There is a push and pull between reality and fiction in this issue. With a point of the camera, reality is somewhat altered into fiction by the talented photographers we have featured. Musicians have spoken words of rhyme and rhythm that fictionized everyday life. Artists we’ve spoken to opened our minds up to creations beyond imagery that got us questioning our imaginations. And now, we have Alexandre de Betak… Christened as the “Fellini of Fashion,” his studio Bureau Betak has been creating fairytales, fictions, if you will, for the past two decades.
It’s hard not to come across Alexandre de Betak if you’re in the creative business. The man designs runway shows to houses like Dior, Fendi, Rodarte (to name a few); he designs furniture, he designs living spaces [for himself, and others, he adds], he produces exhibitions, the list goes on and on… “The creative process is the same,” he says, “… It’s just applying sensibility to the medium.”
As for his concept to catwalk ready fashion shows, he says “I take a brief when there is a brief. Often, there is no brief so I basically invent it.” “The creative process is to apply ideas and inspirations within a brief.” Long story short, the man enhances the talent in others by adding his own unique touch.
I ask about his childhood, because I sure want to know how de Betak turned out to be as admirable as he is. “A lot of the things I was sensitive to as a kid, I still am today. I had a Vespa when I was 15, I still have one today. I had robots when I was 5, I still have hundreds of them today. I started taking pictures when I was 7, and I still do that every day.” Maybe you should just continue whatever you did as a child in your current age, non?
Which type of production excites him the most? “It’s the combination of them all that is exciting. I see the excitement as much as the frustration. The excitement of what I do is in the quantity and the diversity. It’s exciting because I’m always working on a couple of projects at the same time, in not only different trials, but different formats. So I can’t really pick between my experiences. I treat them all the same way.”
“A lot of the shows I did with Raf Simons when he was in Dior was very me. But in general, everything I do is very ‘me’ and very ‘them’ at the same time. What I did with Raf was very Raf and very Dior while being very me, and what I did with Rodarte was very Rodarte but very me at the same time as well.”
While one looks at his designs and productions for inspiration, he doesn’t particularly know what inspires him other than the eternal quest for perfection that one can never reach. However he does believe in improvement. “You can always improve yourself,” he says. “You can always create a memory that is emotionally more touching.” “I use the music, and the lights, and the choreography, and the special affects to touch your senses; tools that I use to try to make the shows more moving.”
Soon he is about to reach the thousand-show mark, so one can only assume how hard it would be for him to pick which production reflects who he is the most. “A lot of the shows I did with Raf Simons when he was in Dior was very me. But in general, everything I do is very ‘me’ and very ‘them’ at the same time. What I did with Raf was very Raf and very Dior while being very me, and what I did with Rodarte was very Rodarte but very me at the same time as well.”
Is there an event he would have loved to produce? “There is a lot! [He laughs in the most French way possible…] But there is still time to produce them!” When one mentions an event, I think of the MET Gala. What theme would de Betak pick for the upcoming one, I wonder… “The man vs. machine was great! [He takes his time to answer this one. Finally I get in a hard question.] I usually work on dualities and contrast, and I try to make them complimentary. Maybe I would pick one period in history, one that is still preserved; whether it’s Greece, or Rome, or Turkey. I think I would re-address something in that manner.”
In the end, we go back to the question of fiction. His beautiful, other-wordly designs are what grabbed our attention in the first place. What is his perception of fiction vs. reality? “You don’t have to take life as it is, I think you can create your own life just the way you want it to be. You can frame your life, hopefully the way you want, which is what I try to do for myself. When I was a kid taking pictures, what I did was framing life and choosing what I wanted to capture, what I wanted to look at, what I wanted to embrace… So there is a little bit of fiction in what I do, however I don’t think of it as fiction, I think of it as what I want to share.” Please continue, Monsieur de Betak.