Frequently photographed wearing a skirt and always clad in avant garde designers, downtown DJ Mike Nouveau is almost as well known for his envelope-pushing fashion as for his excellent taste in music. His sartorial sensibilities, not to mention his spinning skills, have linked him closely to the fashion world; he plays at Fashion Week parties from New York to Paris, and even ventured into daylight to create the sounds for designer Chris Benz’s fall/winter presentation in February.
Nouveau spoke to Stephen Watson, a regular contributor to The Inside Source, eBays digital style magazine, about his current tunes of choice, dressing adventurously and why he’s still mourning the closing of the Beatrice Inn.
The Inside Source: You have a very unique personal style. How would you describe your signature look? Who aresome of your favorite designers?
Mike Nouveau: Hmmm, it’s hard to put a label on my style, but I’d say it’s somewhere between post-apocalyptic samurai and fin de sicle coal miner chic. As for my favorite designers, I love Damir Doma, Ann Demeulemeester, Rei Kawakubo, Hussein Chalayan, Rick Owens, Paul Harnden, Haider Ackermann, and a handful of others.
The Inside Source: You are well known for being very adventurous with your personal style. You experiment and are not afraid to wear designers’ most unique clothing, including skirts for men.What kind of reactions do you get from people on the street?
Mike Nouveau: I mean someone’s gotta wear this stuff, right? I’ve never had anyone say anything negative to me on the street, but sometimes I do catch people doing double-takes when I walk by. That’s only when I’m wearing something that’s a little bit more forward than usual. The majority of the time I think I look pretty “normal” by New York City standards. I have a few flashy pieces that I wear from time to time, but usually I prefer garments with interesting construction and fabrics, and smaller details that you wouldn’t necessarily notice unless you looked closely. The devil is in the details.
Photo: Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images Entertainment
The Inside Source: Do you have a favorite place to DJ? A favorite venue or club?
Mike Nouveau: My favorite place in the world to DJ was The Beatrice Inn. It was only around for two years, but people will be talking about it for the next 30. It closed down almost 2 years ago and I still hear it mentioned every day. If we’re talking about current clubs, I’d say that Le Baron in Paris is my favorite place to play.
The Inside Source: There is such a strong link between the fashion industry and music. If your personal style was a sound, what song or band would it be?
Mike Nouveau: Good question, but hard for me to answer. I don’t really know how to categorize my style… so for an obvious answer let’s just go with “Dedicated Follow of Fashion” by The Kinks.
The Inside Source: What are some of your biggest or most favorite DJ gigs? What were some of the highlights from all the various Fashion Weeks?
Mike Nouveau: The parties that Purple [magazine] does are always fun, I’ve DJ’ed a few of them. Everything in Paris during Fashion Week is great because there is so much energy, and there are usually so many fellow New Yorkers in town, and everyone goes out every night for a week straight. For this Fashion Week in Paris it was business as usual. Nothing completely out of the ordinary. Just a lot of really fun gigs all within the same week.
The Inside Source: Is there any difference in the music you play when you work in New York vs. Europe?
Mike Nouveau: I’d say 90% of it is the same no matter where I go. Sometimes I’ll play a song that does well in New York, but in Paris or Istanbul or something, it will get no reaction from the crowd. Then I think to myself… did they even get this song here?
The Inside Source: What are some of your favorite bands? Any favorite songs that youll always try to play?
Mike Nouveau: My favorite bands are The Clash, The Smiths, Pulp, Libertines, Misfits, Spiritualized, and of course, there are tons more. I don’t think there is a certain song that I play in every set, but I do like to get at least one Boney M song in the rotation every night.
The Inside Source: What direction do you think menswear fashion trends are headed?
Mike Nouveau: I think fashion in general, not just menswear, is obviously heading deeper and deeper into the realms of disposable fashion. I guess there is less and less money to be found in creating beautiful garments that are also constructed well, and made with beautiful materials. H&M, Zara, and the like are making money churning out garments with questionable quality, with designs stolen from the runways of seasons past. The “designer collaborations” are even worse. Comme des Garcons for H&M and Lanvin for H&M are particularly sharp thorns in my side because I have so much respect for Rei Kawakubo and Alber Elbaz. It was simply a way for a stores found in malls to trick fast fashionistas into buying a poorly constructed garment with a designer label on it. I’m often called a label whore because I support the same eight or so designers, and that’s all I buy. I think I just know what it is that I like. When you go to H&M and buy something that has Lanvin’s name on it next to the H&M logo, you’re not getting a real Lanvin garment. You’re getting a mass produced shirt with poor construction and a watered down design made in China. People are buying it because it says “Lanvin” on it. They’re buying a tag, and that’s basically all they’re getting. Sorry, I had to vent for a second.
The Inside Source: When you buy clothes, do you ever shop online?Favorite stores?
Mike Nouveau: Yes, I shop online a lot, but I prefer to buy in-person. I try to buy the European brands in Europe, the Japanese brands from shops in Japan. It keeps it a bit more affordable. I also like to support the New York shops. Atelier New York and IF are two of my favorites. Outside of New York, I love L’Eclaireur in Paris, Darklands and Harveys in Berlin, Dover Street Market and Layers in London, and H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles.
The Inside Source: Do you ever shop on eBay? Do you collect anything?
Mike Nouveau: Yes, of course, I’ve actually had an account since 1997. I used to buy Simpsons memorabilia from the library of my junior high school. I have boxes and boxes filled with Simpsons stuff in the basement of my mom’s house. After that was probably old school skateboards, stuff from the late ’80s and early ’90s. You can also find a ton of it now collecting dust at my mom’s. And now, of course, clothes. It’s a good source to find rarer pieces from the designers I like. Especially ’90s Helmut Lang and vintage Comme des Garcons stuff.
Click here to see Nouveaus eBay wish list.
Meredith Barnett is the Editorial Director for The Inside Source, a digital style magazine presented by eBay. The Inside Source writer Stephen Watson authored this article in its original form. Click here to read it in full.
Images courtesy of Mike Nouveau.