— Dear Jean Charles, thanks for being our Expert. You are one of key players not only in fashion, but also in art. Do you think that there is actually a di erence between fashion and art? — I would say no. In my career I have always been myself, I am an artist and I am a designer. Spontaneously I have been doing art in fashion. You have to think about all the functions, all the clothes. When you do art, you create a question. In my life, I have always created outfits as creating a question. So I think Art and Fashion are more and more close by. When you create a fashion show today, it looks like an installation, a performance.
— You once said that our industry now is killing the mystery of fashion. What do you mean by «the mystery of fashion»?
— Before the ‘70s, it was especially some kind of haute couture and some kind of industry. The mystery of fashion is that fashion is one of the closest disciplines to the human being because it is the most intimate thing when you are linked to someone. Last year I visited the Museum of Fashion in Paris where you open the door in this museum and you see the wardrobe of Napoleon. It is like a ghost coming out to you. Fashion is something very mysterious, because some part of it is about something that makes you forget about the time passing by.
— Speaking of time, what do you think fashion will look like in the future? — Strangely for me. It is like if I am restarting all my age again. When I started in fashion in the ‘70s I was extremely keen on ecology. I was making recycled clothes, Teddy Bear coats instead of fur coats. Everything in my mind was about ecology. I was taking ecology as a creative challenge, not as a constant. I always learn to be inspired by a constant, to be inspired by the discipline that imposes on me. When I started my career I did all these things because I really believed in Space, aliens and I believed that they needed some kind of help to show by. Now, 50 years later everything around us seems to be passing to some kind of not so simple challenge. We have to reinvent. Moreover, it’s not just about creativity but about the system as well.
— Do you think that one day a man will wear a skirt as a woman does? — It is a fact. Since the beginning of humanity. In some parts of the world, I think almost 70% of men are wearing skirts. In Africa, in Scotland, in some parts of Finland. That is why in my last show in Benetton I had this feeling that I want to do... I don’t know if it is a dress, I don’t know if it is a tunic or a long parka. Some new shapes are appearing.
— Again about your presentation in Milan. As far as I remember the real models were blended with the mannequins. What was that? Did you want to show the blend of real life with not real life? — Yeah, you’ve got my message. So it was all about this. But it was also to say I was always looking for a new way of communication for Benetton. And I was not absolutely convinced that fashion show is the solution. I want Benetton to represent the future of fashion in distribution. It was very interesting for me to do a performance around the idea of all the people going to see the collection in the streets. It was more about the Global Art. In fact I have played with this installation.
— What is the digital life for you? Is it just Instagram or something like that? — Digital is digital. I have always been a fan of electronics. I always loved that very ‘bizarre’ particular sound came out of this computer machine. But when we came to the digital world, to the world of social media, I came to the digital by «My Space». I realized that we were changing the time because with the digital nothing can be the same. Everything would be blended and nothing could be defragmented. And it corresponds very well with what people critiсize in my work.
— By the way, what is the role of fashion designer for society? — It is a good question. The role of a designer for society is what makes me all today after 50 years of mentality into creativity and into wide distribution company like Benetton. Because I have the ambition to do beautiful design for everyone. Not for everyone but for everyone who has got the taste to appreciate them. I call it the «demolution». It means the evolution and the democratic. Because I feel that today I cannot design for haute couture. Because haute couture was perfect when I left it in the 2000’s. But today my role as a designer is to create a new generation of clothes, of out ts with good quality. A perfect wardrobe for democratic clothes.