The idea of the loss of colour is such a strong notion
ALBUS, Mickael Pacult beautiful womenswear collection for Spring Summer, was designed as the capstone project of his Fashion Design BTS (Brevet de Technicien Supérieur) course in at the prestigious ESAA Duperre in Paris. This 2 year program takes place after the French Baccalaureate, sometimes following an Art Foundation year. You can find out more about French Fashion Design degrees at the end of Modeconnect’s Paris editorial.
Albus, a Latin noun meaning white produced the word Albinism. Albinism is a congenital disorder characterised by an absence of melanin, a pigment normally found in skin, hair and eyes. People who suffer from albinism have milky white skin and hair. They are often visually impaired and their iris and pupil can be red. Mickaël easily admits being impressed by alnino people he says: I am fascinated by these unique human beings, by the light they emit, the beauty of their hair and the purity of a white body. Their appearance seems pure, devoid of artifice as illustrated by the work of Oleg Dou.
Mickaël, can you explain your fascination with albinism and white?
A chance encounter with an albino person in the street of Paris made a very strong impression on me. The idea of the loss of colour is such a strong notion. It helped me realise that my own visual research has been around issues of whiteness, around the loss of visual reference that breaks the simplicity of form. For my collection I also looked into other issues that surround albinism such as skin fragility and possible treatment. A combination of all these themes led the development of my collection.
Can you explain what you have achieved with your collection?
ALBUS questions not only the theme of non-pigmentation as lack of colour but also broader notions of loss and lack. The idea of subtracting material, of playing with transparency and cut-outs, of a graduation from unveiled skin to naked body emerged.
The first step in the development of my collection was a search for textures. I used smooth materials which allow the light to glide on them, pristine and impenetrable in appearance, like the surface a bone china, to represent the nakedness of the body. I then worked with grainy, subtle and unobtrusive textures and relief reinforced by the vibration of different whites to express the granularity of the skin. In an effort to create a partial re-pigmentation, a revitalization, slightly pink tones appeared, they were to spread along the arms and legs. Still cold and different, the nudity of white became livelier.
Slowly the concept of garment evolved; it was no longer a veil that conceals the body, but an attempt to reproduce nakedness. ALBUS turns characteristic of the body itself into clothes, it garments are literally a second skin.
Can you explain further the practical stages of the development of your collection?
My class followed, under the supervision of our tutors, all the steps required to create a collection. After defining an aesthetic, I started to test materials. By manipulating them, testing their properties and applying different finishes (I experimented in particular with screen printing, laying expending rubber on a range of materials) I defined the range of fabrics I intended to work with.
Only then did I work on the shapes of my garments, this started with a preliminary research on volumes. In coherence with my visual references I created a series of shapes and formal principles declinable for all the garments of a collection.
The school require we give a lot of consideration to our collection range plan, we must produce a visual projection of what each outfit will be and specify in which material it will be produced.
This step is decisive for the rest of the project. It is particularly difficult to move from 2D to 3D design as you must then take into account all technical aspects and the feasibility of what you had imagined. When you have limited time and resources, you must consider your choices with care and establish a clear timetable that will structure the rest of the project.
How did you do that? How did you plan and organise your work?
Working on the range plan allows you to view all the garments you are considering and helps ensure you are creating strong and consistent silhouettes. I paid special attention to the ‘logical articulation’ between all the elements of the collection and tried to ensure strong and recognizable links between the different pieces while offering a true diversity. I was then able to effectively plan and organise the practical production and realization of the clothes. Personally I chose to start to design the strongest and most significant pieces first.
What motivated you creatively during the realisation of this collection?
Like other students on my course I have identified and defined a market and client types before defining and developing further my work and the resulting garment. However I was motivated by my own aesthetic research and the powerful notion of creating and bringing to life a unique world, an expression of my theorem of fashion. I focused on creative research and pure creation, material and form, guided by personal inspiration and singular references.
What do you feel you learnt through the process of creating your collection?
Such an intense project – the realization of a completely personal collection – helped me to understand the different resources, skills and crafts that all contribute to its realisation. I was lucky to be surrounded, at key moments of the project, with friends specialists in various fields. They helped me practically make and critically assess my collection. This experience has strengthened my belief in teamwork and cross-discipline collaboration.
I probably should have realised this beforehand, but I found out the hard way that working with white material requires constant attention. I had to be constantly careful not to dirty and spoil the material during both printing and assembly operations.
I put all my energy in this project. It is the product a huge amount of work, sleepless nights and pressure but ultimately it has been so exciting to be able to present this collection. If you intend to get involved in the field of fashion, fashion design in particular, do not imagine you can succeed without giving a maximum amount of your time and energy.
How do you imagine your professional future?
Since graduating with a BTS in June 2012, I undertook to further my education at Esaa Duperré. I am now studying for a two year long Diplôme Supérieur d’Arts Appliquées (DSAA). This course has been very rewarding so far; as I find myself in the midst of a very varied group of creative students. I have the opportunity to evolve my own design work through the conceptual approaches required in a ‘research laboratory’. I now have a wider understanding of fashion design; you could say I look at it more from the perspective of an art director.
In the near future I wish to gain some distance with education, possibly doing an internship abroad; New York would be nice for example and would help me to improve my English. Eventually I imagine I will return to Paris to either find an internship in the design studio of a fashion house or maybe join a school such as the IFM (French Fashion Institute) which offers further training over one year.
I have known since elementary school that the applied arts were where I wanted to be and I have always made sure to work hard to get there. The Fashion industry covers a wide range of very different trades. There I believe I will be able to find a job meaningful to me and I will be happy to give it my all.
What do you feel is exciting fashion wise in Paris at the moment?
The world of Parisian fashion is undergoing incremental changes with the departures and replacements of several designers and artistic directors. The established order resulting from these people being in place for a number of years is being upset. This is sure to bring a renewal of fashion in Paris with new visions, silhouettes and aesthetics. It may also create new opportunities for students like me to prove themselves.