The Fashion Folk S01 ep10 : Tomasz Starzewski, Starzewski Fashion, [London]
Interview with Tomasz Starzewski
The arrogance of youth is the greatest gift that you can be given and I am sure that I would not take the risks today, with the wisdom that I have today of what I did when I was an abnoxious precocious 19 year old. A lot of my contemporaries who went to work in Milan, Paris, New York will never have their own label because they just can't take that step. They are too wise.
KM : What is Thomasz Starzewksi and how do you pronounce it?
Well you pronounce it “Thomas Starjevski” – I do always associate with
designing luxurious, glamorous clothes for women who have a certain type of
When I was a child my grandmother used to go to Paris to buy couture models
and then have the right to manufacture it.
Up until the 70’s the couture houses in Paris, the way that they the main part
made was to show collection and you had the choice of either buying a model
or what was called the paper pattern and you paid an entrance fee to go to the
fashion show and you get that back by depending on how many pattern you
used to buy. And then you had the right to distribute that particular design –
That was what existed for the second world war and what carried on until the
explosion of what we see today as ready to wear.
KM: So how old were you then? You would have been aah…
13..8..something like that
KM: So this is when you would have first saw this?
Yeah, I got seduced by it.
KM: When did you actually start in the Fashion Game?
I went to St Martins but I started selling at 16, I started doing millinery I started
selling hats at 16 by 19 I already making clothes. I went to St Martins and did
my foundation and started my degree course – It was in my first year I did my
show and I left actually – I spent 2 years at St Martins that was it and started
my own business.
What was interesting at that time of the fashion game was that…. what was
coming out of London was very contemporary very Avant Garde and we were
– you had the punk movement, you have the new romantics, you had the raw
power of the street. And my work culture was steeped in a very different
world. I had a very difficult time at St Martin’s because what was my
inspiration and my benchmarks was actually not what St Martins was about.
I think one of the hardest things in the fashion game is if you have that power
to actually say “stop” , I’ve done that, I’m changing my formula. It’s a very,
very difficult one because it’s actually quite confusing. It’s something that
we’re doing at the moment. Styles we weren’t associated with 20 months
ago. We are now doing a completely different product and it's actually finding
Well because I got bored. I’d done that particular genre and I now am
exploring a very different genres
KM: How do you work the fashion? Where do you start? Do you start with
I always start with the fabric and then with the designs afterwards.
KM: How does that work, for example……
With two schools, you have two schools of designers. You have the designer
who draws a design and then sources the fabric and then you have the
designer who see’s the fabric and is inspired by the fabric. And then designs to
KM: That’s very Italian though. That’s the Italian way of doing it. The French
way is the other way.
The French is fabric first.
KM: No, no the French is the design first
Look at St Laurent, fabric first. You look at Armani, drawings first.
You can tell by the clothes
The textile mills have always been the backbone, of Paris and what is
interesting is that the textile mills have in the end sold them. The relationship
with the designers ……. When you think of Yves St Laurent you think of
Abraham – always. It is… you think of Paco Rabanne you think of Jacob
Schlaepfer These are such important marriages.
KM: Why is Paris adopting Englishmen like Galiano and McQueen as heads
of these French…
Because what England is extremely good at is producing fantastic raw talent,
that is exploitable, positioning a brand that is then able to exploit its licensing
powers. And there is one philosophy that price sells.
KM: What do you want to achieve with a woman… what is the point….
When she walks out happy and thinks that she looks like she looks cute and
pretty. And she feels sexy and she feels that she looks and feels attractive.
Clothes are an armour, clothes say how we conform to the social world that we
happen to live in. Clothes are the identity that you want the world to perceive
The ultimately best dressed man is the English Gentleman, it’s the ultimate.
It’s refined and it’s something they have that no other can do. It’s why
everybody who can afford to go to Saville Row flies from all ends of the world,
and goes to Saville Row because they want the English gentlemanly look. And
you can’t say the same for women because English women don’t have that
You wouldn’t have the “Look” Anglaise in men’s fashions. You wouldn’t have
the “Look: Anglaise
What is different is our approach. We are actually changing the collection
every four weeks, the merchandise changes. So what you see today, that’s
gone and the next program is being designed and being manufactured. And
so what you’re doing is you’re creating a new curiosity and it means that the
customer, the luxury customer is accustomed to coming at the beginning of the
season to grab the cherry pick. What its done is frighten them, so if they don’t
grab it now, it’s gone and in four weeks time there’s something new and
they’ve got to come back and see … well what is it? It’s new.
I think the arrogance of your is the greatest gift that you can be given and I’m
sure that I would not take the risks today with the wisdom that I have today of
what I did when I was an obnoxious, precocious 19 year old. And that
unbelievable innocent vanity, because it is an innocent vanity is so essential
because there is no such thing if…. Magic, important, terribly important. I see
a lot of designers, a lot of my contemporary’s that went to work in Milan, went
to work in New York, went to work in Paris, and there comes a point when they
say “well I’ve never had my own label”. And they can’t take that step because
they are just that bit too wiser. They’re too wise.
KM: They won’t go through the hardship?
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Tomasz Starzewski, Starzewski Fashion, London