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26-Year-Old Maxime Simoëns Takes On Couture

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The haute couture shows start on Monday, and in addition to the schedule’s usual suspects—Lagerfeld, Gaultier, Galliano, et al.—newcomer Maxime Simoëns is throwing his (presumably) hand-beaded hat into the ring. At 26, Simoëns is the first designer to join the official Couture calendar without ever having staged a runway show—unless you count his prize-winning 2009 debut at the annual Festival International de Mode et de Photographie in Hyères, France. Kris Van Assche was on the festival’s fashion jury that year, as were Jefferson Hack and Zoe Cassavetes. Obviously the kid keeps good company. Further proof? He’s currently operating out of Christian Lacroix’s old atelier.

On the eve of his Couture debut, Style.com talked to Simoëns about abandoning his first love for fashion, landing the Gossip girls, and his plans for re-shaping couture.


Your first interest was film. Why did you abandon it for fashion?
Starting from the age of five or six I was totally taken by James Dean, Charlie Chaplin, and Marilyn Monroe. Then I got to film school and found it too technical and scientific—all physics, math, chemistry. I wanted to express myself more concretely; I was thinking less about science and more about the narration of a heroine. Then came Madonna’s “Drowned” World Tour and I took one look at the costumes and silhouettes—and of course the corsets—by Jean Paul Gaultier, and I knew. I went home and started to draw. It totally threw my parents off because after ten years of talking about film I turned around and told them it was going to be fashion.


What happened once you arrived in Paris?

I attended the Chambre Syndicale, and I figured that since Gaultier was my inspiration my first internship should be there. It’s very complicated to get an internship there, so I knocked on all the doors I could, and then I hand-embroidered a letter on a corset that I made out of python and painted. It took my whole summer vacation—the corset, the packaging, everything. Mr. Gaultier never saw it, but his assistants did. It made the rounds in-house and that’s how I got my internship in the accessories department.

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