Rough at the edges – New Waves: Pierre Campo
For a guy who never really planned to study fashion, Pierre Campo is doing a pretty swell job at creating menswear, and even got nine sponsors on board to help him realise his final collection. Attracted by the realistic approach of his male-oriented discipline, he has designed down-to-earth clothes whose finishings are raw, yet the fabrics are incredibly luxurious and unique— much influenced by his experiences working for Hèrmes and Christian Dior. Keeping “as long as you have a piece of fabric you can start a garment” in mind as a design ethos, we unravel the story behind the collection that closed his CSM oevre, filled with floating sleeves, unstitched top collars, and discontinuous embroideries.
Where were you born and raised, and what led you to take an interest in fashion?
I was born in the south of France, we lived in Paris for a while but when I was 4 years old we moved permanently to the south of France, in a small town between Nîmes and Montpellier. It’s a nice place when you are a child but as I grew up I always wanted to move to a city like Paris that offers great cultural stimulation, which I did just after I finished high school. I never really planned to do fashion, in high school I was determined to study architecture. It was only while I was doing my foundation course, where I did a bit of everything, that fashion came as an evident choice. I really like the independence that you have when you do fashion design. As long as you have a piece of fabric you can start a garment.
Was menswear always the goal for you?
Menswear was a spontaneous choice that I made when I came to CSM, after a two year course [in France] where I did womenswear. I think that I am attracted by the realistic approach of menswear and at the same time by the fact that boundaries can be pushed.
What attracts you to tailoring? How do you approach such a way of designing that requires so much skill?
I have always been attracted to pattern cutting and draping, and for me the final collection was the last moment where I could enjoy it. The tailoring part of the collection comes from the classic wardrobe that I wanted to explore and rethink.
I often designed with fabric manipulation on the stand, most of the time without knowing what the final result would be, or how to achieve it when I will have to do the patterns and repeat it. I like to have some surprises and it is a part of the process for me. I also draw, but with a drawing you have something quite definitive. Whereas with a piece of fabric you never know what it will be and you discover new things, unexpected shapes.
“WHEN I WAS INTERNING IN THOSE FASHION HOUSES I BECAME MORE AWARE OF “REAL CLOTHES”. I LEARNT HOW TO DESIGN A GARMENT AND TO THINK ABOUT EVERY SINGLE DETAIL, FROM THE CHOICE OF THE RIGHT FABRIC TO THE DESIGN OF THE PULLER FOR THE ZIPPER.”
You seem to take a strong interest in both men’s and women’s tailoring. How are they different, if they differ at all?
I looked a lot at both men’s and women’s tailoring but especially women’s couture from the 40’s and 50’s. The way the garments were cut and constructed has always been a great source of admiration and inspiration for me. There were also great volumes that I wanted to bring into menswear. The essence of the clothes back then was all about the cut, it was an elaborated simplicity that I found appealing. The clothes had a certain volume due to the patterns and I wanted to use some of these elements on classic pieces. Like cutting the back and the sleeve in one piece of fabric which created unexpected shapes and movements.
Were those interests nourished during your internships at Hermes, agnès b and Christian Dior?
Those interests have always been there, when I look back at my work I realize now that I was already exploring this aesthetic. But when I was interning in those fashion houses I became more aware of “real clothes”. I learnt how to design a garment and to think about every single detail, from the choice of the right fabric to the design of the puller for the zipper. Moreover those experiences made me more demanding regarding my way of working, and it has pushed me to achieve the collection the best way I could. As I was surrounded by people who were doing their best at every stage, I became more exigent and I wanted to work in the most professional way.
But as I was working there I also quickly realised that I was missing the freedom of doing whatever seems interesting to me, and that I would miss that in the future when I will be working as a designer. So I just did whatever I wanted for the final collection, enjoying it from A to Z.
“POCKETS ARE NOT COMPLETELY ATTACHED, SEAMS AND SLEEVES ARE FLOATING, TOPSTITCHES, PRINTS AND EMBROIDERIES ARE DISCONTINUOUS, TOP COLLARS ARE NOT ENTIRELY STITCHED.”
Tell me about your graduate collection. Was there a specific story you wanted to tell?
The collection is led by the idea of “capturing a moment”, exploring the idea of ‘under construction’, unfinished and floating. Like a photograph, the pieces evoke an instant, a stage of the creative and making process. It refers to the research during a fitting, where elements are not properly finished, simply pinned or suspended. The shape of the garment is determined but still has an uncertain look with undone details. Pockets are not completely attached, seams and sleeves are floating, topstitches, prints and embroideries are discontinuous, top collars are not entirely stitched. It gives an unfinished look to the pieces, a mix of rawness and sophistication.
For the materials, I thought about the design, fabrication, and the fabric at the same time, so that the fabric choice highlights the shape and details in the best way. I used high quality fabrics, mainly from Italy and France, with raw finishings to break from their luxurious aspects. I wanted to use good quality fabrics, that you can not find everywhere, especially after my experience at Dior and Hermès where I had seen so many great samples. So I contacted some fabrics suppliers for sponsorship and few of them said yes. In total I had 9 sponsors and I am extremely grateful to them because I would not have been able to achieve this collection like that without their material support.
Do you see yourself starting your own brand? Or joining a label? Where would you like to take your practice?
For now I would like to join a label to get some experience as a designer, to learn as much as I can, and to challenge myself to design clothes within a particular context and aesthetic. A few weeks ago I started to work in the menswear studio of a label whose work I really admire. So it is very positive and I am really happy to start my professional life this way. And maybe someday, if I have the financial resources I might consider to start something on my own or with someone, because I think I might miss the creative freedom.
All images courtesy of Pierre Campo