Spirited #5 [Noir Generation]
Interview with Gregory Paul
by Amanda Maciel Antunes
Gregory Paul’s fashion journey started in his parent’s suburban house in Scarborough, Maine, when he was only 12. “I feel like I have been waiting to be a fashion designer since then,” he says. There’s a romantic feel to Paul’s work, as if designed by an old soul who has drifted through the decades smoking hand rolled cigarettes, and drinking red wine to the soundtrack of Serge Gainsbourg or some other debonair European gent.
Paul’s wise and methodical mannerisms surprise in person, when you realize he’s still a young man with a very long and promising career ahead of him. He favors the conceptual as much as the comfortable, and every piece of his newest collection has an intimate quality that brings you inside his realm of beauty.
How did you figure out you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I’ve always loved drawing and doodling, and at a certain point I started paying more attention and being more concerned with what the people in my sketches were wearing and what they looked like. I had books and books of those sketches in them but they were horrible! They were wearing capri pants and platform shoes [laughs]… but one day I let it go, I had to make those mistakes first. I love everything about fashion and what it has done and continues to do for civilization.
What was it like telling your family that this is what you wanted to do?
At first it was very awkward, I would hide my sketches from them… but at a certain point I couldn’t hide the fact that all I was doing were drawings of dresses and clothing. When we started looking at colleges my family realized that that’s what I loved and what I wanted to focus on. And really what every good parent does is to try and support you to thrive, and to succeed with where your passion is. It’s been great.
What was your favorite thing to draw?
Oh, dresses. Always. I don’t make them as much as I draw them. But they are so much fun to draw! You can go completely off the wall or go simple and no matter what it’s going to look elegant.
What drew you to women’s fashion? Have you ever thought about designing for men?
I’ve thought about menswear. It seems that every time I tried it it just seemed so much more constricted, you couldn’t be as vibrant and free with the design aspect. I guess the combinations and my love for dressing the female form has always driven me towards women’s clothing.
Who is that woman? Who are you designing for?
I want every women to feel beautiful and comfortable. It seems that there’s such a gap between what’s comfortable or easy and [what is] elegant or beautiful, so I’ve always wanted to fill that gap. I’ve always been inspired by powerful women such as Cleopatra or the sirens of the 30s and 40s– that they were able to hold their own in society that was very much dominated by men… the battle of gender roles and who holds the power in different situations… I guess I’ve always loved to give women that empowerment in dressing.
What was the starting point for your latest collection?
I went for very classic styles and ideas of silhouettes and tried to give [them] a twist and [also] make them modern. I looked at a 60s woman and adapted her to [show] how she could be forward thinking.
When is your collection debuting?
Early 2012. I’m showing a 19 piece collection in New York during Fashion Week. It’s about my ideal woman from the beginning to the end of her day.
Do you collect anything?
I collect a variety of things. I like to have things in groups in the sense of being a ‘collection.’ I collect magazines for inspiration purposes and Magic: The Gathering cards which is my only hobby besides design. It’s funny because [design] feels like a hobby even knowing it’s a job in the sense that I feel like I’m really just having fun. It’s great!
If you could own a piece of fine art what would it be?
The Venus de Milo and the statue of Adam because I like the perfect ideal of the perfect man and the perfect woman.
What is your idea of beauty?
Comfort, both with yourself and in what you are wearing– [that] makes someone beautiful. I’d say that crossing the line with sweat pants and sweat shirts is definitely not beautiful. When someone feels comfortable with themselves when they are walking down the street and when someone is content in themselves, that I think comes across as the most attractive thing in the world. I mean why step outside and join the hordes of uninterested, clone-like adults when there are so many delights to explore with your clothes?
Who do you look up to?
My favorite designer and end all be all was Alexander McQueen. His eye and his design never wavered and that I admire. What he did for fashion and art has been the most inspiring thing in the world for me. Beyond belief.
I totally agree, the theater and movement. He was a true artist.
Yeah. And so many have tried to reproduce that. It’s not gonna happen.
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