INTERVIEW WITH SD.

SAMUEL DRIRA IS CO-FOUNDER OF ENCENS MAGAZINE WITH SYBILLE WALTER. AFTER HAVING WORKED FOR SEVERAL PARISIAN PUBLISHERS, SAMUEL DRIRA CREATED ENCENS MAGAZINE IN 2002. AS PUBLISHER AND FASHION EDITOR, HE ALSO WORKS AS A STYLIST WITH A SHARPENED SENSE OF REALISM. IN PARALLEL, HE REGULARLY CONTRIBUTES TO VOGUE RUSSIA AND IS STYLING FOR THE SHOWS AND ADVERTISEMENT CAMPAIGNS OF DAMIR DOMA, BRUNO PIETERS, HERMES, FABRICS INTERSECTION, THE ROW AND NOW ALSO FOR HONEST BY. I MET SAMUEL IN PARIS TO ASK HIS OPINION ON LIFE, FASHION AND HONEST BY. READ MY INTERVIEW WITH SAMUEL DRIRA HERE BELOW.

By Bruno Pieters
 

BP: WE MET FOR THE FIRST TIME IN PARIS IN OCTOBER 2002. YOU WERE JUST STARTING OUT WITH ENCENS AND I WAS A STRUGGLING YOUNG DESIGNER. HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE THEN?
SD: I remember that fashion at the time had a strong focus on women wearing mainly dresses and heels, spiced by what was called ‘porn chic’. I also remember that you were one of the few who wanted to reconsider the basic construction of a jacket, shirt and pants. Your pieces were perfect for ENCENS, together with a whole bunch of Belgian designers -such as Veronique Branquinho and Patrick Van Ommeslaeghe- who were more involved in searching for a new aesthetic rather than following trends. I still don’t know what you had in mind the day you called me asking for help styling your show. I remember being surrounded by people speaking Flemish and being often asked if I was Belgian! You were the first designer who allowed me to work in that unknown territory. I don’t know if you were measuring the risk, but I have learned a lot working with you. 

BP: DO YOU FEEL THAT THE FASHION INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED A LOT IN THE LAST 10 YEARS?
SD: I believe that the ‘artistic’ side of fashion is disappearing. People seem more interested in big names and the idea of celebrity rather than the message behind the garments. 

BP: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT FASHION TODAY?
SD: We are facing a turning point. The old generation who invented the idea of placing 'the designer' on a pedestal, is dying or becoming completely forgotten. On the other hand, we are being overwhelmed by tons of information and new things coming from the internet. We still don’t know how to handle this complexity. Personally, I am torn between my nostalgia for what fashion used to be, and my fascination with new technology. For example I can now easily access information about someone producing handmade accessories far away in Australia with the click of a button. Things are rapidly changing.

BP: ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE EVOLUTION OF ENCENS? 
SD: Frankly, I can not believe that we are still working on ENCENS. We started without any strategy and it continues to be a work in progress. Every issue is an improvement on the foundations Sybille Walter and I lay, more than ten years ago. But I always hope to reach perfection and stop putting as much energy into things that don't make any money!  

BP: WHICH DESIGNERS WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK FOR?
SD: No one in particular. I never tried to work for anyone. But the moment I accept a project, it becomes my religion and I am instantly devoted.

BP: THE DESIGNS I CREATED IN THE PAST WERE DESCRIBED AS SHARP AND ARCHITECTURAL. FOR THE NEW COLLECTION I WANTED TO PROPOSE A REALISTIC AND ANDROGYNOUS LOOK. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS EVOLUTION? WERE YOU SURPRISED?
SD: Yes and no. I do recall one season in particular your clothes were so constructed they looked like furniture. When I told you this, you responded with a laugh, agreeing that you found no attraction in creating softer looking pieces. Now however, 'Honest by’ pieces appear to be less rigid. While the new collection looks more down to earth and casual, the patterns still embody the complex construction style you are known for. You have an amazing skill for designing jackets and pants, and those created for the ‘Honest by’ collection are just perfect! 

BP: WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE STYLING OF THE HONEST BY BRUNO PIETERS COLLECTION?
SD: Minimal, clean, streetwear. Flat Shoes. No Make Up. A glimpse of the early nineties.

BP: YOU CHOSE HENNA LINTUKANGAS AT FORD MODELS FOR THE LOOKBOOK AND CAMPAIGN. IS SHE YOUR NEW MUSE?
SD: Every girl I choose instantly becomes my new muse!

BP: WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT HENNA?
SD: She’s not 16. She’s cold. She never smiles. She’s whispering. Long neck, long arms, long everything. You can put a white t-shirt on her, and she will immediately transform it into something iconic. 

BP: AT HONEST BY WE WANT TO OFFER ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY AND TRANSPARENT PRODUCTS TO OUR CLIENTS. DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU BUY? 
SD: Not enough, I have to say. Before you, the products I saw in that category were either too basic or too commercial. I would like to see more inventive things.

BP: ARE YOU VEGAN? I DON'T THINK I HAVE EVER SEEN YOU EAT ANYTHING BUT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.
SD: I have been a vegetarian since I was 10 years old. I always hated the smell and the taste of meat. I actually can not understand why or how we still survive by killing animals. My main weakness, however, is that I can easily replace any proper food with something made from Ladurée!

BP: YOU STUDIED PHILOSOPHY WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER. WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY AT THE MOMENT?
SD: Since the start of 2012, I have decided to try and not attach myself to things when it is not necessary. This is proving to be very, very difficult.

BP: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE?
SD: "Elegance is refusal" from Diana Vreeland.

BP: THANK YOU FOR THIS INTERVIEW.
SD: Thank you.