A costumes designer, a stylist, a photographer, a journalist, a blogger, a curator and the list goes on… Filep Motwary is a contemporary “Renaissance Man”.
by Mary Giatra
All photos courtesy of Filep Motwary ©
I would like to start this interview by introducing you but it is hard since you are committed to so many different things. Some could say that you are some kind of a “Renaissance Man”. Is that something that the times demand or does it just come naturally?
I think that our age demand it! At least when it comes to fashion, knowing just one thing is definitely not good enough. Everything that I have done until now, I did by choice joy, as I believe that today by knowing more you reduce your limitations.
Could you just pick one if you had to?
And what about the concept of “masterizing”?
There have always been those who master and those who follow. Both of these examples are a necessity in order for things to become globalized with a future because if access to perfection is limited, there is a large part of creators that will not meet justice. There have always been people that cross second the finish line. Yet, the whole concept of masterizing becomes catalytic. By choosing to create something that deals with culture, psychology or social behavior, you seem to have great responsibility towards the masses. Especially when you deal with beauty, you have to justify it right, since by nature followers will copy or expand it. It is important to make a world that is more beautiful or why bother at all?! Leaving your mark behind matters as well but not everything revolves around an artist’s ego. It is important to keep balance and harmony since, based on history, radical changes haven’t always had a positive affect.
History has shown radical changes though. Especially in areas like art and fashion, there have been great revolutions. Do you believe that in our era a radical change is possible or even needed?
We live in an era that encompasses the concept of change. It is also a “babylonian” era, since there are so many different voices that are being heard right now and simultaneously. Even though there is so talent around, I don’t feel of our era as a place characterized by novelty or revolution, as were for example, the decades that followed the Second World War. There have been rearrangements that brought new movements but people had come through terrible situations and political changes. Today we have become tired of leaders and politics. We are hard to be convinced and the ideals are different. Our generation is not revolutionary. It is a modern yet lethargic Babylon.
What is it that triggered you into becoming who you are today?
I do not really know. I have always loved beautiful things. I cannot define it exactly but I guess it is something that came naturally. You start and you move on… It is like when you modify the water before taking a shower in order to achieve the perfect temperature for you. You keep on changing till you get it right. What I do is exactly the same thing, a personal method combined with my obsessions.
Fashion on Screen has been your latest synergy with Vicky Kaya and FWbVK. Four days of fashion films which you selected in order to tell a story from your different point of view. For the past days I have been collecting key-words. Some ideas that intrigued me and I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Muse and inspiration. What part do muses play in a creator’s life?
Muses exist though I find difficult when a current figure refers to a movie star who has passed away 30 years ago as a muse. How is this even possible to claim something as such? Everything you know about her is completely cinematic and has nothing to do with what “Muses” represent, at least in the Ancient Greek years.
You see her through the eyes of someone else.
Exactly! Dietrich for example, became the iconic figure she was because of Josef von Sternberg. He invented her. With his gros-plans” and the intense light on her face. Each one of his techniques created this idol. She was his muse only she was alive. He did not imagine how she would be. They worked together.
A muse has to be there, you have to be able to observe her and feel her. I have a dear friend who served as a “muse” for three important Parisian designers. She inspired each for a certain amount of time and they created together beautiful things. Yes, this is something I can understand.
In your life and work, have muses played an important role?
I have never been focused on one woman because I had never had enough time to spend with one. My women friends live in different countries. Still, beauty has always been an important part of my life. Since I was a little boy, I was drawn to beautiful women.
During the period of my collaboration with Maria Mastori we worked with women that were beautiful and some were not even professional models. I do not believe that beauty is limited inside model agencies. We are surrounded by beauty, what remains, is to have our eyes open and observe with a clear vision.
This is what has drawn me to photography for example, exploring beauty.
I do not believe that ugly people exist. Everybody has something to be proud of. A pretty nose, beautiful fingers, nice hair… Like the girl in the recent Rick Owens show, the one featuring the stepping team, she had nothing else but amazing hair, gorgeous hair…
Fashion and Cinema. What is the relationship between the two and what does really make an icon?
