To Alexandre Mattiussi, creator of AMI, “fashion is above all a commercial vocation”
Numéro met up with Alexandre Mattiussi, the warm and open designer behind the AMI label.
In 2011 Alexandre Mattiussi launched his menswear label AMI. Right from the off he used social networks to cultivate an image of a designer open to all, and it instantly seduced everyone. In no time at all his timeless and laid-back designs were being distributed by Barneys, Le Bon Marché and Corso Como. Numéro met up with this young and very friendly designer.
Numéro: Five years after establishing AMI, you already have a 100 or so sales points around the world as well as several boutiques of your own, how do you explain your success?
Alexandre Mattiussi: We developed a stylistic proposal that was original. It’s articulated around the idea of a wardrobe with pieces being renewed season after season. Even if I fancy changing shapes, fabrics and colours, there’s always this guideline, this common theme. AMI’s personality, our positive energy and our authenticity convinced our clients. Some of them have been with us since the very first season. Ultimately what differentiates two apparently identical white shirts is the image and values of the brand.
How exactly do you cultivate your authenticity?
We recruit our models using street castings. We need a particular profile, real personalities; we like to have reality and diversity on the runway. When it’s the show, we completely deconstruct the collection to recreate the looks on the models according to their personality and their character. At the beginning when I draw designs, even if I’m telling a global story, I conceive every piece so that it can exist by itself and so that every individual can appropriate it for themselves.
You very much link the image of AMI to a Parisian style; do you think that partly explains your success?
Abroad, AMI does reflect something that’s very Parisian with a nonchalant elegance and I’ve always emphasised the fact the brand is imagined and conceived in Paris. I’ve been living here for 20 years and this town inspires me and influences me with its unique energy and conviviality. The café terraces, cocktail hour, going out or going to the market, it’s something extraordinary that can’t be found anywhere else.
The relationship we have with clothing seems to be an important value at AMI.
Beneath the sequins and the glamour, fashion is above a commercial vocation. In the boutique, this intimate relationship that develops between the client and the garment is unique and doesn’t exist on the runway. My responsibility as a designer is to offer clothing that’s destined to be really worn. People tell me about memories they have linked to my clothes, a first interview, a wedding, a date. When I hear that I really feel my mission has been accomplished.
In your eyes, is men’s fashion different to women’s fashion?
In men’s fashion, the client is less informed, and his connection with the garment starts in the changing room. That’s why I don’t believe in conceptual fashion but in ready-to-wear. For men you have to conserve this notion of a wardrobe built around timeless pieces. Ultimately I can only create by thinking that someone will wear the clothes, will love and appropriate them. For the fall-winter 2016-2017 collection, I wanted sequins but I wanted to treat them in a way that was very simple, poetic and above all wearable. Following this evening theme, the sequin imposed itself as an essential element, very Parisian with a disco jazzy side.
And yet you show increasingly feminine silhouettes?
I’m surrounded by so many girls, the idea of including feminine silhouettes in my runway show just happened naturally. Caroline de Maigret was the first, then for subsequent collections I asked Audrey Marnay, Lolita Jacob and Anna Cleveland to join the casting.
But AMI is primarily a men’s label. It’s just women wearing menswear. For the fall-winter 2016-2017 show I wanted to do ‘oversized’, very much with this idea in mind of my female friends stealing their boyfriend’s clothes and deliberately not adapting the cut.
You often say you’re inspired by your friends and your entourage. How does this idea manifest in your collections?
The starting point of a collection is always the runway show that I construct like a little film: in what situation do I want to see this gang of male and female friends evolve? My inspiration comes ultimately from real life stories and what’s happening every day: in the streets, at the airport, the market and for my last show, the night time complete with its sunrise. Once this scenario is sorted, I create the collection then I chose the models and the music…
Interview by Léa Zetlaoui
Photographer: Lonneke van der Palen. Realisation: Camille-Joséphine Teisseire. Model: Jean Lemersre from Bananas Models. Haircut: Taan Doan from L’Atelier(68).
Make-up: Laurence Maestrello from Label Agence. Production: Florence Moll. Many thanks to the Studio des Acacias.
Sequins embroidered coat, alpaca jumper and wool trousers, AMI.