Designer finds his inspiration in words and things

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Designer finds his inspiration in words and things

Q. How did you start your career as fashion designer?
A. I was 16 when I first got a job in a local department store in Brazil. My job was to decorate windows, and I was given more work to do in the store. By 18 I had a design company of my own.

In my family, there are three sons of which I’m the second. It was an usual career for a young man, but because I made a lot of money, my parents let me pursue the job. Then I had to decide if I wanted to be a serious designer, so I went to study in London. I was 22.

Where in Brazil are you from and do you get home very often?
I was born and raised in Belo Horizonte, the fourth largest city in Brazil. I go back to my hometown once a year. My mother, who passed away, was a house wife, and my father, before retirement, worked as a civil engineer. Both my mother and father come from large families with many siblings, so I have about 100 cousins. They have children, so when all of them get together, it’s a very large number of people. In my parents’ generation, having more than 10 siblings wasn’t common but it wasn’t rare either.

How did you get to speak French and English so well?
I pick up languages very quickly. In Brazil, we speak Portugese. I learned to speak Italian by just visiting the country for work. I studied French for two years in school, but since I work in Paris I get to speak the language. I speak English just by using it.

What is your role in the creative partnership you have with your wife?
When Susan comes up with an idea for the fashion collection, I’d go to my library and come up with five or six books or images on the subject. We also go through thousands of images and looks in the Cacharel archive. In our teamwork, it is me who does the research.
They say ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ but I’d say ‘Ignorance is boring.’ Knowledge makes our life so much more interesting and rich. I read voraciously and I love to read reviews in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. When I’m in London, I pay a visit to bookstores regularly so I can find some interesting books. It’s nice if someone recommends a book to me but also I enjoy the kind of knowledge that I stumble upon by sheer fortune. And I love to buy books that are out-of-print; to buy rare books I look up Abebooks online. In my home I have a huge library of books, from which I find plenty of inspiration and ideas.

What books have you found interesting lately?
I’ve recently read “The Beautiful Fall” by Alicia Drake. It’s a badly edited book, and I don’t understand why the author wrote so many chapters just on the 1970s. But on the whole I’m impressed with the tremendous amount of materials the author collected. The book is now banned in Paris because Karl Lagerfeld protested the sales of the book that defames his life. The book calls him a liar of all things he told journalists. The book has a lot of my hand-written notes all over.
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