An icon, is exactly like a cougar in the jungle. It has a natural beauty, it is powerful, alluring and at the same time dangerous. You do not mess with it. You can just observe how it moves in a space that it owns. Being an icon is not about apotheosis, nor cheering about. Iconic is the person that owns its space -an imaginary square inside which there is no room left for anybody else. Bill Cunningham for example is definitely an icon. He sleeps surrounded by his cherished archives, he has limited social life whatsoever, very few friends and it is all by choice. Most of his time, he rides his bicycle taking pictures; he is an old man yet his work is inspiring to everybody.
If you look at it from a religious point of view, an icon acts exactly like religious icons found in churches. Divinity in a church is limited inside a square or a rectangle. To me it is the same thing.
You mentioned Bill Cunningham and you refer to him as an icon. We watched a very touching documentary on the life of this brilliant man. At one point in the movie he said: “Liberty is expensive.” -well, is it?-
When you come past your logical needs in order to remain true to yourself, you must be free from anything else.
He chooses to play the game by his own rules only because he accepts no intervention in his work. When you are paid, you belong to someone else’s vision-if there is any? I do not know how he does it but he is amazing. It becomes obvious that liberty is expensive…
For the record, while I was in Paris, I had a moment with Bill Cunningham outside the Victor & Rolf show. I told him about screening his movie in Greece and he admitted he never watched it.
He also stated that “Fashion is the armor you wear to get through everyday life.” Have you ever thought that fashion can be vain?
Fashion defines futility by changing every six months. But lets look on the bright side: So many artists and works of art that have been introduced because of fashion. This business is an infinite fountain of information and inspiration, of creation and education. Fashion contains history, fantasy and psychology to name a few. Fashion is not vain. Unfortunately, there are examples of creators who offer a lot but never achieve recognition. The system can discard you and it is hard to survive in it if you are not made for it.
Is the case of John Galliano a similar one? Was he discarded by the system?
No, he chose to get out and remain silent for a while. Galliano is a vivid example of someone who was bigger than the frame this business puts you in, at least in the CEO era we live in.
Indeed, the way things happened was very unfortunate. Either way, the firm did not want Galliano as head designer anymore. That was the perfect chance to create publicity puzzle in a period that the house of Dior could not reach headlines. People were starting to defy the house’s glamour and that is why the new chapter -with Raf Simons- began. Simons succeeded in this new challenge. His collections are indeed fresh and different. I like his vision and approach.
How is “life” after McQueen’s death and Galliano’s cast-off?
It is hard for anyone to reach level of their creativity nowadays. We have reached a point that reminds me somehow of 2000‘s minimalism yet, it is not minimal at all. It is a safe period and sometimes boring and ephemeral. The concept of time has changed. McQueen’s death and Galliano’s ouster defined the end of an era. However, fashion is a
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cycle so we are going to see change and people that will part themselves from tradition and do something different. Hopefully when these new people come we will still remember.
You worry about the expandability?
Exactly! I would be truly sad if in 20 years from now nobody remembers Galliano. I am his biggest fan.
Do you think there is a strong chance that this happens?
Of course! The new generation does not know Gianfranco Ferre nor Christian Lacroix. Fashion forgets as easily as it remembers and that is unfair.
Into-the-fashion.com is a way for FWbVK students to speak about fashion and transmit their knowledge and ideas. Who has been your greatest teacher?
I would have to say that Maria Mastori has been a great teacher. Besides being a professional and an artist, she is a mother to a son and she is also a wife. Our everyday collaboration -especially when I was staying in Greece- was interactive and educational. If I had not left this country chasing a more balanced future, I think we would have done much more together.
Which is the greatest lesson fashion has taught you and what could you pass on to the next generation with your experience as a guest speaker and judge in fashion schools around Europe?
Live and let them live! Just do what you do, do it well and be respectful in order to earn respect back. Be silent and observe until it is your time to speak and this time will come eventually. Be open and respect one another in order to evolve as a human being. Our time unfortunately is limited on this earth. Let us be remembered for good things.
I am in a constant search of partners in dialogue that will offer the exact amount of time you need to analyze and evolve. Not less, nor more because that will be an excess.
Filep Motwary has recently exhibited a series of photographs in Paris’ Premiere Vision in collaboration with Zoom by Fatex. The title of his exhibition is STREET-IT-BOYS and all images focus on menswear and feature Damir Doma, Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Maison Martin Margiela among others.
Visit www.filepmotwary.com and
www.thekinsky.com for a thorough view of Filep’s work.
All photos courtesy of Filep Motwary ©.