To kick off the Haute Couture collections (days away) and to start the New Year, it seems like a wonderful choice to offer you the chance to meet a young man who is wise, prolific and talented beyond his years. He certainly understands the meaning, the scope and the nuance of the world of Haute Couture.
This is a gentleman of great knowledge, charm and talents. He is no stranger to the likes of made to measure due to his presence within the areas of costume design for opera, dance and theatre. His skills have also garnered the attention of the fashion savvy when dealing with his formidable and non-conventional female clients. His fashion philosophy is dedicated to women of strength and individuality which also happens to be two of his most marked characteristics. He is a rarity... a treasure!! … In the sea of sameness he stands out and rises above the rest!
Philip Treacy said of him “He is a fashion animal. Like us ... he is obsessed with the fashion”
It is truly a privilege and an honor to have met a man with such an amazing resume and story as well as a man with a future spot in the fashion pantheon. Without question, he is destined for all great things that will lead to the international attention that he so richly deserves.
Please take the time to read this and learn that there are designers who actually speak from the heart and do not use words as a means of trying to be taken seriously or explaining away ugly clothes…. You know, like the Raf’s and Nicolas’. Marcin Lobacz is indeed a cut above the rest…… are you listening Floriane ... Delphine??
1-tell us a little of your background just to lay the foundation for everyone to get acquainted with you...
In my life everything happened the other way round – I started working in the fashion industry before my formal education in this area. I grew up in the Operetta and Musical Theatre where my Mother performed as a Soprano and I was lucky to be surrounded by the magical world of wonderful classical music, fabulous costumes and the appreciation for Arts. I think it was the best environment for my natural passion to grow. When I was still at the gymnasium, I decided to design and make a capsule collection, which was followed by my first catwalk show at age of 15. Then I produced the next collection and at 17, my first clients appeared: The opera singers, who sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, The Royal Opera House in London and The Deutsche Opera in Berlin. I started my formal fashion education only after I had passed my Baccalaureate. I have always been fascinated by the old school techniques and the heritage of Haute Couture so I was taking relevant courses, which developed my pattern making, sewing as well as millinery skills, hence my background is very much in the field of made to measure wardrobe. I moved to London in pursuit of my dream to study at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Simultaneously, I got the chance to broaden my experience at Julien Macdonald and Philip Treacy, with whom I had the pleasure to work on projects for Armani Prive, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, both ready to wear and Haute Couture. I graduated in 2012. Currently I am developing my own label based in London.
2-how and why did you go from Philip Treacy to your present situation?
I have always considered Philip as one of the gods in my personal Pantheon of Fashion due to his surreal aesthetics. My fascination with hats and the desire to develop my millinery skills led me to his workroom, where I felt like in Aladdin’s cave with the sounds of Studio 54, Grace Jones, 1970s disco as well as the cross over classical music in the background. All of a sudden, I became a little boy again and found myself in the theatre that I grew up in, with all the feathers, ribbons, trims and the most unusual materials in every corner. Even the smell was similar, the one of the theatre backstage, very magical, like the most beautiful perfume, still present in my childhood memories. Philip taught me a lot about proportions, so crucial in millinery where every millimeter counts. His perfectionism, precision and perception for beauty are very close to my own sensitivity. Unfortunately, I got violently ill due to an allergic reaction to one of the stiffeners that I had to use. As a result, the doctor forbade me to work with chemicals ever again, which is like telling a florist to stop working with flowers. It was very sad but I had to come to terms with it.
3-what is your inspiration when it comes to designing... especially when it applies to wardrobe pieces rather than costumes?
There is no inspiration that would be stronger than the truth, one’s real feeling and emotions, first-hand experience. It can be a glance, gesture, scent or sound. Particular inspiration depends on the collection but when it comes to the wardrobe pieces, it is always women for whom I design and their dreams- as opposed to costumes, which help me, fulfill my own visions. I look at women and that is where the inspiration comes from- who they are, what perfume they wear, how they live, what they dream of… unveiling part of their mystery. I would like to accentuate a woman’s individual personality and make her feel as if she were born in my creations. Also the fabric that I decide to use might be an inspiration. One idea sparks the next. I don’t approach the process of creation with preconceived concepts. I find it very important to remain open and let it go, let the research carry you through the journey, without trying too hard. In this way idea development is more thorough and the result remains fresh. Searching for inspiration is very parallel to music– I used to play the piano and now my material is like notes. If you are sensitive enough, able to read and listen, they tell you exactly how to play. Then it is just a matter of interpretation.
4-how did the costume/stage design segment of your career come about? And what is it about costume design that attracts you?
Life is all about the circle of energy and what you get, you should give back. I received the most wonderful gift of a childhood spent in the theatre, which shaped my sensitivity. I feel almost obliged to share all these memories, which I cherish, through costumes. I am a great opera and ballet lover and they keep on playing a very important role in my life. Costumes enable transition, which is cathartic not only for the audience but also for the designer. Stage gives me more freedom and is the place where I can breathe creatively without compromising too much. Fashion and the whole world, including people’s mentality, has changed a lot since the times when I dreamt of being a designer – it has become more of an exciting business rather than the art form it once was. In costumes one can push far more boundaries and create a completely different world, whereas fashion has always reflected the existing one and all changes that take place in it.
