First of all, Atelier Caito for Herve Pierre is associated with the same dress Melania Trump, which she wore to the inaugural ball. On the one hand, the brand is a newcomer to the global fashion arena (it was launched in 2017), on the other hand, Pierre Herve and Nicolas Caito have known the industry for so long that it is hard to believe that launching their own project took them so long. The designers have worked in Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Balmain, Maison Martin Margiela and other large houses. Pierre Hervé was the creative director of Carolina Herrera for 15 years.
- How long have you known each other?
Pierre: We first met on September 11, 2001. Nicolas had flown to New York the day before for a work interview. I remember how I came to work to make sure everything was in order: everything was closed, and I had to get into the office, make sure that none of the employees lived in Manhattan, because it was impossible to get there. In short, the circumstances of the meeting were strange. But we have been working together for the last three years.
Nicolas: And to answer your question - we have known each other for 18 years.
- In design duets it is always difficult to evaluate the work of each of its participants: it is not always clear who is responsible for what. How are things with you?
Nicolas: We have a special union. Pierre is in charge of the design, all sketches and ideas are his, and I bring them to life, dress them in real form, add volume. Pierre works with a flat surface, while I work in 3D. Then we meet during the fitting and at this stage we begin to exchange thoughts, because Pierre understands the construction. Here there may already be some confusion in who is responsible for what, but still Pierre is a creative director, and I, rather, a technical one.
- Nicolas, Elle USA thinks you are the best constructor. Have you been awarded this status for your work at Atelier Caito for Herve Pierre or for your previous projects?
Nicolas: You know, when I first came into this field, I was 21 years old. And I started at the simplest school, from the very beginning. He was an intern, an apprentice, went through a lot of stages. At first he worked only with pockets, then skirts appeared, behind them - belts of skirts, hems of jackets. It took me eight years to learn how to work with all the elements. When I left Lanvin, I first of all decided to take stock and understand - who I am now, what I can do, because I worked with different masters and studied with many people. Perhaps this is the reason why I was awarded this status.
Pierre: It's like in the kitchen: you don't become a chef while serving water.
Pierre Herve © press service
- Together you have worked in many famous fashion houses, and you, Pierre, were the creative director of the Carolina Herrera brand for 15 years. What is more difficult, risky and more interesting - to be responsible for someone else's business or for your own business?
Pierre: Working in a large house like Carolina Herrera, Dior or Balmain is like being on a cruise ship: you can press a few buttons and the people below will put the mechanism into operation. And when you have your own business, it's practically the same as learning to row a boat with oars. In fact, you are still on water transport, but you have to start over, as if you have forgotten everything that you taught earlier: "Lord, do I have to carry out all these actions in order for the boat to float ?!" When you open your company, this is a much greater challenge, first of all to yourself. You still need to get from point A to point B, but the mode of transportation is different.
Nicolas: Besides, a big brand already has DNA and needs to find a way not to destroy the system, but at the same time try to bring something of its own. When you start a company, you create DNA from scratch, work out every step, every detail, ask everyone's opinion.
Pierre: Everything that we have learned in large companies - production, communication, strategic thinking, we use now. This is a gift. You don't start fresh like a spring daisy, but come with a clear plan of action: so, we went through this and this, we have a vision of how the dress should be designed and how it should look. We are not chickens, we are people with experience - that makes all the difference.
Nicolas: It's like a cookbook. In an established brand, you act strictly according to the recipe, and some errors can be corrected.
- How would you characterize the DNA of your home, its aesthetics? And who do you consider your main client?
Pierre: As for the client, we are trying to create things for very different types of figures, but at the same time for different characters. Our brand is based not only on the designer's vision. Oddly enough, we are attentive listeners. We are often asked if there is a bestseller in our collections. And this is partly the answer to your question: we have no "dead horses". We work for a wide variety of women: young, wealthy, aged, average income, we try to meet a variety of needs. I remember once there was a client, all in tattoos, it was very cool, but we would never have guessed that she was buying our dresses. We look at clothes from the outside: it's great when a woman in a non-model size looks as good in the same dress as the model on the runway.
