Dear Shaded Viewers,
photo by Laetitia Bica
If you click on archives for April you will be able to follow Jean-Paul Lespagnard’s Hyeres adventure. I never saw him not smiling even when he told me that he was very scared about the jury presentation. A funny thing happened when he went in to present to the jury, he had been totally prepared to speak in English when suddenly it all came out in French. Jean-Paul won both the 1,2,3 and the public prizes.
DP: Most of the designers came to the festival with one assistant or a team, why did you choose to do it alone?
JP: I finally decided to do it alone because usually I spend all of my time working with others. My last important experience alone was a trip to India 5 years ago. It was really nice to travel around on my scooter on my own, discovering new places and meeting new people. I have such good memories of it. I think you have more profound meetings with people when you’re alone. Hanging out and working at the villa with all the people involved whom I’ve never met before was a big part of the fun I had during the festival.
DP: How long did it take for you to be informed that you had been selected once that the decision had been taken?
JP: I think 4 or 5 days. I remember a friend calling me to tell me that there was a picture of my silhouette on your website.
I remember that I waited a bit. But I don’t remember how long it was.
DP: What were the high and low moments of the almost 2 weeks at the Villa?
JP: There are so many! I just have the feeling that I’ve been in a “buffet a volonte” of everything. It was a great atmosphere to work in – lots of laughter, gossip, friendly people, exchanging ideas, drinks. However, the food…that’s another story! He he…
The lowest point was Sunday morning when I realized that the whole experience was coming to an end. But this feeling disappeared immediately when I found out that I’d won the 123 prize. Because then I knew that I would have to go back next year to present a new collection, so I’ll be able to do it all again.
DP: I know that you went to school in Liege but did you also study in Antwerp?
JP: I studied art for 5 years at Saint Luc, in Liege, and then I took evening courses in fashion, also in Liege, but to answer your question, no, I’ve never studied in Antwerp, or even in Brussels. The evening classes were great because you were left to figure everything out for yourself, as is the case in real life, and you just met up with the teachers (who also worked in the professional world) once a month to show your ideas, or your work. We had to find most of our own contacts that were not necessarily in the fashion industry.
DP: Can you give me a little bit of your background and tell me how you first got interested in creating fashion?
JP: When I was a child, I wanted to sell ice cream in Summer and fish in the Winter. Then, somehow, I directly switched to fashion. My father was a truck driver, so I used to hang out a lot with him in his garage. While he was working, I used to make corsets that I cut out of inner tubes for my sisters. This is how I eventually developed a desire to be a designer.
photo by Laetitia Bica
My study process was:
Economic study for 3 years
Art for 5 years
Then fashion for 3 years
photo by Laetitia Bica
DP: How hard was it to get started in fashion?
JP: It wasn’t that difficult. I just did what I wanted to do. My sisters were great for that. They believed so much in me. Just following with the money was difficult. (here come the violins ha ha) This is why evening courses were perfect for me.
Working in daytime and the weekend and studying at night.
DP: What was the influence of your teacher, for instance the one that I met at the party?
JP: I have to say that I really don’t like the feeling of being taught. The best teachers I had were the ones who were acting like friends with me. Chatting outside of the room, talking about books and films I should see. I was spending most of my time in the library and talking with the other students during the time they were working. Then back after school in my place/my world I started working. I was always coming with a big surprise on the day we had to render our projects.
DP: Do you have any fashion icons?
JP: To mention a few, I like Jean-Charles de Castelbajac a lot, for his colours and his fun. Albert Elbaz for his cut. Anna Sui for her girly girly. Martin Margiela for his off-centre poetry.
I have to say, I am fascinated by the work of Paul Mc Carthy, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons also.
photo by Rene Habermacher
DP: How do you want people to feel in your clothes and do you have anyone in mind when you design them? Of course I know about Jacqueline…
JP: There is this hysterical character I