Monday, July 25, 2022

An Interview With Marco De Rivera

The prestigious Fashion Week Haute Couture and Ready to Wear shows have just ended in Paris this week. Calm falls on all the places invested by models, teams, organizers and public. It's time to discover those who are rarely seen but who are present and active, before, during and after these moments of stress, wonder and excitement. Among these essential professionals who stand in the shadows, behind the spotlights, Marco de Rivera, whose benevolence and elegant figure are known and recognized by the entire Parisian fashion world, professionals, journalists and Parisians on the "front row”, agreed to answer our questions, even a little personal.

Marco, help us choose what we need to remember from this season...

In my opinion, first of all the return to the "real" fashion shows which almost all took place face-to-face with the audience, the podium, the models and the teams backstage then in the show room. I think it was comforting to find these moments again, that it was important for the professionals to see their customers again and to talk with the buyers. It is also important for Paris, the capital of creation, to reconnect with the excitement and emulation of these exceptional days.

Then, as always, haute couture allowed us to discover new talents like the Spanish designers. Present in Paris for the first time with a real identity, a personality, elegant outfits and the technical know-how required to appear in the prestigious calendar. Without forgetting those that we already know with many beautiful proposals, innovative and elegant, or surprising, such as at Schiaparelli, Balenciaga… or young talents from the off-calendar.

What is your role with creators?

It's not easy to summarize because it’s multifaceted. I have exercised it with different designers and my mission is not exactly the same with everyone. I have to adapt to each personality that I advise, to their work, their needs, their requests. This is what’s exciting and, believe me, in thirty years, I’ve never get tired!

Let's say that I stand with the creator to help and advise him in different areas of his action. I can be called an artistic advisor and a strategic advisor. Which means that I try to compose alongside the creator an aesthetic and visual coherence for each collection from its conception, to prepare its visualization, its marketing and its presentation.

I am also concerned with the strategy because I think it is essential for a brand, a house, to know how it is positioned on the market, who its competitors are, which clientele it is aimed at… Answering all these questions is the result of exchanges, even of constant debates with the creator, in a careful examination of its positioning, its project and a precise analysis of its ambitions. My mission also often consists in concretizing what is not even expressed by the artist, by enlightening him, by reassuring him. And that's not the least of my duties!

We must constantly be on the go to monitor what is being done or not being done, to understand what is happening elsewhere, how fashion is changing. Strategic thinking is not an exact science but the evaluation and preparation of a dynamic within an environment itself in perpetual motion, it is therefore a subtle and constant development.

Do you have a mission to accomplish in the preparation of the great moments of the fashion shows?

Of course, because the image of a house comes above all from its parades, hence the infinite care necessary well in advance. The big fashion shows of the Eighties and Nineties in which I participated, like those of Marc Audibet discovering a new aesthetic, marked this era and continue to influence us all. They taught me how much these services, whose duration has gone from one hour to fifteen minutes, still require relentless preparation, intensive work at least six months before the fateful date. 

Upstream of these fifteen minutes, a team of 200 to 80 people, depending on the house, is at work in great tension because the slightest little problem can spoil the whole service. I therefore intervene as a conductor, so that everyone in their place can interpret the creator's score with harmony. This requires generating with the designer and then bringing to life an alchemy between all the professions and the specialists involved in the shows. As you know, casting, make-up and hair styling of the models, lights, music, access for photographers, setting and customer reception, all of these participate into the image of the house. However, each has its own identity and intimate rites.

Have you worked more for French houses or foreign designers?

I had and still have the chance to do both forever. This too is exciting. Let's never forget that Parisian fashion has been and continues to be made by many foreign designers, who came for the irreplaceable know-how and workshops present here. Since Worth in 1887, the “Parisian chic” was built by them.

Originally from Central America, I’ve been living in Paris for forty years. This allowed me to benefit from a "transversal" vision of the world of fashion and its extreme originality. I learned my job through meeting exceptional personalities, thus having the privilege to participate intensely to cultural, aesthetic, economic exchanges. I am also aware of the customs and quirks of this environment.

Having become a Parisian myself, I defend the incomparable place of Paris in the increasingly international world of fashion. It is important to help foreign houses integrate, to advise them so that they’ll be recognized by professional institutions, in a word to find their way in this extraordinary city, welcoming and creative, but sometimes difficult to decipher.

I had the opportunity to organize important fashion shows in other countries such as Korea with Lee Young Hee, Japan with Marc Audibet, but also Hong Kong with Vanina Vespérini or even Berlin, California, Pakistan… When we arrive, the Paris label accompanies us with all the prestige it offers abroad. We have to be up to it and that is tremendously stimulating!

Interview: Lyne Cohen-Solal / Marco De Rivera

Image: Copyright ASVOFF

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