Jean Touitou, on Transmission
So the book is in 3 sections... Books archiving fashion often don’t include text. What do you think the importance of that is in terms of the story you are trying to tell?
I think that’s crucial. People should use words to describe their fashion. I also take some work to find the right words, and people are lazy. People hire professional writers, which doesn’t look good.
Did you write the entirety of the text from the second part?
And how long did that take?
Well usually it is improvised before the presentation, I work on them a good three weeks before and I start to make ideas and use erasers and play with things over and over and over. It takes time.
Do you type them, or do you write by hand?
By hand, with an eraser, on an old look-book with heavy paper and pages.
As a writer, myself, I find it very hard to write on the computer, I can’t do it.
Yes, I am happy because I have a good ratio of working and walking. Something I try to do in Paris is walk one half-hour a day, so I don’t have to worry about carbs.
Do you find a big difference between New York and Paris?
Yes, life is too competitive. With this industry there is no fashion. But the same goes for Paris, too, in a way. People throw at you eighty looks…
It can be very exhausting, especially with fashion week. I experience the same thing, when it feels like everyone tries to go bigger and bolder with the same trend.
You need to make a lot of image-making, and bags… The same goes for fashion with their bags, they make so much money on the parallel market, because the big thing is to be aristocratic, which is not chic. I feel like some people try to do the opposite - instead of focusing on commerce they’re so focused on creativity that they can’t actually make money doing anything. That’s a big post-progression thing with fashion, we don’t really know if it’s an art form. In France there are two words for art, art appliqué, which is doing something artisanal, like science. Your fundamental research and then research applied to something. It’s the same, art applied to something cool. I think it’s unique to find someone who is thoughtful in a practical way as well as creative. None of us are going to change the world like Cy Twombly did. We have to face it. There is no conceptual or fundamental creativity. But that is a frustrating reality for many designers. They have no money. To me it is like, boys comparing their equipment. I was very depressed by the end of fashion week.
How do you think the internet has affected that?
The internet has managed to destroy a lot of things in culture in general. It is pretty useful for daily work and entertainment, but fashion through internet is like a huge look-book. I feel free to talk to you because there is freedom of speech with your magazine. The thing is with the internet now, it is such a good business vector for advertisements, but you cannot trust them anymore. I remember when I was a kid, recreationally and not in fashion in the New York Tribune there was a woman who would write and people would be happy if she said something nice and shaken for fear of being destroyed by her. Nowadays no one can destroy anyone anymore, and rarely through the art of writing. In the internet all they do is review and copy, it’s the same format of reviewing with an established brand who doesn’t copy anybody so this is why it has pushed a lot of brands, including us, to be our own media and talk with people directly, because with the internet you can’t trust sincerity anymore.
I wanted to come up with an app, that would just write fashion reviews— it feels like they're all the same, and also, often very boring.
I pity them, but imagine if you are in Paris, jet-lagged, and come back and have to write a piece about a show?
I had no brain cells after fashion week.
It is difficult because they don’t show, they wait for you to show. There needs to be an alternative because there is some stuff to be said about fashion.
Its unfair! Because I see something great, but I’m so disheartened by the end of fashion week that it’s hard for me to concentrate— I can’t remember the things that I liked.
Maybe something will happen like what happened to rock and roll when CBGB started. There were a lot of descent musicians but they couldn’t stand it anymore, the commercialization. Including Blondie, she was an excellent musician.
Did you go to CBGB?
I went, yes. That was the big adventure to do.
Now its John Varvatos. Do you still think there are places like that?
No. Now its just cycles, not so much creativity. And we have been hurt by this in music with the ease and beauty of sampling.
You have a record company, right?
It’s a small thing. Some vinyls, but I don’t try to attract media attention on it. My latest obsession is the Sgt Pepper cover by Jimi Hendrix. He did that two days after the record came out, he was landing in London. Ive been told that the Beatles were in the room. Every six months I have an obsession and I have to do something with good musicians who can use my studio whenever they want. They teach me things and then we record them.
What instrument do you play?
I’m a good rhythm guitar player but I can’t do complicated things. Why would we use a 12-string guitar while playing a live song with Lou Reed? Why would we use that sound combination? It’s endless.
What is your obsession right now. The ‘Sgt Pepper?’
Not yet, I haven’t started. I think it will be hard, though. Because even Jimi changed it a little bit. I think he avoided the bridge.
He did some brilliant covers.
Yes, the Bob Dylan. I think he was the only one able to do something interesting with Bob Dylan. Its tricky to cover him. People try and it’s something that has an auto-destruction inside of it, because you are an imitator so if you try to create something you can’t. We will be playing music [at our book signings] so people do not get bored.
Did you do the playlist?
No, a friend of mine did. It is funny, we said, “Some Clash, or no Clash?” And a friend of his said, “Yo bro, why no Clash?”
I felt like I was in France or something, it was so funny. We will play some Rock Steady.