Interview: Pierre Renaux - Antwerp Royal Academy Of Fine Arts' Fashion Department
His collection ‘Liquidation Totale’ won him the Coccodrillo award for shoe design and the Antwerp ModeMuseum MoMu award placing his collection on display in the museum (shown until August 11th). As if it’s not enough, Pierre along with 2 other graduates has chosen by Ann Demeulemeester for her upcoming exhibition in Brussels. “I chose Pierre because it was a work clearly based on cuts,” commented Ann Demeulemeester on i-D magazine. “I also chose the work of Jezabelle (Cormio) and Jack (Davey). It was funky, outside the fashion system itself. But Pierre made something almost architectural. It is rare to see students work on cuts nowadays, you know, it is not about decoration, like a race for how many ribbons you manage to apply on the piece, but it is about the structure itself, which is actually very much what I am doing.” Pierre also interned and worked for Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and Mugler.
Firstly, congratulation for your graduation and the awards that comes within! Let’s introduce you first. Tell us about you and the life at the academy
I’m a nobody from a very small city in france, i do not have any affiliation with fashion whatsoever except an unexplainable fascination for the female body. Right after high-school i decided to try the Antwerp Academy because it was public (tuition fees are reasonable) and the entrance-exam process made a lot of sense to me (for a few days the tutors get to know you, and you work on site on different things that will decide your potential acceptance).
What has been the biggest difficulty so far?
My biggest difficulty but also my biggest challenge at the Academy was definitely understanding the garments and techniques, since i have absolutely no technical background. The second most difficult thing was seeing some very talented students fail, and some very untalented students succeed cum laude. Making compromises about my creations was also a very big issue as an over-confident 18 years old.
Now tell us about your collection “Liquidation Totale”. I love the way it has an innovative sensibility.
My collection LIQUIDATION TOTALE is the conclusive act of a triptych i initiated in second year with my first collection MODE SANS ECHEC, followed by TOUT DOIT DISPARAITRE.
Those titles are both puns and nihilistic statements that, once translated, give FASHION WITHOUT FAIL, EVERYTHING MUST DISAPPEAR, and TOTAL LIQUIDATION.
Liquidation Totale is what is written on french shop windows right before their definitive closure, but i always saw it as a kind of threatening message: “hurry up before it’s too late.” or “we had enough” I use those titles to convey my boredom with fashion and my inherent desire for change.
After taking one year off between third and fourth year, that i used to gain momentum, inspiration, energy and real-life experience, the reality check was quite violent.
I worked as an intern at Mugler, and soon realised that the master collection i would produce in fourth year would probably be my last, at least the last one where i have complete creative control.
Starting from there i developped my atmosphere around a Business Woman at the summit, losing everything. This woman embodies this fake designer brand i invented for myself: “PR” (Pierre Renaux), shutting down, or failing.
This collection is very much about death and rebirth, reaching the top (the master year) and then falling down (going back next year to do photocopies and make coffees as an intern).
To translate this idea of derelicteness of my made-up brand, i thought interesting to design garments in the process of breaking, mutating around the body, shattering like glass, growing like micro organisms, in perpetual dynamism.
I’m utterly in love with the 3D printed shoe! It has a futuristic quality i think. Tell us more about it.
The 3D printed shoes are a declination of that concept, i wanted the heel to look like it mutated around the ankle, starting from a classic elegant formal working girl’s stiletto and making it spectacular and dynamic. I researched a lot around the idea of emptiness, since i wanted to work around a woman who felt nothing at all, that was at peace with the state of things self-destructing around her.
My researches led me to this disease called Ostheoporosis:the bones of aging women get less and less dense with time, and i found very poetic the idea that women get emptier and emptier with time.
This is why the design is between full and empty, with holes, in between a bone or a machine.
Also, i knew that impressive shoes would make my collection noticed.
You went with a lot of awards a few days ago and being selected to be in the exhibition in Brussels curated by Ann Demeulemeester along with 2 other graduates. How do you feel?
I feel happy that my collection struck a chord in other people’s sensitivity. I hope some other people might have been inspired by it. Im especially glad that Ann Demeulemeester noticed and saluted my extensive work on cut and the architectural aspect of my garments, which was really a challenge for me this year. I feel happy but i know that all of this is temporary.
Now that you have graduated, what’s next for you?what are you doing now and is there any current project you’re working on?
This summer i will produce a coherent and professionnal portfolio and start presenting it to whoever will be interested.
What do you think of fashion right now? I think the industry has become a lot more “instant” and more market-oriented. We see the departure of some great designers like Ghesquiere, Galliano, McQueen has a lot to do with that, Ghesquiere said it himself.
The fashion system is reaching a lightspeed breaking point and is about to collapse onto itself. I think that’s also inspiring.
3 people in fashion that inspires you the most?
I do not wish to name people in fashion that inspire me, i think my aesthetic and inspirations in term of femininity and violent sensuality are quite obvious already, and looking up to specific people in the same discipline as yours can be castrative and therefore sterile.
Finally, what would your biggest hope FOR and IN the fashion industry be?
My biggest hope in the fashion industry would be the total and complete forsakening of vintage.