I Love Belgium interviews Laurent Dombrowicz
A slogan for a popular Belgian jobpaper once was "one day you'll find the job of your life, and than you're off". And that's what Laurent Dombrowicz did. Laurent, a Liège native, graduated from INSAS (University for Theater and Film Industry, Brussels) as film director in 1987. ILOVEBELGIUM
He has started his career in fashion at the age of 23 as fashion director of the main weekly Belgian lifestyle magazine Le Vif Weekend. Between 1989 and 1997, when Belgium was becoming too small for him, he worked as stylist, for several publications in Europe, such as Euroman, Squeeze, Attitude and the iconic french kingsized Jardin Des Modes.
He focused his work on the tension between art and fashion, using on a regular basis his knowledge of the film history. Discovering and highlighting new talents becomes soon his first priority. He co-founded and managed the company of Olivier Theyskens, his former assistant. More recently, he has worked as consultant for the catalan and flamboyant José Castro and and his newest challenge is styling for the wonderkid from India, Manish Arora. And between stylings, fashion shows and consulting sessions, he found some time to answer our (sometimes annoying) questions.
ILB - I just watched some new episodes of America's Next Top Model. Do you watch this kind of reality shows?
I don't give a sh*t
ILB - You have been living for several years in Paris now. Do you feel 'Parisien' nowadays or do you stay a Belgian or a Liègois (Liège is the Belgian city where Laurent grew up)? Has your style changed since you moved to Paris?
I'll always be a Belgian, I will never be a 'Parisien'. My style...do you mean lifestyle or fashion style? But I want to point out one thing, I don't feel Liègeois. I've left that city in 1983 and I only talk about it with fellow-Liègois who also live in Paris like Natalia Brilli or Benoît Dely. When I come to Brussels, in general once every two months, I'm glad to find familiar faces and places but it's not my city anymore. In fact, I only feel 'at home' in my house in the Baie de Somme.
ILB - What are the big differences between French and Belgian fashion?
"Belgian fashion" doesn't exist. It's an illusion. And nobody will ever use that expression. There are some similarities between certain Belgian designers (A.F. Vandevorst and Maison Martin Margiela for example), but there is no Belgian 'fashion' nor 'style'.
ILB - What do you think of the Belgian wave in French fashion houses? Laetitia Crahay at Maison Michel, Kris Van Assche at Dior Homme,...
I wouldn't immediately talk about a 'wave'. Laetitia has been working for over 10 years at Chanel, Kris followed Hedi Slimane's creative career during several years before he became creative director at Dior Homme. I think it's normal there is one Belgian designer per year that succeeds. In the past there was a bigger Belgian (Antwerp) representation during the period of the Six of Antwerp, but times have changed.
ILB - Are there young Belgian or French designers that aren't known yet but where you think they will become big?
I believe in a handful young designers, but I never categorize them by nationality. And yes there are some Belgians and French in there. In France there are Alexandre Vauthier and Maxime Simoens, that's for sure. But you have also youngsters who studied in Paris like Tsolo Munkh who's from Mongolia. Unfortunately I didn't have the time this year to see the shows of La Cambre or the Royal Academy of Antwerp in June, so I'm not aware of any talent in the recent lot of graduates. I hear a lot about Jean-Paul Lespagnard but personally I haven't had a real 'click' seeing his creations. I like the work of Schipper/Arques, they're not Belgian at all but their environment (they live and work in Antwerp) seems to influence them. Indonesian Heaven Tanudiredja, who's also living in Antwerp will be big in the future for his accessory design. A very important and interesting sector nowadays.
ILB - A classical question you see in every women's magazine nowadays: what are the five trends for this Summer?
I'm already working with Winter (laughs) and in my works as a consultant I'm already working on Spring-Summer 2012 so for me, it's already the past, so I don't really have an opinion on that.
ILB - Macaroons of La Durée or a Liègois waffle? A cassoulet or des boulettes de chez Lequet?
I'm on a diet. Only reading those words made me gain 2 kilos.
ILB - And the final question, always the same: why do you love Belgium?
Because Belgium has no sense of pride, no presumptuousness, no history, we are NOTHING and just because we are NOTHING, we can create avec a certain serenity. The force of Belgium is not its unity (the Belgian national motto is Unity makes strenght), but its nihilism. There's only one country where the surrealism could have invented. And we're living it right now.
ILB - Thank you so much for these powerful words Laurent!