Why fashion isn’t art, and vice versa

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Why fashion isn’t art, and vice versa

The creative director Gotscho’s perfectly sculpted body is covered with a black Armani T-shirt, cargo pants and Tod’s black driving shoes, his penetrating blue eyes behind a pair of black-and-yellow Alain Mikli glasses. He plans to work on his next project with Japan’s “big” four designers: Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Junya Watanabe. That exhibition will kick off in Nice and then travel to New York and Japan. During his visit to Korea, the IHT-JoongAng Daily spoke with Gotscho about his conceptual art.

How can you “disappear” with a body like that?
No, I can’t disappear with this body. I’ve been working out for the past 25 years. I began once a week, then I became addicted to it. Now I work out every day. I focus on different groups of muscles every time. One day it could be shoulders, and then on another day pectorals. I watch what I eat, protein drinks and all the rest, to sculpt the body. When I use the photo of my muscular body with extremely feminine garments, it’s a contrast.

How did you become involved in the fashion industry?
I began working as an assistant in the Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy fashion houses. I’d come up with new ideas and do the sketches, then either they were never used, or if used, they would be used under the designer’s name. I would design, sew and fit the dress on a woman. She’d wear it once, maybe twice, and then toss it out. The dress that had countless hours of effort gets tossed out! To me it’s like seeing the spirit leave the body. I didn’t like that, and I didn’t want to work as a fashion designer.
I was very conscious of that situation and wanted to point that out and talk to people about it. The 1997 project I did for Christian Dior captures the forgotten dress on a chair. Beautiful clothes left on the floor, on the bed, left in different places after they are worn. I’ve worked on conceptual projects in the fashion industry.

What is fashion to you?
I love working with fashion designers. Because I come from the same background, designers respect my work because I know what kind of work they do. I can really understand where they come from.
When a fashion designer makes a dress, of course he tries to be creative and artistic and all that, but underneath it all is the idea of selling it. Fashion is commercial, and there’s an enormous power surrounding it. You see a well-dressed woman wearing luxury brand names, Chanel, Prada, Armani, etc. These brands have such an empowering role in people’s lives these days that everyone worries about what to wear. The minute you wear a certain brand name, you feel that you are something different. When you’re creating that appearance, your real self disappears.

Does that apply to everyone?
You can use that appearance as a joke. You’re not all that vain, but you can look like brand-conscious person.

Can art and fashion ever meet in peace?
Art and fashion will never fuse. Fashion photography has a set form. There’s a photographer, there’s a model and a situation. I wanted to show people that fashion photography can exist in a completely different, free form. Instead of clothes being shot by the photographer and put inside the frame of the photograph, it is worn over the photograph. I asked a number of fashion designers to work on the project together. Some refused while others agreed. But then again, fashion designers have rigorously strict rules in their way of working. If you try to fuse pure art and fashion, which is commercial, there are always problems. My job as a creative director is to solve them.

You’ve also worked with Japanese designers in the past. How did they influence you?
I remember when Japanese designers did fashion shows in Paris and how they shocked the French fashion industry. I think Asians, or Japanese, see the human body differently from the way we do. The way they saw the body was expressed through their clothes; each part of the body was separated and interpreted differently. They showed how designers could liberate their way of thinking, be creative in the truest sense. I think that from the Japanese, we French people learned how to be free, how to liberate ourselves. Now we see John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld show incredibly creative works that are completely free. Those Japanese designers had definitely influenced them, and without them, the French designers couldn’t have been that free and liberated.

by Ines Cho
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