In the short span of 10 days, Charles de Vilmorin designed his Spring-Summer 2022 Haute Couture collection. His precocious talent belies his 24 years, and the outcome is replete with full-fledged ideas and fizzing with creativity.
The French wunderkind recently appointed creative director at Rochas, and guest designer at the Haute Couture shows, mined classical music and cinema for inspiration. Among his primary references: La danse macabre, composer Camille Saint-Säens’ 19th-century masterpiece, and the gothic oeuvre of filmmaker Tim Burton.
In stark contrast to his previous turn dominated by black, and despite a continuing sense of gloom, de Vilmorin arrived at a panoply of colour, print, and texture. With his signature illustrations decorating garments, the collection recalls the joyousness of his debut last January. Consistent with his transportive references, the silhouette is capacious and grand, matching the energy of his palette, and the theatrical hairstyling.
Over Zoom from his Paris studio, where he was applying finishing touches to the collection, de Vilmorin shared, “I think Haute Couture is the best part of fashion for selling the dream.”
How would you describe this collection?
It’s musical, theatrical, and mysterious. I made the collection by myself in a short time and I also organised the film at the same time. It’s a spontaneous collection. Everything is very personal. The collection will be presented with a film which is about a boy who, at night, starts designing couture dresses for the skeletons that live in his room.
Did you always dream of becoming a fashion designer?
When I was a child, I wanted to become a director for theatre because I love to play with music, with light, with clothes, with decor… and it’s when I grew up a bit that I discovered fashion was something I preferred. I think it clicked when I was 10, and maybe before it was a bit more blurred because I always loved all these theatrical and magical aspects of art, fashion, theatre, cinema etc. But it’s become more precise.
Why do you think people dream about working in fashion?
I think the world of fashion is quite inaccessible because it’s full of creativity, it’s magical, there are beautiful clothes. Everything is about dreams and poetry. So for some people, it’s like they feel they can never really be part of this world. But I don’t agree with that. I think everybody can come into this world and be accepted.
Are you a dreamer?
Of course! Maybe too much sometimes. I dream every day, every night and it’s important for me because I think it’s a source of inspiration. During your dreams, when you think about collection and projects, is when all your inspirations take life and become real. I dream about the stories I want to tell. For example, this collection is something that I imagined at night, and now it takes life.
Who inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from different types of people. This season, I was inspired by the world of Tim Burton and the music of Saint-Säens. Kind of strange but dreamlike references to death, life, invasion. It’s this mix of things that I love in art. Of course, as well, I’m very inspired by my friends and the people who are close to me. For this project, all the people in the video are my friends.
How much of Haute Couture is about selling dreams?
It definitely has different goals to ready-to-wear. Of course, it’s more about experimentation and art. We have fewer commercial and financial aspects to consider than in ready-to-wear. We are freer in Haute Couture, and you can really say what you want to say and tell some stories more easily. The goal of Haute Couture is to create the dream.
Do you think it’s possible that Haute Couture can help us make sense of reality?
I think it depends on the brand or designer. In couture, we can see very dreamlike collections with a lot of artistic references, stories, or poetry. But, for example, I think Viktor & Rolf make couture in a real way for them, expressing their ideas and opinions with a strong political message. This is the richness of couture: you can send strong messages with your collections and clothes and it’s super important.
Do you have a dream that remains unfulfilled?
One of my biggest dreams is to make the clothes for the Paris Opera Ballet.