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With the experiences of Cloak (and partner Robert Geller) and Versace creating a solid foundation for his latest endeavor, Gilt MANual‘s Andy Comer caught up with Russian-born American designer Alexandre Plokhov prior to his upcoming showing in Paris. Among the topics featured within the interview are talk of his development at the hands of both Cloak and Versace, the basis for his new line, and other aspects of his life. Excerpts of the interview can be seen below with a full viewing available here.
Your presentation in Paris is the first time the public will see your new clothes in person. Anything you can preview for us?
We rented a nice little gallery near Place des Vosges, a beautiful white space in an old building, through an alley. Semi-secret, which is always attractive to me. [laughs] It’s sectioned off into three areas. In one area will be clothes; in the second area will be portraits of the collection by photographer Alex Freund; and then there’s a dark room, where a video I did with Doug Keeve will be projected. It’s a different way to take you through the experience. And you can touch the clothes, and try them on, and all that stuff. Because a fashion show is a very different kind of experience; it’s such a specific, short-lived exercise. It feels very temporary to me know, like a burst and then it’s over. I like to savor things a little right now, and get up close, and really show things, and have people touch fabrics. More personal, less glam.
So is Paris your place?
I never say no to anything. Right now, yes. But I love New York, too. I live here, and would like to continue living here. It’s just from a commercial standpoint, selling menswear out of New York is very difficult, and fraught with delays and just the secondary nature of menswear, as it relates to the women’s business. I think in Paris it’s taken differently. Creativity in menswear is appreciated and proudly exhibited.
What inspired your new line?
I was looking at industrial photography, and these abandoned buildings and abandoned machinery—fly wheels, hoists, cranes, things like that. And I tried to imagine the people who worked there, and what kinds of things they would wear.
Your Russian upbringing factors into this somewhat, then…
Possibly, because both my mother and my father went to work every day. They worked in a factory—my mother as a fashion designer, my dad making furniture. And it was cold. So things had to be sturdy.
You’re making an ambitious move, striking out on your own. What prompted it?
I just think it’s the right time. People are more open to ideas and expressing yourself through menswear. Pretty much at this point we’re sick of this force-fed preppyism, especially in American menswear. And I think there’s a whole new generation of consumers who are ready to dress…I don’t want to say outrageously, but in more interesting ways. You know, not particularly classic. I’m not saying there was a void in the market. I just felt that nobody’s been doing what Cloak was doing. But I didn’t just want to re-do old things. I wanted to incorporate what I’ve learned and move forward. But Cloak is definitely the foundation of what I’m trying to do.
Do you feel we’re reaching a defining moment in menswear?
I think there’s a seismic change coming. I don’t quite know what it is. I think there are lots of interesting things coming out of Paris, with skirts and things being wrapped, and craftsmanship yet deconstruction at the same time. I think it’s quite fascinating—there a sort of new primitivism, but there’s also a search for the old tradition, the old techniques.