires the greatest courage.

Let me explain: at the end of the day, what do we really want when we get
dressed in the morning? We want to stand out, but not in an overly obvious or
flashy way. What is the applied art that allows us to do so? It’s stylism. For this, I
thank our longstanding collaborator, Suzanne Koller. This is why this show makes
a point of emphasizing the freedom that we have to endlessly play with simple
elements. At the end of each show, I think: “Whew, we did it. It was beautiful and
simple, but what will we do in six months?” This is when I remember a quote
from Quincy Jones, who said:

“You know what’s amazing about music?
From Beethoven to Bo Diddley,
all of them had just 12 notes.”

What a paradox: how can magic be made with so few ingredients? 12 notes
is nothing. A Shetland sweater and jeans is nothing. But, working with these
nothings, we can make a magical moment.

This long and thankless job of ours consists of developing clothing,
orchestrations and harmonies, over and over and over. We fine-tune them again
and again. Then, suddenly, a melody appears, like the most natural thing in the
world. Self-evident. We can hear it even though it is still an abstract idea.
Likewise, when we continually combine materials, shapes, colors and
textures, something happens: suddenly, a character comes to life, delivering
messages that make sense – without even speaking. A character ready to fill in 6
months of pages. Until it disappears and is reborn again.

Jean Touitou

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