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“I feel close to the young art scene in New York and LA.” Meet David Obadia, designer at Harmony and nominee for ANDAM

 

Nominated for the First Collection prize at ANDAM, the young label Harmony has, in just a few months, made an impression with its minimalist style aligning luxurious materials with impeccable cuts.

David Obadia, known in the streetwear world as assistant to Stéphane Ashpool at Pigalle and co-founder of the flourishing label Brooklyn We Go Hard, dreamt of a garment where volume, material and colour would fuse in perfect equilibrium. Focusing on this idea of beauty and comfort, he conceived what would become, in 2014, his new brand, Harmony.

 

This hunger for an ideal wardrobe, combined with a remarkable sense of marketing has propelled the self-taught designer to the gates of success. Inspired as much by modern and contemporary art as by literature, movies, dance and music, his collections exude a radicalism reminiscent of the Belgian fashion wave of the 1990s.

 

Nominated at ANDAM for the First Collections prize, David Obadia's vivacity and sensitivity render him one of the most promising designers of his generation.

 

The spring-summer 2016 collection is inspired by the French-Italian movie Purple Noon with Maurice Ronet and Alain Delon.

 

 

Numéro: You did have a streetwear brand for men and now today you’re offering contemporary fashion for men and women, what happened?

David Obadia: The more time went by, the less I recognised myself in Brooklyn We Go Hard, and I wanted to start creating a more mature and fashion aware clothing line. I set up BWGH after having worked with Stéphane Ashpool, founder of Pigalle, and I really admired the energy in the streetwear world. However a brand can't evolve as quickly as its designer, and rather than try to modify the BWGH concept I decided to propose something more in line with my vision of fashion. When I started thinking about the concept, I was with a girl who inspired me a lot and I wanted to create clothes for her. Harmony was going to be a brand for men and women too. 

 

At the launch of Harmony in 2014, the brand’s identity had already been well established, had you thought long and hard about the concept?

One of my goals with Harmony is to dress the largest number of people possible and, right from off, I wanted to impose a strong and recognisable identity, a collection with a wide range, and make it good in terms of quality and price. I advocate a very strict, cold fashion, but one that’s sensual too, inspired by designers like Jil Sander and Helmut Lang. I thought of Harmony as a good quality yet global ready-to-wear brand. So it was vital that right from the first collection, it emitted a strong identity that made its mark while laying a solid foundation for an aesthetic that could evolve with time.

 

What do you mean by a global brand?

I want my clients to fully adhere to the Harmony spirit, for this label to not just be about clothes, but for it to become a lifestyle too. Armani and Ralph Lauren started with clothes and have extended their worlds into the art of living, and I'd like the same thing to happen with Harmony. 

Would you say your social network community helped launch Harmony?

Having this community is an extraordinary advantage. When I post a photo, there is such major feedback, and that undoubtedly helped the brand at its launch. Having said that this community is essentially masculine, and I’m hoping to put women at the heart of this project. So I’ve set up a new one, without forgetting the former aficionados.

 

What inspires you in the definition of your minimalist silhouettes?

The Parisian attitude with that studied air of nonchalance, a certain arrogance and innate elegance really sits at the heart of my collections. Contemporary art has also always been part of my life, and today I’m looking to give my clothes an artistic vision. I spend a lot of time in galleries and the colour and texture of painting often inspires me. I then transcribe touches of that in the collections. At Harmony, every detail counts. 

The fall-winter 2016-2017 collection Amour Anarchie reinterprets Léo Ferré’s cult song.

 

 

Are you planning on promoting artists the same way as you did with BWHG?

That’s still very important to me. A brand should be a vector of communication for creativity. I feel very close to the young art scene in New York and LA who use colours very intensively, and I really support Landon Metz, Israel Lund and Lucien Smith in particular. Furthermore, in our boutique we sell the work of artists we like and want to support. Harmony is currently working on a project to promote artists; this is pretty innovative given our positioning.

 

Today, the women’s ready-to-wear industry is saturated with proposals, what do you do to stand out?

The power of Harmony is to propose a minimalist wardrobe with extremely luxurious materials, impeccable cuts at a good price. I want my collections to be beautiful and simple, but not simplistic. I remove all superfluous detail of the garments and keep just its purest shape: when made from beautiful double-sided cashmere or a satin backed crepe, with the right volume, a pair of trousers can be stunning. Colour work is just as essential. Generally we develop a very wide range of colours built around carbon black and midnight blue, and then we add really bright and tangy colours to light up the collection.

 

Are you not worried that this price positioning affects the luxury image of the brand?

I like creating clothes in the most artistic way possible but behind all that there’s a commercial reality: the client has to be able to afford it. I realised that when I was making very expensive pieces they just weren’t selling. Even though lower prices in the minds of fashion people can affect the image of the brand, I believe that offering a product at the right price with the best quality possible is paramount. 

 

www.harmony.com

 

Interview by Léa Zetlaoui

Harmony’s first fall-winter 2014 collection, starring dancers Daniel Norgran-Jensen and Mia Helje from the Royal Swedish Ballet.
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