Nicolas Caito © press service
- You represent your collections in Muslim countries, including Kuwait. Do you have to adapt things for local clients somehow?
Pierre: Sometimes there really can be special requests: more closed dresses, for example. Therefore, we will never go to Kuwait with exclusively sleeveless dresses, we will bring models that cover the arms. And we do not need to redo them or sew new ones: there are always suitable models in the collections.
Nicolas: We're a small company, so we can afford to be flexible. If the client sees a sleeveless dress and she likes it, but she needs a dress with sleeves, we will add them.
- Where is your production? Is everyone in the US?
Nicolas: Not just in the USA, everything is done in New York, on 7th Avenue. The American fashion industry used to be impressive, but it is shrinking every day. The global influence cannot be ignored. We attract artisans and it is an honor for us to be able to declare that we produce collections in New York. We know a huge number of designers who are based in New York, but all their things are sewn outside the country, which personally makes no sense to me. You need to be a company that is not just located in New York, but produces everything there.
- Do you believe that the future of fashion, including evening fashion, is in technology? Dresses made from recycled bottles on the Oscar track are already a reality.
Pierre: I think that everything is heading towards this. I don’t know in what form, artisans will still remain, people will still want to wear all these beautiful Italian fabrics. It is difficult to answer this question. It seems to me that now is 1971 and you are asking me about the Big Mac, but it simply does not exist yet. It's hard to predict the future of fashion. We have already moved away from staining with water and are using other methods. The outer shell of things is unlikely to change, but the approach to creation will be different.
Nicolas: When you think about the terrible impact the mass market has on the planet, you understand that change is inevitable. 70% of what is produced in large quantities ends up in a landfill. Fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil.
Pierre: We produce products in small editions, they don't get rid of our things after the season. We do not participate in this race, do not strive to siphon off as much as possible and do not destroy the environment with our activities.
- How often do your collections come out? Is every season new? Or do you have a base in which something appears periodically?
Pierre: We release collections twice a year. But, to be honest, the season is not important for us. We show from 12 to 15-17 models, re-release something, slightly changing the design: we play with the length, redo the shoulders. I see no reason to do more. Even for me, a person who loves fashion very much, all these endless updates are too much. Remember Galliano: he showed 90 models per show, and then got into Christian Dior and it began: two couture collections, two ready-to-wear collections, two cruise, and also collections for his own brand. How can a person cook 10 collections a year ?! You destroy it in this way, because it is completely emptied, exhausted. This is the most severe pressure of genius, and this is the fault of the entire fashion world: every season we pinned expectations on him and wanted to see something extraordinary again and again, but he is a man.
When I worked at Carolina Herrera, I had to produce so many things in a season that it turned into a routine, a streamlined process: for example, we make a double-breasted jacket, here we put a zipper, here we use red. There is nothing joyful about this. That is why now we do everything in small quantities, think over the construction, design and cut.
Nicolas: Our clients can always return to the previous season and order what they liked from the previous collection.
Pierre: By the way, this is a good test. Of course, I can contrive and sell you a dream once, but a year later, clients return and say: "Your dress is a fairy tale come to life!" This is the best compliment. You probably have things that you go to certain stores: Saint Laurent makes perfect pants, Prada has great suits. We also offer a product that customers want to buy only from us and nowhere else.
© press service
- I can't help but ask about your clients, Pierre. I know that you have been working with the White House for a long time, dressed Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama. You also have many celebrity clients like Lady Gaga. Who is more difficult to work with? With people from big politics or big show business?
