David Vincent Camuglio is a generous and singular fashion creator. Generous through his smile and his collections that offer a contemporary fashion for today and tomorrow’s women and men. Singular in the way he sees fashion. He calls the triggers to his creativity ‘flashes’. His instincts guide him through materials, styles. His technique is to introduce them in his creative process. Reconstructing the body has become his obsession for his 2019-2020 collection, ‘Le Somatomètre’. He chose the 19thcentury for the very structural dimension of clothes, and powerful black for the way it expresses elegance. Paris is his workshop, his breath of fresh air, and more specifically Saint-Germain-des-Prés that he likes for its tranquility and good spirit.
Maison Sensey : How did it start ?
David Vincent Camuglio : It’s quite a simple story. I always knew I wanted to work in fashion and that I would become rich and famous thanks to my work. I was lucky enough to have parents who let me do what I wanted. I went to school and soon learned sewing, tailoring, and working with leather and fur. I passed my high school diploma remotely and came to Paris. I studied in fashion schools, including Berçot where I ended up valedictorian. I went to New York to help a friend with his creations and once I came back to France, I started working on my own collections. I presented my first collection in July 2000.
For two years, I did everything myself. I would create one piece a day, look for venues for fashion shows, pick my own models, make-up artists, hairdresser, staff for visual communication… And that’s how it started… Later, I obtained the LVMH grant two years in a row and an investor allowed me to get a team, join a press office, a sales office and have a plant manufacturing my orders.
Today, I still do fashion consulting because it is very interesting to share knowledge and meet people; it also enriches my creative process. And every six months, I present my collections during a fashion show or a cocktail party, depending on my mood. I present them in Paris or abroad where I am often invited to fashion festivals to present my collections.
How would you define the ‘Camuglio’ style ?
I don’t really know how to answer this question. However, I rely on two things. The first one is that I have strong technical skills, so I draw inspiration from medicine books to better understand anatomy and I try to reconstitute the human body through clothes. I often use words like cracked, swollen, reconstruction vocabulary… things that are born in the ground and grow, crack, swell and reconstruct themselves. I conjure up the reconstruction of the human body through the clothes I create. I often think that if clothes could keep growing, they would become human beings. And I tackle this vision through the technical side.
The second thing is that I tell stories that are linked to what I’m going through. They come to me in momentary ‘flashes’ that often come up when I’m finishing a collection on which I’ve been working for 6 months. It is like a breaking point between the collection that just came to be and the next one, a necessary transition, a way out towards the next story. I start getting ideas for the new season. It comes as a light, a detail, a sentence, a word. That’s how my collections come to be.
For example, for the 2019-2020 collection “Le Somatomètre”, what came to me was the idea of going back to my roots. I got reacquainted with the somatometer and the study of the human body in the 19thcentury. This era inspires me a lot, for both men and women’s clothes. The somatometer is a tool to study the body and design clothes for men and women. In the 19thcentury, men wore corsets like women. There was something very rigid about the body and the structure of clothes. It must not have been very comfortable, but it was extremely elegant. Black was everywhere.
In 2000, the somatometer inspired my first collection, and today, I want to go back to my roots and use this inspiration, but with all the things I’ve been through since then. Because true creative people tell stories about what they’re going through, I wanted to cast a new look on the study of the human body. I worked with Pierre Soulages on leathery, charcoal-like, carbonized blacks… very deep blacks that inspire me. But I also worked with German artist Anselm Kiefer who’s also constantly deconstructing and reconstructing.
I surrounded myself with great artists, the somameter, and the 19thcentury from which I used the armors, the men and women’s costumes… I mostly create clothes for women. The man is more and more present but in all my collections, I always create him while thinking of myself, wondering how to adapt this momentary flash to myself, how to wear it. My workshop creates a few prototypes that I wear. It allows me to understand what needs improving in the material, styling, or technique. Once I validate them, I adapt them to women clothing.
Compared to the 19thcentury, I created pieces with very dark materials that are very close to Pierre Soulages’ work. It is a very dressy collection, very warm, very protective and it goes back to the roots regarding body construction. There are also light pieces, almost transparent, in silk organza, embroidery, lace… What matters is for each idea to be transformed so that we can produce it infinitely in every size.
For the next summer collection in 2020, I drew inspiration from my origins: Corsica, Sardinia, Greece, Middle East countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Persia and Turkey. I took an interest in Greece and Antique Rome. I had been meaning to make a collection inspired by warm weather, wind and sea for a long time already. I chose silk jerseys, aerial fabrics to create draped clothes. I chose very light colors like ivories, ecru, off-white, slightly copper-colored caramel shades, light browns… but I needed a strong color, and I chose Greece blue.
Greece blue is the same as the blue from Samarkand in Uzbekistan, ancient Persia. It is called the blue mosque city. Samarkand is where turquoise is extracted from the ground. To follow my own ritual, I’m creating a collection for myself. The prototypes are made in size 40 so that I can wear them before trying the garment on a model. The interesting thing is that this collection includes clothes for men that are very light, loose, vague, and a few structured garments too. For the photo shoot, they are fitted on male models while they will have a looser cut on female models.
It provides different dimensions and thus different clothes. I want a collection that can be worn by both women and men, in different ways. This summer 2020 collection includes fabrics like cotton, linen, natural silk, but also viscose which is a synthetic fabric made of natural fibers. During the summer, it is important to wear natural fabrics. Although I am not against polyester which is more time-resistant and sturdier.
You seem very inspired by the 19thcentury – are you interested in our era ?
I use my instincts to create, so I could be inspired by today as well as by the past. In 2005, I travelled to Russia after having a flash of inspiration. I created a collection inspired by 2005 Russia. But I let my instincts take me wherever they want, I tell stories according to what happens to me and inspired by many periods in history. I created a Henri IV top for one of my collections, I have very diverse inspirations. Those stories become richer thanks to technique but also thanks to books and reality.
As a fashion designer for women, how do you see them ?
I think that they are becoming freer and freer and hope that it will keep going this way! As a fashion designer, you must never forget to create clothes for today and tomorrow’s women and men. You need to avoid getting stuck in collections from the past, otherwise you end up making costumes.
The clothes must appeal to people today, and that depends on fabrics, colors, details. People must want to wear what we create. We need to create contemporary clothes, and I hope that women and men will always be free. Freedom is the greater luxury one can have.
You live in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près, are you inspired by Paris ?
I moved to the 6tharrondissement of Paris 17 years ago, and I immediately loved it because as I was strolling around the Saint-Germain-des-Près market, the cobbler asked me where I came from, what I did… he wanted to get to know me and it made me feel like I lived in a village. And maybe because I come from a village in Corsica, I really liked this feeling. 17 years later, things are still the same, with a lot of respect. I love what goes on here, I feel good, I am inspired by this neighborhood’s tranquility, I’m in the right place. I’ve always created in Paris.