Interviewing Top Designers

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Ghesquiere-balenciaga

Look for my interview with Nicholas Ghesquiere, pictured above at the Spring/Summer ‘10 Balenciaga show, in the April issue of FLARE.

Karl Lagerfeld inspected my L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani trench. (He approved.) Jean Paul Gaultier is a little more reserved than one might expect. (This is a man who caps off his shows by literally running down the runway.) Oscar de la Renta charmed me with his warmth and elegance. Max Azria answered my questions with Twitter-length responses. (Thankfully his wife Luba is chatty.) And one American designer (who shall go unnamed) was so dismissive and thoroughly bored when promoting her fragrance that I wanted to spritz in her face to get some kind of reaction.

I was thinking about all of these experiences last week when I had the opportunity to speak to one of my most revered designers – Nicholas Ghesquiere, the creative director at Balenciaga in Paris. I was in New York for the launch of his first fragrance for the house.

Nicholas rarely gives interviews. I’ve been asking for one for FLARE for years. He was everything I hoped he’d be – funny, charming, intelligent and sincere. Oh and sexy, too. My full interview will run in the April issue of FLARE.

Nicholas told me he enjoyed my questions. They weren’t the usual basics. The key to a great interview is research. It seems so obvious but I’ve witnessed some cringe-worthy interviews. Many celebrity interviews are in groups with a handful of editors from around the world. Many editors arrive with gifts and spend half of their allotted time gushing over the subject’s celebrity and how much that person means to them personally. I’m surprised by how few of them know much more about that person beyond their latest movie or fragrance. It’s like they got all of their information from US Weekly.

It’s so easy to research a high profile figure – an hour online will provide a wealth of information. It took me a while to break the ice with Narcisco Rodriguez. (I found out later that he was in the middle of negotiations to sell his company.) After asking him a few broad questions about his design sensibility, I asked him if his mother worked for him. I had dug up a little known fact that his mother used to make his shirts for party nights out. He let out a surprised guffaw and then opened up.

I got the same response from Nicholas Ghesquiere with a few of my questions. I can’t wait to start working on that feature.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lisatant

Photo: Anthea Simms

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