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Lifestyle and interior, "so Maison Lacroix was reborn"
Sacha Walckhoff, creative director of the brand founded by Mr. Christian, talks about the initiatives planned for the maison’s 30th anniversary
Sacha Walckoff, the creative director of Maison Christian Lacroix since 2010, meets us to talk about the fashion house: memories from the past, current projects, and future dreams. (Photo: Neil Bicknell)
When Christian Lacroix left the maison in 2009, his right-hand man, Sacha Walckhoff, took over as creative director. At the beginning, it was a real challenge: Maison Lacroix was about to collapse, and a relaunch aimed at giving the company a bigger slant towards lifestyle and interior design represented the last attempt to avoid becoming a meteor in the global fashion landscape.
Sacha Walckhoff is naturally nostalgic: besides having worked alongside Mr. Christian Lacroix for 18 years, he often visits the archives of the Haute Couture collections, and through his creative work, he tries every day to be faithful to the principles and inspirations on which the brand was founded, reinterpreting them in a contemporary key.
In 2018, the brand will turn 30. For the occasion, Walckhoff launched a positively special collection. We have met him to speak about the past, present, and future.
Let’s start from the most recent piece of news: a collaboration with the New York-based multimedia artist Brian Kenny to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Maison. What is it about?
I asked Kenny to reinterpret in a contemporary key the prints of the scarves designed 20 years ago by Christian Lacroix, so as to celebrate fashion and freedom by combining Christian’s couture sketches with eccentric exuberance. The result are drawings full of humour, with animals and kids wearing high-fashion outfits.
Photo by Gregoire Alexandre
And what is the message here?
We wanted to interpret with lightness the theme of progression, showing the audience prints that expressed the opulence of the 1980s (with those years’ dreams of money and power) and adapted it to the current times, where those values are more in question and personal and collective freedoms are more important, in my opinion, than individual success and egotism. This collaboration is of course targeted at a young audience, who doesn’t know about the 1980s, so for me it was especially important to get an artist like Brian involved — someone who would express his art and his vision to communicate effectively.
You are the creative director of a brand active in fashion and design. What is the best way to convey a coherent message between these two worlds?
I have been working for the maison for 25 years now, 18 of which by Christian’s side, so I have seen a lot. The label has evolved dramatically over the years, and when Christian left the group, the pret à porter Couture collections remained pending. But we have developed many new collections. The idea is to reinterpret the main concepts that rendered Lacroix a recognisable and renowned brand around the world — like "Joie de Vivre", "Colors", and "Lavishness" — and create new prints, like that with butterflies as the centrepiece, which has become a true trademark for us.
Photo by Richard Powers
In a wider sense, how did the fashion industry evolve over the past few years?
Let’s concentrate for example on the last 15 years. Over this period, the fashion industry has evolved substantially, and my biggest challenge is to maintain the freedom of my creativity. It is a difficult exercise in a world where, unfortunately, money is ever more the ruler. If I look back, I very much miss the appeal and exclusiveness that the fashion world had when I started. The boundaries between luxury and mass productions were truly clearly defined, just in the way the distinction between style and bad taste was sharp. Today, everything is more blurred. Maybe this is the real reason that I tried, over the past few years, to shift my professional attention toward interior design, which, luckily, remains based on the creation of, and search, for beauty, for the long term.
Talking about interior design, you have an amazing home in Paris, and you decorated it yourself. Which style did you pick, and why?
I went with my personal taste. There is no mental process or complex reasoning behind my home: just a “love at first sight” for contemporary art and design, including my creations for Lacroix. I have an eclectic style, and I like to see myself as “minimalist maximus”. I adore beauty in all its forms, and I think that finding the right balance among contrasting elements is electrifying. From the wardrobe — a bit dark and dramatic — to the cosier bedroom, all the way to the quite artistic lounge, every room tells a different story.
Photo by Richard Powers
Could you tell us how those 18 years by the side of Mr. Lacroix were like?
I met Christian for the first time during the 1990s, and we immediately started working together. For me, Maison Lacroix is a veritable second home. What I remember most fondly and with a sense of longing is the way in which Christian looked at things. It was fascinating to watch as ideas grew and blossomed from his mind constantly. Working next to Christian gave me the opportunity to look at the world and at people in a different way: I stopped thinking in terms of right and wrong, and, little by little, I started putting myself in a position to understand, rather than judge. Thanks to him, I have an open mind, which I consider the most prized possession in life. The only thing that allows us to expand the boundaries of what is possible.
Photo by Neil Bicknell
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