All the creative directors and brand owners, whose names now and then flash on the pages of fashion magazines and editorials in European newspapers, consider him their best friend and professional with a capital letter. Therefore, he spends most of his time on an airplane and, traveling from one capital to another, does not let go of one of his seven iPods, as well as a laptop. In his native Paris, he can be found only, perhaps, during the same Fashion Weeks, which are held there six times a year. And so it happened: Anna Dyulgerova, a special correspondent for, met with her good friend Michel Gobert to learn more about his life in music and fashion, as well as about the brightest events of the fashion business over the past quarter century at his home, in the respectable XVI arrondissement of Paris, March 10. Immediately after the end of the next fashion marathon.
For me, Michelle Gobert is one of the most valuable and enjoyable acquaintances in the fashion industry. During the eight years that I have been following his work, he has never lost his drive and curiosity, but, on the contrary, constantly surprises with non-trivial moves. His ingenious soundtrack for the Balenciaga fall-winter 2010/11 show, based on the composition See you all by then little-known musician Koudlam, became another turning point in the fashion world and in the band's career. They started talking about him, they began to invite him to major festivals, art biennials, to work on soundtracks for films. At the shows, for which Gobert was responsible, there was an enchanting live performance by Sebastien Tellier with an orchestra, one could hear the music of the independent techno musician Sebastien Boucher (and at that time Michel's phone was torn off by SMS from fashionable friends asking to share the track), and a piano concert by Vanessa Wagner. So nobody worked with music and fashion before him.
- I know that you started your way in the world of music in 1978. But when did you first encounter the fashion world?
My mother was a flamboyant and fashionable eccentric, I just looked at what she was interested in. She had all these fashion magazines, books, and I always liked the fact that in the world of music people dressed coolly, so from my childhood I noticed the connection between fashion and music.
- That is, this connection has always been in Paris?
There was, yes, but I strengthened it (laughs). I've always loved that the way people dress in the music world expresses their feelings and attitudes. I worked in the main record store then, and also in the Palace (legendary Parisian nightclub in the 1970s and 80s) and, of course, met a lot of people from the fashion world there.
- But the work that you are doing now did not exist then?
I think that there was some semblance, because some kind of music was already playing at the shows. It seems to me that music first appeared on the show in the 1960s, so when I started working in the 1980s it became commonplace, but certainly not in the way that music plays a role in the fashion industry today. In addition, then collections could be shown for an hour, and they were logically divided, for example, into a "blue theme", "red", "Chinese", etc. Each of these themes had separate music, they were like scenes inside a movie. But my particular involvement in fashion shows dates back rather to the early 1990s.
- Do you remember your first show?
Yes, it was Vestiare for men in the 1980s, a brand that was owned by my friends and that no longer exists. Then I could not devote all my time to the shows, because I already had two main jobs. And then, somewhere at the turn of the 1980s and 90s, Karl Lagerfeld (now the creative director of Chanel and Fendi - RBC), who knew me, offered to do something together, and I agreed. I enjoyed working with him so much that I started making music for shows more and more often. I never said to myself: “Oh, I love making music for shows” - it all happened on its own.
© Bastien Lattanzio for
- Interestingly, despite the time that has passed since the beginning of your career in the fashion world, you are still the only "sound designer". It is clear that there are others who make music for the shows, but we do not hear about anyone as much as about you.
There are great people in the fashion and music industry who make soundtracks, take, for example, Frederic Sánchez or DJ Clara 3000, who now works with Vetements and Balenciaga (the new creative director of these brands, Demna Gvasalia, is from Georgia. - RBC), but to be honest, I don't feel much competition.
- The fashion industry has changed since you started. What era was the most fun and interesting? Could it be the present time?
