It is a good thing Cathy Amouroux likes to keep busy.
Since being awarded a Licence Professionnelle or Bachelor – see the second half of our Paris Editorial – jointly by the ESAA Duperré and Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée University, Cathy Amouroux has worked in Paris and in London for range of prestigious names including Kenzo, Ostwald Helgason, Maxime Simoens and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.
In June 2011 Cathy was offered the job of Assistant Women Fashion Designer for Ted Lapidus. In addition and despite the broad and varied range of responsibilities she holds, Cathy has designed, as personal projects in her spare time, two very different collections.
The first, Ah La Ligne is a stunning womenswear collection inspired by Scoubidous. We we are not talking here about Scooby-Doo but Scoubidou. Very popular in French school yards since the late 1950s, Scoudidou making involves plaiting and knotting colourful plastic tubes such as those covering electrical wires. In Cathy’s collection those plastic tubes are embroided, knitted and printed merging 2D and 3D, combining plastic with precious fabric. Colourful and tasteful, straight, curved and broken lines create playful, dynamic and elegant designs.
In December 2012, this collection saw Cathy Amouroux selected as finalist for Les Grands Prix de la Creation de la Ville de Paris a design competition organised every year by the City of Paris.
Cathy’s second personal project is a collection of leather accessories, mainly bags. Different from her garment range in style and technique, this leather goods collection highlights a different facet of Cathy’s passion for surface design. It shows how a well-rounded designer can apply her skill to very different materials.
Cathy what is your job at Ted Lapidus?
My title is Assistant Designer for Women’s Fashion. A lot of my work involves styling and graphic design.
Could you explain those duties in more details?
I develop the prints and patterns for the various Ted Lapidus products, from clothing to accessories. I also design jewellery collections for the brand.
In addition I contribute to the creation of promotional material, mainly the Ted Lapidus Catalogue. This work involves assisting on the shoots, casting models, fitting, etc. For the last two seasons, in collaboration with another Ted Lapidus fashion designer, we have been designing a dedicated clothing collection to be featured on this catalogue… Oh, and finally I assist in the monitoring and approving licensees prototypes.
Licensees, do you mind explaining what they are?
Ted Lapidus, as a licensor, has granted permission to a few licensees, companies otherwise independent from Ted Lapidus, to distribute products under its trademark. This relation is managed by contractual terms which specify how the licensees can use the Ted Lapidus name. This requires we monitor the licensees’ activity and we verify the terms of the agreement are respected.
What do you enjoy most in your work with Ted Lapidus?
My main job, what I tend to specialise in, is surface design. I love it. My approach to surface design is very much related to my ability to project 3D a 2D design.
In this respect I can say that working on the catalogue is something I really enjoy. Today Ted Lapidus commercial offer consists mainly of accessories made under licensing agreements. Shortly after I joined the company, I proposed to develop a line of clothing to highlight these accessories. At the moment these garments are not commercially available. Their purpose is solely to help redefine the Ted Lapidus image. Designing these garments allow me to see my 2D designs translated 3D.
Since its sixties and seventies heyday, the brand has turned into a sleeping beauty that has been overlooked. This is a pity because it has a very rich and well-defined stylistic heritage. Ted Lapidus, the designer, was a Grand Couturier; like Cardin, Courreges and Yves Saint Laurent he was famous for modernising the image of Parisian fashion. Ted Lapidus was a pioneer of unisex fashion; he loved military shoulder pads for both men and women and made the Safari Suit cool.
We draw on the House vintage treasure and try to reinterpret its codes to create a modern fashion for a younger and trendy target. This new image is proposed through the Ted Lapidus catalogue, that involves complete styling, from designing garments, to selecting the shoot atmosphere, choosing the models… This is truly creative work around the brand.
It sounds as if you really enjoy your work. 6 months ago however you asked for your status of full time employee to be switched to that of a freelancer, why?
Diversity is my stimulant. I need to dedicate myself to a number of projects and be constantly moving from one to the other. Being freelance allows me to develop my own work with my two collections as well as working for other companies.
Tell us about your two collections.
I work from inspiration; I have a vision and I want to realise it. These visions translate as mini collections; their starting point is not commercial. To simply imagine and draw them is not enough I want to see the garments and accessories realised. It is an overall and complete process, where I translate my inspiration into 2D designs and again into 3D.
I also take great pleasure in organizing my own shoots, which so far has been the final realisation of the collections. This allows me to work on the various stages of the creative process, to develop my skills and acquire new ones. It is also an opportunity to meet and work every time with new people. I enjoy it and I also think it is important as a designer to be able to work on your own agenda.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love travelling and always come with images and experiences that influence my work. In fact my work often starts with a memory that I transformed into creative energy. I tend to be affected by materials and technical principles – like Scoubidous. – which become the starting point of my projects.
Finally, the dreams I make are an incredible source of inspiration. I think I carry on working when I sleep; I anticipate the upcoming work day and get new ideas. I am not joking, one night Karl Lagerfeld came in my dreams and gave me the answer to a technical problem that had troubled me for several days … Now you must think I am mad!
What do you find most challenging when designing your own collections?
A problem of my own making related to the limitations of material: I am often drawn to materials that have little to do with clothing and are difficult to fit and be made wearable. Often it turns into real puzzles … it is incredibly exciting!
How do you make all these jobs and projects fit together?
They all feed from each other and in the end cannot be dissociated. I would not perform the same way at Ted Lapidus if I was not working on my personal projects and vice versa. This is where I find my balance and energy.
So what does your average working week look like?
Take a guess! I never really stop and work almost every day. Of course I take holidays and breathers but to be honest I love working, I am a designer, this is what moves me.
Would you consider making your collections commercially available?
For now, I want to use my personal work, those collections to get noticed, to help me get more freelance work and feed my creativity. I want to gain more experience working for others before I starting maybe my own brand.
Any advice to those who would want to follow in your footsteps?
Being creative is great but creative careers, making a living off your creativity is tough.
You will only achieve something if armed with courage and perseverance. I do believe that in the end it always pays up.