Joseph Altuzarra on Carine Roitfeld, Meryl Streep and Boobs

Kerry Pieri

Born in Paris, schooled in Art and Art History in Philadelphia, and CFDA Award-nominated Joseph Altuzarra is the boy wonder designer everyone is talking about. Like most boy wonders, he didn’t come out of nowherehe worked his way through the stylish trenches, interning at Marc Jacobs and assisting Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy before showing his first ready to wear collection in 2009. His sculptural, mostly white with hints of neon and snakeskin spring collection gave way to a layered, urban juxtaposition of feminine/grungy ’90s inspired cool-girl fare for Fall. Let’s stay in the moment though, shall we? I went to Barneys New York today where the charming Altuzarra was being interviewed by Amanda Brooks. Below get to know the 27-year-old designer via the highlights:

On his Spring 2011 collection: “For a woman to feel sexy and seductive, it comes from a lot of different angles…When I really started thinking about it [the Spring collection] was when I was watching a lot of Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep movies, and the idea that these women were having such amazing careers later in life. The idea that older women want to feel seductive and sexy and date… I thought it was an interesting market.”

On the first steps of designing the collection: “I start thinking of a body part. I had an interesting conversation with a client a couple of years ago, who was drunk at the time, and we were actually talking about boobs and she was saying it’s so frustrating because most women, they have to wear bras, and after a certain age you want to feel feel held here [in the belly].”

On what generally starts his process for design: “It usually starts with a movie as inspiration. I’m not very snobby about movies so I’ll watch anything. It could be Twilight, like as a popular phenomenon, I think it’s really interesting.”

On being inspired by other designers and the past: “I think it’s nearly impossible to be sealed off from what came before you. I think you’re designing things, which in the end come from a person who has had experiences and been exposed to different images.”

On what he thinks is important when approaching his business: “Being less concerned with an editorial message and more with what people are wearing.”

On Carine Roitfeld’s Move to New York: “She’s someone who has such a singular point of view that you can almost imagine what she’s going to do, although I’m sure I’m actually wrong. What I would love to see her do in general, is bring her taste level to everything that she does, which I think she’s so unique in that way and there’s like a little irreverence about her as well, which I find very inspiring. I know she’s very excited [about being in New York].”

On designing a diffusion line now: “For the moment I don’t think so, I think part of what is so special about the brand right now is that it is so small and it has exclusivity for it, which is granted a little unfair for everyone who can’t afford it, but we’re trying to incorporate lower price points into the collection.”

On the CFDA love: “They really do have a lot of power in the industry but they’re a very benevolent force for young designers. They’re as present as you think they you would be, calling, not too stressed, it’s very important to have a relationship with them. They’re never trying to get something from you, it’s like they don’t need anything from you, they just want to be helpful.”

On what gets him down: “When I see something about myself I have to read it, even if it says ‘I don’t get the hype’ or something. There are moments of being judged so harshly that can be really demoralizing.”

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