Pierre: I'll tell you a story: it was the first day after the Christmas holidays, the third of January, if I'm not mistaken. I will never forget the first two working letters. One was about Michelle Obama's dinner at the White House, organized in honor of the President of France, and it was necessary to offer her a dress. The next letter is from Harper's Bazaar: "We have Lady Gaga on the cover", and then three words: "nudity", "plastic", "lace". It was very funny. Towards the end of the work on the dresses, I constantly reminded myself: do not mix anything up, otherwise, God forbid, Michelle Obama will receive Lady Gaga's dress and vice versa.
There is no fundamental difference in working with celebrities and politicians. You just have to respect the circumstances, place and time. Chanel said that you can't go to the theater in the form of a moth, but to the market in the form of a butterfly. One should always remember about the function of the outfit so as not to look ridiculous.
- Pierre, how did it happen that you became a stylist in the White House?
Pierre: To be honest, I never asked for this. You know, I worked for Oscar de la Renta, and he was very close to the Clintons. I first came to the White House 25 years ago and not in the status of a stylist, of course, but as an assistant. Then, when I came to Carolina Herrera, Mrs. Bush was the client of the house. So in the past I was not a stylist, but rather, I was present at the fitting, controlled the process. Mrs. Obama was not originally a regular customer of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, but she became one, deeper into fashion, and I dressed her several times.
Melania Trump is a different story, although we have never met with her before: she was looking for a stylist, studied my portfolio and noted that I am not a stylist. “More like a designer,” I said. She was happy with this option because she wanted to order several dresses, including a dress for the inauguration. It was a great event and a great honor for me: although I have lived in America for a very long time, I am still a foreigner, and I was allowed to dress the first lady. At one time I also dressed Carla Bruni, however, when she was still working as a model. And the very first fitting of this kind, which I attended, was at Madame Mitterrand. I was 22 years old and I just begged for the opportunity to go to her. I was allowed, but they told me to keep my mouth shut and not speak. The opportunity to be present at the fitting, just to be in the room was a great honor.
- How do you work with Melania Trump? Was it difficult to decide on this cooperation when almost the entire fashion world declared a boycott to her?
Pierre: There are people who do not want to mess with her and dress her - this is their right and their position. Well, someone is ready for this, and the position of these people also deserves respect. Why not? Melania Trump is beautiful, charming, elegant. This is the beauty of democracy - everyone does what he sees fit. Finally: it's just a dress! We are not the world and we are saving people here. There are things far more important and disturbing than the first lady's wardrobe. Well, a dress and a dress, what's wrong with that.
© Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images
- How did you create her inauguration outfit?
Pierre: We had only 11 days to create the dress, and this is already a very special circumstance. But there is also something else: here you often interview, there is nothing special for you, but imagine that one day you make material that will be associated only with you until the end of days, people will type your name on Google, and only this interview will be in the results. If you google my name, you'll only see Melania Trump. And this is forever. It is now a part of my life and the chapter of my section on Wikipedia.
- Do you have a dream client? Who would you really like to dress?
Pierre: For me, it's not a question of appearance and body type. The key factor is the personality itself and its charisma. I couldn't choose between Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga. It's all about the character, the power of influence, and it is not so important in which particular sphere - in the political arena or in pop culture. Several times I have had the good fortune to dress Meryl Streep. I remember the first time she arrived: on a moped, wearing a helmet, she tied the moped to a tree with a chain and went up to our studio. When she took off her helmet, I was speechless, I could not utter anything at all, and then I gathered myself and could only squeeze out: "You are Meryl Streep!" She then said that moving in this way is most convenient for her, they say, if she were in a taxi, everyone would whisper: "God, this is Meryl Streep." And she can afford such an appearance, she doesn't have to think about fashion at all, this is part of her beauty. At that meeting, we talked mainly about ecology. Moreover, if you start talking to her about cinema, then you will immediately lose her, she will not support this topic, she is interested in completely different things, and this is also an amazing feature of such women: you tune in to one thing, and then you talk to them and you are amazed that they are even more beautiful and interesting.>