André Saraiva

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Baron Lolita by André
Baron Lolita by André© André Saraiva

Some say he embodies fashion. And indeed, André is definitely one of today’s icons, and a true Renaissance man. Graffiti artist, night-club owner, filmmaker, and now art director...

Some say he embodies fashion. And indeed, André is definitely one of today’s icons, and a true Renaissance man. Graffiti artist, night-club owner, filmmaker, and now art director of L’Officiel Hommes, he seems eager to conquer new fields, to try new experiences. From le Baron in Paris and Tokyo, and soon in New York, to the Hotel Amour, he is also the man of… fashionable nights.

How would you connect fashion to elegance?
To me, elegance is more a behaviour which can sometimes include fashion. I think fashion often claims to be elegant but it is very rarely the case.

What is the role of history and art history in your conception of fashion?
I'm not sure I actually have a conception of fashion but it is true that fashion is often (more or less successfully) inspired by history and artists.

Would you describe fashion as a language and a discourse, as Barthes did it?
I didn't know Barthes had written about fashion until I passed in front of this old bookstore recently where I saw The Fashion System in the window. To be honest I haven't read it yet… Yes, it is definitely a language for some people, for example like the Hells Angels or hippies use fashion to show they are part of a group. But for others it is just an alternative to being naked.

The word "intellectual" was coined in a time of great political distress. Does fashion have a political role? And in which way?
If you look around at all the extreme groups, from Hitler and his troups to skinheads, or the Black Panthers, all have strong political ideas and a striking appearance.

How would you relate the concept of fashion to the one of style?
Fashion is an industry, and some designers. Style is how the people integrate fashion in their everyday life. Some do it better than others. I just saw the film about Bill Cunningham and I think he demonstrates that better than anyone.

What does fashion have to do with intellectuality ?
I don't know, I'm not much of an intellectual. I'm a handy man!

You are a graffiti artist, with a deep interest in fashion. How would you relate both aspects of you character ?
When I started doing graffiti, I realised it was best not to dress like the other graffiti guys, sneakers, baseball hats, backpacks etc… Because that's how the cops spot you. I decided to dress like a salary man with a suit and tie and life became much easier. Also graffiti often used clothing as a medium, painting on T-shirts or denim jackets, like a wall or a canvas;Keith Haring and his Pop Shop, Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton, Futura and Agnès b....

You have opened nightclubs that are the hottest places in Paris, New York, Tokyo and Los Angeles. What’s more, you now serve as art director of L’Officiel Hommes. What’s the connection between fashion and what’s fashionable?
I have no clear idea of what fashion or fashionable might mean. The only thing that I know is that my career as well as my everyday life is seen as part of what the media call fashion. It was not my ambition at first. Maybe what’s really fashionable is not to follow fashion.


In this column each interviewee picks the picture that illustrates their interview, answers six questions that are the same for all contributors and then two more that are designed specifically for them. In two weeks Donatien will be interviewing the editor Anja Aronowsky-Cronberg.