Nicolas Degennes: When Freedom Makes Up a Designer

PARIS PRET-A-PORTER (PARIS FASHION WEEK) SPRING-SUMMER 2007

PARIS, Oct 5, 2006 /FR/ – How do you decide which shows, parties, launches or presentations you do attend when you are at a Fashion Week? I guess there are lots of different reasons, depending first on your professional point of view, then on your personal taste, and you might end up sometimes like a living paradox having made the wrong choice, just like in every field of your life… Tonight, choices were readily made for me although the ultimate question was: Givenchy, or Givenchy?

GIVENCHY LUXURY GRAPHER- AN ILLUSTRATION BY JULIEN FOURNIE (coloured with the very products in the make-up line designed by Nicolas Degennes for Givenchy "Arty Color")

Let me explain: the venerable houses’s ready-to-wear by Riccardo Tisci was being shown, but it was also the house’s launch of the new make-up line created by Nicolas Degennes. Both are under the Givenchy brand, both are for spring-summer 2007. Nevertheless this created no dilemma for me. I knew right from the beginning before the week began that I would attend the launch of the make-up line called “arty color” and, just coming back from it, I do not regret it..

On my way back home a few minutes ago after a full day of fashion shows, I was reflecting on the whys and the hows of the decision I made several days ago. Now I know: I always prefer creators who show generosity in their work. Sorry Riccardo, you are no doubt a growing designer in your own right, but in your work so far, you do not belong, in my eyes to the “generous” kind. You have every right to do so, but I think you are more trying to impose your fashion than really propose it to the others, unlike your prestigious predecessors Hubert de Givenchy and Alexander McQueen. Your work is certainly at the height of your juvenile talent and of the Givenchy ateliers’ know-how, but it is surrounded by an unhealthy, edgy kind of mystery that I don’t like. I confess here earnestly that you creations have often left me indifferent or, at best, perplex and sad. I hope you will pardon me for preferring the generous, outgoing kind of designers, the kind who research things but who are not reluctant either to showing their goal clearly.

Nicolas Degennes is not a make-up artist in my eyes – not in the way that this word is intended in our fashion circles -. He might be the Creative Director for Givenchy make-up collections, he might  care like no other about the exceptional texture of his products for the brand, he might carefully cure every aspect of beauty and practicality of their packaging, making them into precious little gems, he might even be a master of colors who makes a statement with every new palette, yet he is to me, above and first of all, an artist who asks first for the freedom of his customers in how they decide to use the tools he is offering them.

Having watched his work in fashion and beauty magazine pictures, but also backstage and front row at the best fashion shows, having also tested his innovative glosses, eyeliners, energizingly colourful eyeshadows, I can tell that he is always thinking about the others, the people he is going to meet, the women or men who use his colors , but also the persons they’ll encounter during their day and for whom they will have spent some time caring for their aspect. Wonder of wonders, Nicolas Degennes  is constantly pushing every single one of them to be more creative themselves. This, in my eyes, is being generous.

His collection for this season is inspired by graffiti… Many another would have used a piece of contemporary street spontaneous expression as a décor for their launch party. But Nicolas thinks of the others, remember? Once more, he has chosen a great setting Galerie Menouar, in the Marais district of Paris. Why has he done so? To highlight the work of a fantastic and not famous enough painter: Nielly, who is permanently exposed here, including tonight. This very talented female artist shares with Nicolas Degennes the same taste for pure, vivid colors she is using to create striking portraits that she realizes with paint using a knife for only tool.

It is highly energizing to witness the convergence of their separate works in apparently different fields when they are put in the same room. It is also great to find in the very heart of Paris a breeze of fresh air reminiscent of the Soho/Nolita districts of NYC.

No doubt, women and men (why not?) should play with Nicolas’ colors on their skin, and rediscover and, ultimately, recover the genuine freedom we all indulged ourselves in when we were kids: freedom to think, say, express ourselves with no social limits, outside the prison of conventions. Freedom to put a different color on each eye in the same face, freedom just to be different.

With such a stimulus, Julien Fournié has also decided to illustrate this blog with a creation of his own, the graffiti evening gown, in which he is using the colors and the very products of “arty color”  for Givenchy 2007 Spring–Summer make-up collection by Nicolas Degennes, as a free tribute to a genuine designer who, we wish, will also inspire many to create and develop their own art.

JEAN PAUL CAUVIN

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