Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

09.05.2016 - Dries Tack

Fashion does not exist without the people who make the clothes. Nor without the people who dream up entire worlds around these very same clothes, imbuing them with life and expression. Fashion editor Laurent Dombrowicz is one of these people.

Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

In the world of fashion, Laurent Dombrowicz is something of a one-off, with a multi-faceted identity. Not least through his work, as he sometimes moonlights from his main job as a stylist - or "man of images" as he likes to refer to himself – to play with words as a journalist, or lavish advice on brands such as L'Oréal or labels such as Filles à Papa, Nina Ricci or Manish Arora. The same is also true of his career and his approach to fashion: having trained as a film director at the INSAS, he draws inspiration from the world of film to design the sets where he works. "In fashion, what interests me most is the image potential, the type of narration suggested by a collection,” the Liège-born designer tells us. “To me, a lot of the time the "garment" side of it is secondary ".

Fashion, one, all and everything

This man who believes that "everything is fashion and that fashion is in everything" started his career at the age of 23, working as a stylist for the weekend edition of L’Express. A collaboration that paved the way for the prestigious and mostly foreign assignments that followed, from Citizen K to Vogue Korea, from Glamour Italia to Elle India. To only name a few. He discovered the fashion he loves in the 1980s, in the pages of The Face, a trailblazing but now defunct British culture and lifestyle magazine. 

Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

"It just seemed to have everything I had ever dreamed of, especially the taste for excess and typography. It conveyed a "beauty" that came from another world, but a world within reach."

Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

A fashion that was a world in its own right. Or like the pulse of the world, of an era. A fast-beating pulse. Fast, like the photo shoots, which - while they remind the former INSAS student of the teamwork on the film sets - differ from the latter in terms of pace, away from the solitary and anguished slowness of film shoots.

Together

As something that has stayed with him from his time in college, teamwork is important to Laurent. "Dressing (or undressing) models never gave me any particular buzz. However, from the definition of a theme – whether imposed by an editor or as a matter of personal liking - all the choices that determine the aesthetics strike me as paramount, starting with the choice of a photographer or makeup artist." As a former film student he knows a thing or two about light, and can easily chat with the rest of the team when it comes to colour temperatures, the choice of angles or backlights, regardless of technological advances and the fact that digital now rules supreme. A versatile approach and vocabulary that makes him what he is and that is reflected in his two roles, as an author of words and as a creator of images. "I know that very few people are masters of both the word and image, as if they were foreign languages or individuals who shouldn’t mingle,” he concedes.

Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

Personally, it’s in this constant journey between these various disciplines that I find my balance. Some projects translate into styling, others into art direction, some into global support, others still into decoding. It’s true to say we live in a world of specialists, and that holds true for the world of fashion. But seeing the world with blinkers never got anything done."

Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

Belgian, and more

A lack of blinkers which, he feels, typifies the Belgian fashion movement. Here is a subject on which Laurent Dombrowicz is intransigent. There is no such thing as Belgian fashion. But there is a Belgian way of being fashionable, tinged with cynicism, with "this ability to say that anything goes, of affirming that we can travel between nothing and everything." An open mind which he believes characterises Belgian creators, "a juxtaposition of individuals in a seemingly motley crew, but united by their talent to shake up certainties." An open mind that he is keen to pass on to his students at the Atelier Chardon Savard, a Paris-based fashion & visual communication college. He teaches his students "to open their eyes, to be aware that fashion is a full time job, 24/7. That it isn’t any old hobby.  That when you love fashion, you live fashion, you breathe it." To quote Diana Vreeland, "For the eye has to travel"....

Laurent Dombrowicz, a world of fashion

Isabelle Plumhans

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