TêTE à TêTE WITH FLORENCE TETIER AND NICOLAS COULOMB
K: Could you tell us a little about your respective backgrounds and introduce yourselves?
Florence: I was born in the greater Paris area. I trained as a graphic designer at ECAL in Lausanne (Switzerland). Then I set up my own contemporary art and fashion magazine, Novembre (November), with three other people from ECAL, and I went back to Paris about a year ago, where as well as working on this magazine, I keep up with being an AD, graphic designer and design director.a
Nicolas: I started out reading philosophy at the Sorbonne, so I have a university degree which is pretty far removed from photography.
My journey started that way, I was self-taught, then I focused on it seriously when I met Florence. I now mostly do fashion photography.
K: How did you meet?
F: It was New Year's Eve 2006-2007 at the home of a mutual photographer friend, Erwan Frotin.
K: How would you define your partnership? Who does what? Who contributes what (influences, ideas, techniques, etc.)?
F: It is fairly organic but if we have to define it, I'd say that I take care of the conceptual aspect. I handle things like finding images and references, making moodboards and idea development. Then I try to transpose these into words or sketches. Nicolas has a more technical and practical approach in terms of where he can work on best bringing what we have in our minds into fruition, until the time comes to shoot the pictures.
My inspirations are mostly punk, Nicolas's are more romantic.
K: Could you describe your style?
F: Romantic punk? Does it have an official name? (not "Emo" I hope)
K: Your aesthetic signature for the magazine Novembre is unique and contributes fresh blood to the landscape of the Francophone press, which has not evolved much over the last few years. Could you talk about the editorial angle?
F: This began with quite a basic observation. We all left the ECAL school in Switzerland and at the time there were a lot of young people (and less young actually) who were artists like us, doing interesting things in very diverse fields (art, performance art, music, graphic design, fashion) without having a media form to allow them to express what they had to say. We decided to create Novembre at that time. And to give it an international component, which would cross borders and not remain confined to Switzerland. Most people do not know that it is Swiss and it’s for the better, that means what we did actually works! We like to view our 350 pages as an exhibition area, and suggest that artists take part in the issue as though they had been invited to a group show. Forms of expression are practically limitless, ranging from essays to interviews, and includes interconnecting discussions. We also have a lot of photos, fashion and artist portfolios, or we give free reign to certain people: painters, illustrators, etc. We then juggle with fairly eclectic content, which, we hope, contributes to the variety of Novembre. I have also been told several times that it's like a moodboard, and I really love that!
K: Why "Novembre"? What does this month evoke for you?
F: The word means both something and nothing. It is almost a notion, which is a little romantic. And above all, it can be understood in all languages.
Well, it also happens to be the month of my birthday.
K: Novembre is a "fashion and contemporary art" magazine. How does it make the link between fashion and art today? Is it more varied, more obvious?
F: Obviously, the two worlds are distinct from each other and often reject each other, but we try to blur the boundaries by asking artists to provide content for fashion issues or designers to be involved in the visual art process. This gives great results.
K: Why still focus on the paper format today? Is it a form of resistance?
F: it must be my emo side, but yes, a little. It goes along with what I was saying earlier about how it is similar to a moodboard. I love the idea that it's like a slice of the times: set in stone. On the internet, everything can be touched up, dates can be changed, mistakes corrected. Here it's a one-off, and it lasts, it's pretty cool.
K: How do the tumblr and the magazine complement each other?
F: We are all highly connected, and I know that myself, I'm on the internet all the time. I've been collecting images since I was small, so tumblr is a tool that I really like and above all, one that is incredibly natural for me. I reblog images every day, which obviously come together to influence me in terms of future content for the magazine. The two are closely linked, and nicely complement one another.
K: You just produced a series of photographs around knit for the Kenzo blog, can you talk about the concept?
F & N: We were asked to create five spreads to present the knitwear. We wanted something that would be easy and visually light, and would avoid the pitfalls of the "double page" recipe on paper for the internet support, which we believe rarely functions properly. As a result, we took inspiration from the fairly clean aesthetics of advertising from the late 80s and 90s, with highly colourful figures on a plain background. We wanted to keep a sense of humour, with a fresh touch and we decided to take a series of photos and create a loop of images in a long, vertical strip that we would chop up each week. We wanted pop imagery, but not too much, which explains the "gabber" hairstyle...
K: How do you perceive the Kenzo brand today?
F: I like tension between good taste and bad taste and I think Kenzo handles these codes perfectly. The clothes are often playful, in the positive sense of the term, they are almost ironic through the choice of shapes, patterns or materials sometimes, but it is always brilliantly done because we really do want to wear them. I see it as a real success, and I also think that there is a lot of attention to detail. In the clothes and accessories of course, but also the general attitude. For example, during the latest Samaritaine fashion show, it was very very cold, and we were given blankets, coffee and handwarmers. It didn't seem like much at first, but I believe you were the only ones who did that.
N: For me, Kenzo represents a brand which is in tune with its era; it knows how to make ready-to-wear into something elegant with this very intelligent touch of sportswear that I like a lot. I really like this nonchalance, in that there is a feeling that things are simple and done with no effort (whereas in fact it's just really well thought-out) and it always works.
K: What values do you associate with the brand?
F: Modern, but I don't know if that is a value? Or Joy, Happiness maybe.
K: Could you tell us about a particular KENZO design that you own and love?
F: I have the matching "marbles" handbag and docs, I wear them together obviously. Very, very often.
N: I have a grey winter jacket that Florence gave to me and I wear it all the time starting at the very beginning of winter.
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