Oh, definitely not! I think the most interesting thing happened in the early 1980s, when there were a lot fewer shows, and I didn't work in fashion at full strength. Suffice it to recall Claude Montand, Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, he did a lot there. Then came the Japanese Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto, working in a completely different aesthetic, and it was incredibly interesting to follow how they established new canons of beauty. All this was fashion with a capital "M". And a little later Gaultier appeared, everywhere there was a feeling that new doors were opening, because before that there were, perhaps, only Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Andre Courreges, but in the 1980s fashion began to expand its boundaries, young and extremely talented designers began to appear. Irony and humor appeared in fashion. I think it was a wonderful era. I also loved the era of supermodels in the 1990s. It was an incredible time of divine creatures that were almost impossible to reach: Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Nadia Auerman - they were incredibly cool. Then the grunge days came and Kate Moss came along. She was a bit like Twiggy, the icon of the 1960s, and was the kind of girl that any other, ordinary girl could associate herself with.
But I remember the early 2000s, it was also a great time, fashion again became bright and characteristic after the minimalist 1990s, because everyone, Jil Sander, Prada, Miu Miu and even Gucci, were minimalists in the 1990s! And then Balenciaga appeared with Nicolas Gesquière, Olivier Tiskens in Rochas… Now everything is a little different. Fashion - there are so many of it! This is just crazy. I can't even imagine how people manage to follow her, because so much is happening. Fashion now is like music, like cinema. There is too much of everything now! It became very difficult to learn something, to love something certain, to have your own opinion. Fashion is moving in a strange direction: all these shows, pre-screenings, post-screenings, pre-parties, after-parties, and also social networks … No, all this is really too much.
- So we are waiting for some kind of explosion?
I don't think there will be some kind of explosion, perhaps there will be a strong division, which already exists in the music and film industry - large and independent labels. I probably shouldn't say this, but how many bags does a person need? What about pairs of shoes? At the same time, the offer on the market is really huge. In the 1990s, you could see a bag for a couple of thousand euros in a Prada window, and it was incredibly beautiful, and now even a bag for € 20 thousand is no longer surprising, this is a common thing. In the 1990s there were waiting lists for Gucci or Burberry, and now, if you did not get a certain thing, you can find another - even more fashionable and desirable in another place. And it seems to me that this race led to the fact that people began to desire new things less. Many brands suffered from their greed, they grew almost uncontrollably, and wanted to produce and sell more and more, and now they have to maintain this "overproduction" just because they have a huge number of points of sale. It's like in music: when you produce more and more, then soon the product becomes boring, because there are natural limitations.
© Bastien Lattanzio for
- If we return to music: your corporate style is the search for little-known musicians. So it happened with Koudlam, whose loop-back track See you all was used as the soundtrack at the Balenciaga show six years ago. At the same time, Balenciaga was already a big brand, so the use of the track by a musician who had previously worked only with contemporary artists seemed to me a big breakthrough (Koudlam is the author of the music for the video by French artist Cyprien Gaillard, the youngest winner of the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2011).
When they ask me how I find this or that music, I don’t know what to answer: this is just my life and my work, I just do it. And all the most interesting tracks and groups are usually found on the Internet. I listen to new music for hours every day.
- Besides working with music and fashion, what else gives you joy?
Now a couple of days of sleep would bring me the greatest joy! And so, I, like everyone else, love to travel, watch films.
- As far as I remember, you don't really like playing as a DJ at parties. Are you bored there?
No, not that boring. Last night it was a pleasure to play at the party, because I knew exactly for whom I would put the music, in what space I would play. I understood that I would be very comfortable. (Michelle performed as a DJ for fifty people at the Louis Vuitton party, which lasted until three in the morning - RBC). But the expectations of the public from music are not always known, and I, if I may say so, am not “equipped” enough for parties, I am not a DJ who mixes records well or uses “turntables” to the fullest. But yesterday I had fun, and instead of an hour I played three.
- But you came to perform with pleasure at the opening of the new building of the Garage last year?
I like Dasha Zhukova, I feel the same emotions for Garage. I thought it would be great to play music for the guests on the rooftop during the opening. I also love Moscow, you know. I need to come more often.
- Yes please. But you have no time: now all your clients are also cruise, and off-season collections are shown in different parts of the world, so in May you will be in Cuba with Chanel. Although, of course, it's time to remember our plans for a trip to Tbilisi!
Maybe the Vetements cruise show?>