|When and how did you first become interested in fashion?
MB: I was always fascinated by clothes and what they mean. As a kid in the 80′s I was looking at the punks and the goths and I was like “mum, what does it mean to be dressed like this?”. Then I started to realize that there were people actually conceiving these amazing looks.
How did you get in touch with Thierry Mugler ?
MB: Nicola [Formichetti] and me hung out together in New York last summer. Good fun. He was about to sign Mugler. He then stepped up and popped the question! LOL
And why do you think they chose you?
MB: I can’t speak for Nicola, but judging by the direction that he’s giving the label and his general style, there definitely is a strong link to the world I have been building with “Sang Bleu” for some time now. I guess it was a pretty natural choice: he needed someone who’d understand his vision but would also complement with an in-depth understanding of typography, graphic languages and also media.
How is your creative process at Mugler?
MB: It is very organic. I am not an office-hours type of guy, you know? Nicola sends ideas, suggestions or needs and I find a way to deal with them, whether they might be to research tattooed models, extraterrestrial alphabets, to animate a logo or lay out magazine adverts. And if I can’t deal with it myself, someone from my team will do. I am on the road all the time and managing independent projects too so I understand how stressed things can get, and that if someone e-mails you at 2am, it is not necessarily because they are egocentric workaholics, but because that’s what it takes to make things happen. Revolutions happen in overtime hours, you know what I mean? Most of my design team is in Switzerland, fashion-related team in Paris, NY, London.
Tell us about the new logo.
MB: It was very interesting. I am a typographer by trade so I understand that the simplest logo can be the most complex challenge. I still get excited for these things! In this case, there was a whole lot of dimensions to consider. The heritage, but at the same time, it is a new company, with a new clientele. We tried hundreds of versions, but somehow, I had a vision. Not in an esoteric sense, only in the sense that I felt I knew what Nicola envisioned, and (which is rarely the case when dealing with big corporations), I completely agreed with it. So even if we did try much more extreme things, but also a super classic one, we felt we needed to find that happy middle where the logo could fit in a luxury/chic context but also stand out from the usual upper-case Sans logos, and finally have the potential to be expanded to a complete identity.
This last menswear show had a whole story of tattoos going on. Did you have anything to do with that?
MB: Not directly, but I did help on approaching the models. Once again, I can’t speak for Nicola, but I surely hope that “Sang Bleu” was some kind of inspiration for him. It is like the question of the egg and the chicken here.
How about the video that was run during the show? It was pretty amazing.
MB: The video is Mariano [Vivanco] and Nicola, really. They shot it at the same time as the campaign, but I always deal with layout and graphic elements.
This particular collection and the way it was presented had a very strong link with pop culture. Do you think this is a new way of making fashion relevant for a generation ruled by the Internet?
MB: Of course. I think it is a strong sign that someone like Nicola directs it. He is an amazing stylist, but his styling is a means to an end, which is the image that it produces. He has a profound understanding of media generally and pop culture. It is the same for me, with my graphic design. Ultimately, it is a means to an end; what I do is to manage media and diffuse a cultural content. The post-recession world we live in is tough. The traditional fashion/luxury market is saturated and on lock up by historical powerhouses and conglomerates. The audience for fashion has changed a lot in the past 20 years and is going to evolve even more in the near future. And in that audience, you have customers but also producers. Nicola or I myself are complete products of this new fashion-order and that’s who we work for as well.
When and how did you first become interested in tattoos?
MB:The punks and the metal-heads had the tattoos. They meant something that I wanted to understand.
What is so fascinating about tattoos?
MB: Tattooing is a technical tool but also a symbolic weapon. It is now OK to modify your body, and tattooing is one of the most advanced forms of body-modification. For whatever reason, for pure decoration, or to make a social statement, to fixate personal memories or to show allegiance to a group. What is fascinating is that it is so advanced that it’s not completely ruled yet. Far from it actually. Hence, it is one of the most innovative artistic fields nowadays. There is a lot of waste, but when it’s good, it’s not even good, but it challenges your “Weltanschau” [german for “belief”].
Do you see any relation between tattoos and fashion?
MB: Of course. Fashion is a tool, too. I mean it is a culture, an industry, but beyond the “aficionados” clothes are the way everyday people mark a social, cultural status, their personality. Clothes always tell something about the bearer, they are signs in a semiotic sense. So are tattoos. They come to augment the arsenal of signifiers individuals have at their disposal.
Is that something you try to translate to your magazine?
MB: That’s absolutely all “Sang Bleu” is about.
What does “Sang Bleu” stand for today?
MB: I think “Sang Bleu” is the love child of a group of people, I dealt with pregnancy, but I couldn’t have done it alone. It is personal, but at the same time, that family is completely tuned-in to the cultural heart of today’s society, we are like diplomats, mouth-pieces.
You seem to mix fashion, art, tattoo and sex in a pretty fantastic way in the magazine.
MB: I have severe ADD, I learned to link and relate things in unusual, but not illogical ways. Tattoo was the starting point of “Sang Bleu”, and literally, it stands at the crossing of all these fields. If you think of the process of acquiring a tattoo, it conveys all these elements a way or another. When it comes to the editorial process, I start with a few key visions/desires I have and work from there with my editorial crew/family. There is no formula, the only thing I promised myself is to stay free or die.
“Sang Bleu” got very well known and respected in fashion, why do you think the industry accepted it so well?
MB: Because “SB” is not an industry publication, it is a window on the rest of the world, where I try to formulate things in a way that is comprehensible for the fashion world. Fashion has a mission, so does Art. Post-modernism has tried to deny it, but as hard as you try to not address it, fashion or Art are natural needs of our societies, the people involved in these have the privilege to not have to build houses or work on the fields, but they have to provide the world with products that are up to date, that match certain needs. So the fashion world needs media that allow them to understand what’s happening on the street.
All your features, both in the magazine and blog, seem to have a very distinctive/unique point of view. Do you think that is kind of essential to be relevant in publishing nowadays?
MB: Not necessarily. The question is not to have a personal point of view, but is your point of view relevant. It’s funny you ask this because yesterday I was reading a quotation from Fabien Baron which goes:
“Terry Richardson lives his life like his pictures and his pictures are his life. The problem with all these kids trying to do photography is they’re trying too much to emulate existing photographers and aren’t making any personal or intellectual investment. So their images don’t cut it, you just don’t believe them. It’s just a style, an aesthetic surface with no soul and no real reason to exist…. There are very few people who bring a point of view to what they post on the internet, which is more about scavenging for information or commenting on something. That’s great, but where is the talent? Where’s the creativity? Where’s the point of view? Where’s the longevity? What are you saying? You’re just passing the buck along and it’s just not enough.”
I don’t agree. There are tons of people I don’t want to hear the point of view of. I think only dedicated followers make great leaders. Terry would not be where he is if there wasn’t all these mini-him’s. And the reason why there is, is because what he did was right! He did not create these people, but he somehow catalyzed the spirit of a certain time. Publications are the same. I am more than happy to read magazines or blogs that just carry information with no point of view, just dedication. I have an immense respect for those who do that right. Pure journalism.
What is new for you?
MB:New is an illusion. We are material beings that think in very earthly manners. At the end of the day, everybody wants to eat, sleep and have sex (not necessarily in that order). Our need does not change, but we are endlessly re-shuffling the same cards, so the game changes every time with always the same stake, the same end, which doesn’t make it any less interesting.