Getting an interview with your favourite designer is every girl’s dream. But when your favourite designer is one of the busiest and hard working men in fashion then things can get tricky. I wasn’t going to let it defeat my rock and roll dream chasing edge so took my chances and made it happen. I finally managed to chat to Christian Blanken on hisdesigns, his brand, SS12 collection and most important of all, the brain food for every Dream chaser; motivation, inspiration and purposefulness.
Q: YOU STARTED OUT DESIGNING FOR NOTED FASHION DESIGNERS SUCH AS MICHAEL KORS AND DIANE VON FURSTENBERG AND WENT ON TO START YOUR OWN LABEL. WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO TURN YOUR FASHION DESIGNING DREAMS INTO REALITY?
A: My mother died unexpectedly and suddenly when I was a teenager. This impacted me massively in the sense that I always felt that she maybe would have liked to realise a few of her dreams and never got the chance to do it. I’m perhaps more aware than most people that life is quite fleeting, time is short and if you want to achieve your DREAMS, you better get out there and do it.
Q: HOW DOES YOUR DESIGN PROCESS WORK?
A: I’m very traditional, I start with fabrics, usually at fabric fairs in Milan and Paris, then colour, then sketch up ideas and put everything into a context or visualise a muse. This season it was Terry Toye the transgendered model who was Stephen Sprouses muse in the mid to late 80s.
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS ENTHUSIASM, MOTIVATION AND INSPIRATION FOR A FASHION DESIGNER?
A: All three are indispensable as it is a very tough industry. You are going to encounter obstacles and failures and you have to overcome them on a continuous basis.
Q: WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
A: This changes every season but I tend to like interesting rather than beautiful women or women with a very good sense of style. It ranges from models like Erin Wasson or musicians like Alison Mosshart or Courtney Love to incredibly smart women like Hillary Clinton or Christine Lagarde of the IMF. Growth and ongoing success is what motivates me on a day to day basis.
Q: TELL ME ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR RECENT SPRING SUMMER 2012 COLLECTION?
A: SS12 was very much about very high gloss, very luxe and reflective eye-catching fashion, hence the mirrors, metallic leathers, fabrics, very polished make up and nails etc. The original inspiration was the so called Swans who were a group of very wealthy socialites that hung around the author Truman Capote and were obsessed with their wardrobes and clothing.
Q: DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THAT YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE WOULD BE TO DESIGN SHARP, GLAMOROUS, LUXURIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL CLOTHING FOR THE MODERN WOMAN?
A: Haha, no originally I was going to be a painter but when I was doing the course I thought fashion would be more interesting as it would cast a wider net and have more of an impact. Art is quite elitist whereas fashion is in actuality more democratic and therefore, to me at least, more interesting.
Q: YOU ARE STARTING TO GET SUPER FAMOUS. DOES THE IDEA OF BEING SUPER FAMOUS EXCITE YOU?
A: I don’t look at it that way. My day to day life is actually about hard graft and being a designer can also be somewhat repetitive as your whole life is lived in seasonal cycles, I know six months ahead of time what I will be doing or where I will be in a professional capacity but yes, to an outsider my life can look exciting I guess.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR YOUR BRAND?
A: Growth as always, a retail store along with a menswear launch in June during LFW are the big projects. I am also working with Bloomsbury Publishers on the release of a coffee table book tentatively called ‘Decades, an Anthology of Sportswear’ as it’s a subject I’m specialised in. I’m also doing some tutoring at the Royal College of Art which I’m really enjoying a lot.
Q: WHERE ARE CHRISTIAN BLANKEN DESIGNS STOCKED?
A: In the UK they can be found in Harrods, Knightsbridge. I.T, Hong Kong. Spiga 2, Milan, History*Mix, Japan or online at shop.christianblanken.co.uk.
Q: FINALLY, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE?
‘LIVE EACH DAY AS IF IT WERE YOUR LAST’. It’s probably not the most original quote but it’s always very powerful to me.
IMAGES COURTESY by Christian Blanken SS12
29 May 2012