Remezcla’s got a new crush. Brazilian fashion designer Alexandre Herchcovitch. We met up with Alexandre at the Hewlett Packard product launch in Manhattan on April 18 where HP previewed their latest series of laptops, scheduled for release early this summer. Alexandre was there promoting the computer he recently designed with them, the dm1 with a special detailed gold lace pattern, 2 years in the making. Herchcovitch was also down to chat, touching on topics as varied as his love of vintage clothes, today’s remix culture, femininity, ’80s music and having a religion other than Christianity in Brazil. Totally lovable. Brazil, we can so see how he is your favorite Project Runway/Projecto Fashion judge.
Where does your creativity and inspiration come from?
The label is now 20 years old. It is very difficult to come up with brand new ideas or with something that nobody has ever done before. So I think that to be creative, it’s to mix different works, like opposite works, together.
Like, a remix?
Yeah. And for people to understand the label better, or my creations, we don’t need to move from opposite directions every six months. We need to do continuously what we believe, and for these reasons we are doing a lot of what we have done in the past.
Was your process different this time since you were designing for technology?
We always have to think about the same customer. Even if we are designing a dress or we are designing a laptop or even other collaborations that we have, for example, band aids, it’s only one customer.
Who is it? Who is the customer?
It is a very democratic label, so we have customers of all ages. We have cheap products, expensive products, so we have a lot of things. So for example when we started to think about the laptop, we thought: it has to be the same girl or the same women who would wear the dress–not like opposite directions–so for that reason we decided to do a very feminine product but it’s a very strong product at the same time.
So you wouldn’t have gone like radically pink on us?
Yeah!… that was something that I said yesterday to a lot of bloggers, that you can be feminine without wearing pink, without wearing lipstick. You can be feminine without wearing high heels because femininity is not about clothing; it’s not about what you are carrying and the product. Femininity is inside you. That’s what we believe. So we wanted to create something strong and feminine at the same time and avoid the clichés.
How did your partnership with HP come about?
They approached us like almost 2 years ago with the idea of a collaboration that they’ve done already with other designers–Vivienne Tam and Tord Boontje. And they approached us and asked if we could collaborate with HP by designing or giving inputs for a new laptop and we immediately said yes, we want to do it. Why not?
What was the greatest challenge?
The most challenging thing that we had to think about when we were thinking about the laptop was that the print or ideas had to match with the current collection. At that time they said to me that it had to match with the current collection. And I said but I don’t have the idea for the collection that I’m going to design 2 years from now. And now you can see that it happens the way we thought. The collection is on and the color is matching and the design is matching [with the Fall/Winter 2012 collection].
YOU CAN BE FEMININE WITHOUT WEARING HIGH HEELS BECAUSE FEMININITY IS NOT ABOUT CLOTHING…
Is it different to design for a computer rather than a body?
Oh I think it is very different. Of course, when you think about a collection you think about the body and different ways to cover the body, different ways to show the body. So a laptop is something very different… So I can tell you that this is the first time any designer requested to print the inside of the computer: the keyboards, not only the cover. Why? Because when I think about a dress I think about how the women will feel the inside of the dress. When they dress—how is the touch and the feeling—because the outside of the dress will never touch the skin, and the inside will always touch the skin. So to compare to the process of designing the collection, we have to think day-by-day, every day, about the inside. And here the first thing that I asked them was if we could print the inside, which was a challenge for them.
Do you choose the music on your runway shows?
If I choose…oh, of course! The show is not something that is a part of the collection; It is something that has to help you to make people understand your ideas better, so every single thing that you choose—the model, the make-up, the hair. It has to say something and it has to be something that that makes people understand your ideas better. So the soundtrack is very, very important.
So, specific songs?
We always do different research and sometimes we’ve wanted people to feel a little bit of nostalgia so we research old songs that we like.
Like, Carlos Gardel…?
Uhh no… I’ve used Tango before once, like 6 or 7 years ago, because the woman’s collection was very masculine, like based on suits and tuxedos and the colors were black, white and red. And we thought that it would be very strong if we used Tango.
So, like any specific artists?
I’m a huge fan of ‘80s music. I was born in ’71, but when I was a teenager it was the middle of the 80s so I love like the Pop Stars from the 80s and house music from the beginning of the ’90s when I started to go out to clubs in São Paulo.
You mentioned your background, could you tell us more?
I’m from Brazil. I was born there, I was raised there. I still live there. I was born in a hospital in a Japanese neighborhood. But I grew up in Jardims, it means garden. My parents are Brazilian. But my grandparents came from Poland and Romania, so my last name is from Poland. But Brazil is a very mixed country and people emigrate a lot to brazil after and before the wars, so it’s a very democratic country, as you know…
How does Brazil influence you… São Paulo?
I used to say that I’m not a typical Brazilian, but since Brazil is a country that has received a lot of different influences, I can say that I am a real Brazilian. I don’t look like it, but I am. I think my work is what it is because I was born there. If I was born in Denmark, for example, my work would be completely different. So I think Brazil influences me but I don’t use Brazilian folklore or Brazilian arts & crafts in my work. My work is a Brazilian work because I was born there.
Have you been to Brazilia? It was designed right?
Yes, it was planned. Oscar Weinmizer planned the city in 1960. It was like a dessert and then they built the capital there. It is an amazing city.
Are there a lot of Jewish people in Brazil?
And you went to an Orthodox high school?
Yeah, I studied there all my life, but my family is not orthodox at all. It’s just that my father studied there, so I studied in the same school as my father studied, and I didn’t want to change it. And it was very hard for my family because my family is not orthodox at all. And every year they would ask me do you want to stay there do you want to move? And I would say no, I want to stay there.
…Did you have to cover up? …And were the girls covered up?
No, men don’t have to really, but the girls cannot present themselves in a way that gets attraction from men, so they cover everything.
Do you feel like that ever influenced you?
Yeah, my creations in the very beginning were very closed, and I didn’t realize why. But later on I realized that was because I always saw women covered during my childhood. I like, until now, dresses that…for example…this dress…is see though in some parts…not all..its feminine and covered.. it’s not like an open v-neck, because for me it is too much to have see though and v-neck all at once and tight. It’s like we have to choose cleavage or see though. Not all at once.
Could you ever design like a hot, orthodox outfit for carnival?
Last Halloween I wore a complete Rabbi suit, it was like a dream to wear the whole outfit, the hat…the everything…
Did you have the little curls?
Yes, I bought real hair. I’m very professional when I dress up for Halloween.
Was the hat expensive?
You know my boyfriend bought it for me in an antique fair in São Paulo but he paid like $250 but this one new is $6000, it’s like a fox fur…
A lot of people wear knock offs…do you ever wear knock offs?
No, I never wear fakes. I don’t think it’s fair for the designer. If I don’t have the money, I don’t buy, but I don’t wear anything fake at all.
Do you have any current style obsessions?
I love to wear vintage clothing because they were made in a different way then people are making clothes today, a little more charm, a little more hand detail. I like to mix the vintage feel with something new.
I was looking at your hand tattoo, because I have one too. What’s behind your tattoo?
When I said that I like very much 80s music, specifically I was talking about culture club and Boy George, which I love, and influences me a lot. So this eye I took from one picture of him.