Currently reading : Pierre Renaux – Liquidation Totale
I first met Pierre at some semi-corportae club night in a ball room in Holborn a couple of years ago. The club night was hosting a few of my friends who were performance artists and drag queens, it really should have been a great night out but the grand scale of the building and the bizarre amount of West London teenagers monotonised the mood completely. However the highlight of the evening was meeting Pierre who had come to exhibit/perform in his webbed clothing with a friend while working in Gareth Pugh’s showroom.
Since meeting Pierre he has just finished his masters at the esteemed Antwerp school of fashion where he had also studied for his bachelors, his collection named ‘Liquidation Totale’ has won him the Coccodrillo award for shoe design and the MoMu award placing his collection on display in MoMu gallery (which is being shown until the 11th of August). Suzy Menkes, as part of the master-jury for the Royal Academy has described the collection as Â«FuturisticÂ» Â«Imaginative and innovativeÂ» in an article for the New York Times. He has also spent a year in Paris working for Rick Owens and Gareth Pugh in retail and as a studio intern for the house of Mugler. Besides from already receiving this appraisal he has recently shot his striking look book of which we have a preview of here and an interview to explore more about his impressive collection.
Why have you named your collection ‘Liquidation Totale’?
Literally, the name Liquidation Totale refers to the signs that french shop windows display when they are about to shut down, either for bankrupcy or else. ”¨In itself, total liquidation is a heavy message, meaning that things are going to dissolve and disappear. ”¨Symbolically, my master collection is actually the conclusion of a triptych that i initiated with my first collection, Mode Sans Echec, followed by Tout Doit Disparaitre (also written on shop windows during clearance sales and meaning Â«everything must goÂ»)”¨It was a symbolic way of bringing down to earth the total creativity freedom i experienced during my studies to something more mercantile, in a cynical way.”¨Last year, before completing my master, I interned at the house of Mugler and worked a bit in showrooms and retail, and realised that this collection might be my last. Or at least the last with total freedom of expression, no business compromises to make whatsoever, so i had to say what i wanted to say about womenswear before everything disappears and i’m forced to Â«liquidateÂ» into the fashion industry.
How have you found your time at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp?”¨
My time at the Royal Academy was both frustrating and enriching, frustrating because you learn about yourself, and others‘ way of creating and appreciating your creations, the hard way. Also enriching because it opened up my narrow perspectives of what is good and what isnt, how to create, and shake up my process of working. When you are a smalltown boy like me, coming from nowhere and knowing nobody, with no previous relationship to garments or Fashion, the frontal shock can be brutal.”¨The academy took me out of my stupor.
”¨”¨”¨How did your creative process evolve through this collection? What were your initial inspirations?
The designing process was this time much less random and organic than before, I thought very specifically about the designs, and their balance in the total of the 12 looks. I wanted to achieve a mature vestiaire and restrain my directions, to avoid the classic trap of Â«putting-everything-in-thereÂ». I had to edit a lot down to convey a clear and sharp statement, but still dilute it to leave it open to the public’s interpretations and projections, which i think is always very interesting too.”¨My initial inspiration was this artwork from Hans Bellmer Â«Le Vermoulu et le PlisséÂ» also called Â«The CathedralÂ», depicting a lonely woman melting, surrounded by a quiet chaos. I relate a lot to that woman, at this turning point of my life, and wanted to explore all the details and shapes present in this genius visual, and translate them in my collection.”¨I tried to mix this foetal inspiration with the classical formalwear of business women, for their strenght and equal loneliness in the phallocratic world of corporations.
Using pinstripes and pencil skirts was also another way to refer to the mercantile, dry business aspect that frightens me in the fashion industry.”¨I thought interesting to melt and mutate and shatter like glass those references into garments both visually dynamic and decaying.
”¨Can you explain to us the art direction for your look book?”¨
The art direction for my lookbook is a kind of summary of all those inspirations in one image, which was a great challenge. This corporate woman is lonely at the top, stepping on glass shards but feeling nothing. There, in the last floor of her skyscraper she seems empty and isolated, peacefully waiting for the end to come. ”¨I am that woman.”¨It was also very fullfilling to try to achieve a lookbook with strong atmosphere and still show clothing correctly.
You show obvious traces of both exaggerating but hiding the female form but simultaneously you’ve stripped it back with the use of thongs, semi translucent fabrics and meticulously defined laser cutting, what has your approach been to the female body in regards to this?”¨
I believe the woman’s body is nature’s greatest wonder. I try to reveal it and expose it in a sublime manner, but clearly, revealing also comes with covering. You say exaggerating the body but I would rather define it as Â«framingÂ» the body. In some of the most sculptural pieces I dug holes and vortexes to underline the bodie’s negative spaces, going back to the emptiness of my woman’s soul.”¨I like to sexualise the woman I dress because I believe her femininity and violent sensuality is what led her to the top. Mixing sexuality and elegance is the greatest challenge to me. Right after this comes mixing ornementation and minimalism, which I also attempted to do in this collection with the hand-cut organic glossy facets, for instance.
Why have you worked primarily with monochromatic colours?”¨
I have worked with a very reduced color palette to be able to emphasize on shapes and discrete textures. I believe that overusing color is a seductive smokescreen, often hiding a lack of design strenght. Also, as Gerhard Richter theorized, I believe that gray is the color of nothingness, the absence of feeling, vacuum. Its also the color of the city, and i wanted a very discrete urban aspect to the collection. I want my woman to melt in concrete and liquidate, which I why I used different grays as the base of my color palette. Of course i used a lot of black and white for the violent contrast and sharp graphics, but only to make the pristine white shine brighter, like the light at the end of the tunnel, if you will..!
”¨”¨”¨Can you explain to us your shoes? They are totally fascinating in the way in which they are as elegant as they are harsh. What was the idea behind them?
As for the shoes, they are still based on that exploration (obsession) of absence of feelings and vacuum, emptiness of the soul of both myself and the woman I designed around, I ended up being interested in this disease called Ostheoporosis. With age, the women’s bones get less and less dense of matter, causing more risks of fracture. I found this idea of women becoming more and more empty throughout life was very poetic. ”¨During this whole research process, roadwork right by my window might have subconsciously inspired me… cranes especially.”¨From there I designed a very sculptural shoe, trying to gather all those ideas in one single item, resulting in this organic-mechanic osmosis, based on a classic formal stiletto but mutating it into a gravity-defying pedestal, both delicate and menacing.”¨I also knew from experience that a strong shoe is what will make a student’s collection noticed in the first place… Its like a gateway to people’s memory!
And finally, what’s next for you?
Now my only occupation is preparing a coherent portfolio and start presenting it to anyone who will show interest. I will also keep on promoting the collection and try to make the Liquidation Totale last a little while longer…
Look book Photographer: Michael Smits