5-what is the big picture when it comes to Marcin Lobacz as designer and human being? Let’s say in 10 years...
My approach to fashion is highly determined by my view on existence in general. As a human being, I am very appreciative of life and what is given to me. I am very positive and never take anything for granted. I have my dreams but don’t plan too far ahead, because in fashion, as in life, everything can change overnight. Especially in today’s world of dynamics, where nothing is what it seems and future becomes past so quickly. We are living in the era of an overwhelming number of products being thrown at us from everywhere and the reality is becoming more and more commercial. I do hope that with time it will all bounce back, customers will be fed up with it and start to appreciate unique items progressively, buying less with the focus on the quality. Haute Couture is my greatest passion and I would love it to regain its power, even if it is going to happen in a completely different form- who knows what the future brings… Personal progress is very important to me and my goals are definitely related to developing my brand further. I dedicated my life to my dreams and I work to make them come true when the right time comes. Having said that, I am a great believer in remaining open minded without pushing any fixed scenarios.
6-who are the style and fashion mentors/ icons that inspire you personally and professionally and why?
Monsieur St Laurent has always been my Hero. No other designer contributed to the history of fashion so much. He gave women not only the greatest amount of key items in their wardrobe but also showed them how to use their power to compete with men on every possible level. He was a Genius and I could speak endlessly but words seem too shallow to reflect his great influence on me and my life. The legacy he left, speaks for itself and that is the biggest achievement of the Designer.
I have always admired Lee Alexander McQueen and he was one of the reasons why I decided to pursue my dream of studying at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. His sharp tailoring, innovative construction, dark aesthetic and fierce decadence still fascinate me. He was a real Artist.
Last but not least, Erte and his universe of exotic extravagance, appreciation for beauty of the human body, magical stage design and elegance of Art Deco illustrations, which next to Art Nouveau, is my favourite period in the history of Art. I love the sensitivity behind his work as well as its theatrical romantic mood, so dear to my heart because of my own background.
7-what would you say are your design signatures as well as your curriculum (essentials/routine) when it comes to designing?
I wake up with music and I fall asleep with it. I wouldn’t be able to live, nor create, without it. As I said, especially classical music- when I hear it, a stream of thought begins, images of colors, texture, shapes arise immediately and they can become the starting point for my collection. Mother Nature is my real muse, who influences what I design to a great degree. My signature is what I call “Neo Art Nouveau”- it is all about the organic shape, movement, freedom, careless glamour and effortless chic. The soft look and dynamic cut, mixture of groovy punk and Haute Couture that can be played with and modified as the night progresses. My Woman is a force of nature – sharp heel and sharp intellect, completely unapologetic. She is a Man’s equal; rebellious, adventurous, powerful, feminine yet masculine at the same time. I want my pieces to enhance the mystery around her.
8-if you could invite 5 people to dinner... past or present... who would they be and why would they be at your table?
Marilyn Monroe- the one and only, my ultimate icon and the number one Goddess. No words can express how unique and ahead of her times she was. She has always been very special and dear to my heart. Her intellect, talent, courage, style, beauty, natural sex appeal and mystery … there are so many questions that I would like to ask her.
Marquis de Sade- His controversial life and philosophy have always intrigued me. It would be very exciting to discuss his views with him, talk about the dualism of human nature and the continuous internal conflict of good and evil.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky- My favourite Composer. I still remember listening to his Symphony No. 6 in B minor "Pathetique" for the first time, which left me completely mesmerized … Music born from the greatest emotions, euphoria interwoven with frustration. I would be curious to find out if a conversation with him would reach as deeply to my soul as his music.
Hans Christian Andersen- The master of transcending time. The wisdom of his writing helped me develop my sensitivity and learn basic truths about life when I was a child, and now, after removing the beautiful cover of the fairy tale, I can still easily relate those lessons to my life as an adult and unveil so many deep meanings. I would love to share dinner with a man who managed this.
Nicollo Machiavelli- I really do hate politics. Nevertheless, I would love to have him at my table and explore his points from “The Prince” with him, but in a more a humanist context. I consider it to be a very well written piece and Machiavelli’s realistic observations are incredibly relevant. Although they were written down during the Renaissance, they could almost be treated as the guidance in the brutal jungle of today’s world.
9-so far in your young career, what would you say has been your crowning achievement to date and why?
I want to see my life as a quest. I wouldn’t like to crown any of my achievements so far as that would mean closing a certain chapter. I believe that the most beautiful experience belongs to the future rather than the past. I have obviously done this and that, but I really enjoy pushing myself and discovering new things, setting new goals. It is the same with the process of designing which is never finished at the stage of illustrating. I always question while creating before the final piece comes to life. That applies to everything in my life, including my achievements.
10-if you could be in a dream situation, could dress a dream client … what would it be and why?
My dream client is a woman of great complexity and contrasts. The one who stimulates my imagination and never fails to intrigue me: sharp, unpredictable, taking chances, surprising, who doesn’t give safe answers and always makes a statement. She dares to wear what is considered not safe enough. She has the aura of secrecy around her, she doesn’t reveal too much and there is nothing more sensual than mystery. She is multi-dimensional, has strong personality but at the same time is so feminine and glamorous. I can see both the light and the darkness in her.
11-what do you think sets you apart from other designers?
The music of my soul.