Lutz Huelle in Conversation with Filep Motwary

FilepMotwary: This year is the 10th anniversary of Lutz. How does it feel?

Lutz : From a business point of view it feels good, like an achievement, especially considering how we started: “Make up a collection, show it, see what happens”. No funds, no production set-up, no press office, no clue, just a small storage space behind the Gare du Nord. David and me couldn’t believe it when calls started coming in during the days after our first presentation, buyers wanting to see the collection, people from Harper’s Bazaar making an appointment to see the clothes.

We made up order sheets on a typewriter literally moments before the first client walked in. For a long time, and even more so in the beginning, we just made up things as we went along- neither David nor I had any experiences in running a business, so most of the times decisions were taken because they felt right, or because they had to be taken, not necessarily because they were the most business-savvy. Right from the beginning, it was always about creating something, before it was about finances. We were very naive, but also extremely positive that everything would turn out just fine. From a creative point of view I still feel like I have only scratched the surface, that there is still so much more to do. This might be down to being in a business that is based on change and constant reinvention, but it is also because I have always worked with financial restrictions.

Especially in the beginning our financial situation was so fragile that selling enough with the previous collection meant being able to make the following, selling less meant a smaller follow-up collection, selling very little meant a terrible next collection.

If I would ask you to analyze what Lutz is about how would you describe it?

It is a futuristic collection, but for a future that is tomorrow, or in six months. It is looking at what is around me, trying to see how our lives evolve, trying to make sense of the constant change. One of the reasons why I am so fascinated with clothes is because they’re such a mirror of our times, just like any other form of popular culture: film and books, pop music and clubs. Whatever we wear says something about us, but it also says something about the world in general.

The power of clothes is incredible -whatever we wrap ourselves in is a statement in one-way or another. The whole question of identity, the way we use clothes to say something or to change and rearrange certain aspects of ourselves. Apart from all this, I suppose that I’m just trying to make beautiful clothes that people would want to wear. Because that, in the end, is what it’s all about.

How does “art” become linked with Lutz? What is your “exception to the rule”? Your work is truly conceptual. Where is the red line separating the two (art-and fashion) in your opinion?

I’m not sure there is a separation. Isn’t any artistic or creative expression “Art”? Now, more than ever before everything is linked, the frontiers between things constantly evolve. And that to me seems to be a good thing, the fact that we all have these possibilities today to experience all these things: travel to wherever we want to, mix public and private life however we want to. I’m a huge fan of Pedro Almodovar, because he is able to mix and match all these different elements, the most outrageous and impossible plots and then makes us believe that everything is real and plausible, and I always think that is because what he talks about is always so close to real life.

The basic facts of life seem the same, but he just mixes them differently. Personally, what inspires me most is Pop -anything that deals with the ‘here and now’. In a world bombed with ideas what does make your work sufficient with the needs of modern individuals.

I try to keep focused on the person I want to dress, and to be as honest as possible about what I do. I always ask myself: If I saw somebody dressed like this, or wearing this piece of clothing, what would my reaction be? Would I find her (or him) beautiful, interesting, and sexy? Would I want to meet a person dressed like this? Obviously this is very subjective, but it also means that the collection is always for the same person, even if it evolves stylistically.

The sheer amount of information available now can be daunting, but it also forces me to be precise about what I do.

So Lutz, what is your most important achievement as a Fashion House then?

Very difficult question. I wouldn’t be able to say what our biggest achievement as a house is, apart from maybe that we have succeeded somehow to create a space for ourselves. What’s good about my personal situation is that I have managed to create a space for myself where I am surrounded and able to work with a lot of wonderful people, which in turn creates a great work environment.

What always impresses me is the architecture of the silhouette, your ability of combining different and opposite fabrics, the surfaces that jump out; the layering options and the laid-back feel.Who is your heroine really?

Thank you! I’ve always loved the idea of Throwing Things Together. People who seem to have dressed in a hurry, who have put on things that don’t necessarily go together but that somehow, once worn create a look that is slightly off and all the more fascinating for it.

There’s something gorgeously sexy about dressing slightly off, about putting things together in a really offhand way. Although this effortlessness is extremely difficult to achieve- if it ends up looking sloppy and careless it ends up being not sexy at all. My Heroine? It would be difficult to pinpoint one person, most of the times I think about the girls around me- Alex and Elvire, Natalie and Charlotte Gainsbourg has it down to a tee, dressing in that effortless way.

She has such presence that I have stood next to her during a Radiohead concert twice now, unable to utter a single word. Lady Gaga is incredible, but for different reasons- what I love about her is that she has no limits when it comes to dressing.

She goes through all these different identities with such ease; everything seems real on her. She is actually all the different identities she comes out with each time. Every new outfit is another part of her personality. And she seems to be at ease in each and every one of them.

How will this business evolve in the next ten years?

It’s an interesting time right now because everything is changing, from the way we perceive fashion to how it’s presented, sold, marketed and worn. Something that will be ever more important is specialization, even more so for a company like ours. Our biggest strength has always been that we propose a collection that nobody else does; it’s for this reason, more than anything else, which we have managed to exist and grow as a house.

With everything being so readily available everywhere it will be more and more important to be unique in one way or another. Another challenge is to make sure that people understand that there is work involved in designing, developing, cutting and making a garment and that these are objects that carry value. The prizes of garments in the mass-market have given people the strange idea that it is easy to produce cheap clothing, when in fact those prices are far below the normal cost of developing a garment.

How important is for LUTZ to feel connected with your customers? Who is your customer?

I don’t think it is possible to design a collection without being connected to your customer. If people didn’t wear my clothes I would feel that I have failed as a designer. The biggest joy in designing clothes is to see people wearing them. My Customer? I’d like to say cool girls with great taste 🙂

Our issue is dedicated to “EROS”, who according to Greek mythology, was the primordial god of sexual love and beauty. What does love and sex mean to Lutz? How these words become reflected in your clothes.

Clothes are always about sex, even when it’s not obvious. Anything we wear creates a relation with our bodies: tight or loose, open or closed, short or long, slinky or stiff. Even supposedly ‘unsexy’ are sexual because they still make a statement. Personally, I have always preferred when clothes keep me guessing. Imagining what is underneath can be so much more exciting than knowing. Naked bodies are to me slightly less interesting than the various states of undress that precede them.

Once the clothes are gone so is the mystery, it’s getting there that is exciting. Few things are more beautiful than seeing fabric move around the body, follow movement, create space, interact with what’s underneath.

I suppose what I like most is when it keeps me guessing, that is why my clothes are rarely (if ever) overtly sexual. But they allow you to be as sexual as you want by revealing what you want. That is another reason why I like Lady Gaga- she uses clothes to hide and reveal parts of her body, constantly evolving. It’s as if we constantly see her from a different angle, and she has all these different qualities to her.

In the end I still couldn’t say what kind of person she is because she gives out so many conflicting signals and that to me makes her incredibly beautiful.

Your morals?

Whatever I do will come back to me, so I try and live accordingly. Or would that count as religion?

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