One-on-one with Joseph Altuzarra

One-on-one with Joseph Altuzarra

“Creative, welcoming, and driven,” this is how luxury women’s ready-to-wear designer Joseph Altuzarra described SCAD students. The Parisian-born fashion designer, known for fusing modesty with sensuality, is redefining the meaning of the modern power woman. Before his conversation with Style.com’s Executive Editor, Nicole Phelps, Altuzarra sat down to discuss the “Altuzarra Woman,” how he got in the fashion industry and the one characteristic he deemed essential to survive in any creative field.

Anthony O’Baner (AO): How would you describe the “Altuzarra Woman?”

Joseph Altuzarra (JA): “I would say she is self-assured and fairly confident. I think she really is a woman and not a girl. Therefore she has an adult sensibility and way of dressing.”

AO: Where do you see the fashion industry going in the future?

JA: “I think it’s going in the direction [towards] individual style. I think it is less about trends and more about individual brands and also individual people.”

AO: How exactly did you get into the fashion industry?

JA: “I got into the fashion industry, really, by working. I didn’t go to school for fashion and I sent my resume to a bunch of places. At Marc Jacobs they had an intern alphabetize all of the resumes they received and call in alphabetical order… I was the first one at the top of the pile and I was available. So I was lucky.”

AO: What influences your design aesthetic?

JA: “A lot of times, movies. Just because I think both the narrative aspects of a movie are really inspiring, but I also think movies are sort of a world onto their own. I find it super inspiring to watch a movie and be completely immersed into a different world.”

AO: What would you define as fashion and how does it differentiate from style?

JA: “I would say style is innate. I think it’s like someone has it or creates it. I think of style as a very individual thing. Fashion, I think, is something created by designers. I think fashion can influence style or vice versa sometimes. They sort of rely on each other.”

AO: What sparked your interest in fashion before you embarked on the journey of getting into the industry?

JA: “Part of what I think was the reason why I became interested in fashion was because I was really unpopular as a kid in school [laughs]. I thought that if I could find the right clothes that I would be popular, basically. And I think it made me think about the transformative power of clothes and that they can change how you feel about yourself or how people can see you. That was sort of the original thing that was interesting to me.”

AO: What advice would you give to fashion design students, or any student in general?

JA: “I think in any industry you have to love the work. I think it is very easy to be lured in by the glamour of an industry, the excitement of it or the celebrity. But I think you spend so much time just working and not doing very glamorous things, especially when you are starting out. You have to love it for all of it — the positives and the negatives.”

AO: What is one essential characteristic students of any major should have?

JA: “Humility. I think, in general, that for any person.”

AO: What designer has influenced your designs the most?

JA: “That’s a good question. Maybe, Yves Saint Laurent. Only because he is pretty inescapable and basically created modern fashion.”

This was Altuzarra’s second time in Savannah as a guest speaker. The designer intends to continue the development of his handbags, which were debuted in his fall 2015 collection.

Written by Anthony O’Baner
Image courtesy of SCAD, by Simon Cave