Daniel Hurlin - manga, art and new masculinity

Daniel Hurlin
- Introduce yourself shortly.
- 29. Elegant things
A white coat worn over a violet waist coat.
Duck eggs.
Shaved ice mixed with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl.
A rosary of rock crystal.
Wisteria blossoms. Plum blossoms covered with snow.
A pretty child eating strawberries.”
Sei Shōnagon

- You as a person and you as a designer. Are they different or connected and how?
- The designer in me selects relevant experiences in my life and links them to design, patterns, materials, colours, etc… I try not to be too autobiographical in my work. However as I usually fit on myself at some stage I am very physically involved too. I think its strength for your designs if you can convince by demonstrating the attitude that goes with it, for example by wearing your own pieces.

- What was your favourite activity while you were a child? Your earliest memory related with fashion or clothes.
- There were two: reading manga/books and playing video games; I would do it for hours on end. Somehow I always related this to garments because I lived in a small city in the French Pyrenees and people dressed very boringly. However in mangas or games like Final Fantasy the characters had crazy clothes, kick ass attitude and that amazing life.

- You are creating for men. Do you have any concrete ideals when you start to create? How do you choose the models for your shows? Masculinity concept from your angle.
- Once I saw a video of Rei Kawakubo, where she says that when she designs for men, she always thinks about the personality of the man to inspire her. I do kind of the same, I always have a story, a narrative coming from a manga or anime, usually some murder or lust related story which I base my character upon. I love my models to reflect sensuality and masculinity in different ways, that’s why I make it a point to have diverse models black/asian/latino, and also because sometimes colours can look much better offset by darker skin. 

Regarding masculinity in fashion design, I think menswear can sometimes be very boring, repetitive and referential. In my opinion people always feel compelled to borrow the codes of a culture/subculture, and just not add much to it because they feel that menswear still needs to be somehow “wearable”. I try to approach different concepts that I feel are being left out of the usual menswear range: sexuality, seduction, femininity, extravagance but not carnival. Eventually the aim of my clothes is that it should be empowering, comfortable, bold but never meaningless with a touch of luxury in materials/finish.

- Your last collection “Perfect Blue Tamara” was inspired by art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka’s works. Where else are you looking for inspiration and what makes the Lempicka’s art perfectly suitable for your collection? Does it have personal meanings for you?
- Well, actually there’re two inspirations: Tamara de Lempicka and Satoshi Kon’s PERFECT BLUE. It’s an anime, a dark of story of obsession that revolves around a young signer turned actress, Mima, who been followed, almost killed and raped and eventually will overcome. It’s a story of desire, lust, revealing and hiding, transparencies, voyeurism, illusion and reality.
This was my narrative and driving force behind the collection, however the most visible influence is Tamara de Lempicka, because I found her painting echoed the same themes : desire, lust, cold, sharp, angular, fetishized body parts, smoothness in her technique that reminded of computer graphics and I used it extensively for print and colour technique. And for the actual garments and proportions it really varies from piece to piece: from 19th century Japanese clothes to contemporary sportswear.
For me it’s a way to explore intense emotions, this fuels me as I create and it allows me to live a life through them, just like video games did.

-  Do you have any special rituals before you start to create?
- Not really, but I work so much on computers because I love them. So maybe playing Sid Meier’s Civilization or Alpha Centauri before I start is always a nice intro.

- You are based in Paris. How does it reflect into your design? Maybe you can name new fashion capitals?
- I think Paris brings something more serene to my design, also because unlike London for example, people aren’t obsessed by youth culture or new designers. I don’t feel compelled to prove anything and I just get onto it and design.
I love computers and internet, and I think new fashion capitals are on the web. But nothing beats a well-oiled infrastructure and industry; I’ve experienced it before ;-).
So, aside from the usual ones, maybe Beijing?

- While you have been studying at CSM, London, you worked at Tesco and at Raf Simons. Is there any connection between high fashion and non-fashion fields? What is the story and meaning behind it?
- I’m just trying to find a path that’s my own. Whenever I find something interesting, I get driven to it. And also, I know so many people who just graduate from good schools and then go on to work at a luxury brands, or if they’re wealthy enough, do their own brand.
No life experience, how can you bring anything else? I liked that I went to Tesco, which an amazingly cool and interesting work environment, and to a more creative and high-end brand who’s in my opinion the real leader in menswear. Then I took two and half months off to go and work on organic farms in Japan. All I did every time was make the decision, phone calls, emails, and then just go. I had nothing to lose, so I just tried.

- Menswear trends. Name if you have any recommendations for new clothing, aesthetics, etc.
- I couldn’t tell, because these days everything moves so fast. I personally only dress second hand (except for underwear :) ) and I developed an obsession for sporty diffusion lines that designers did in the 90s, like Prada sport, etc… Simple designer clothes with a sporty edge.

- What are your values (both life and creation)?
- I think it’s important, as much as possible, to act with integrity. Also I believe you should always try to do something new and exciting, outdo yourself. And enjoy life.

- You had presentation at Hyeres 2012 festival. Tell more about this experience and what changed after all/hope that will change.
- I realized that not everyone understood my work, but when they did, the reaction was extremely positive. Especially from a certain type of people, who I think would become a clients. Also that my womenswear pieces is much more approachable than my menswear, and maybe I should consider designing for both. I hope it will bring more professional opportunities, but even if doesn’t I made a collection that I’m quite satisfied about, and that’s already good.

- Do you work in a big team? Do you get the support? Do you feel that you need to march and fight for public’s attention?
- No, I don’t at the moment, but I have a big supporting group of friends/family/people who believed in me and they’ve invested time, money, etc… I usually find myself in design teams of two or three people, and I think that’s the easiest.
I actually believe that whenever you do something different and personal, you always have to go on a lonely crusade, but I know for a fact that things feel more daunting than they actually are.

- Your dreams, thoughts and hopes?
- I hope I get some kind of professional success in my own name someday, in fashion or elsewhere.
My dream is to own an ancient Japanese country house, big, complete with a thermal rock bath and garden where I can live with my boyfriend, and also get a few tattoos from Shige at Yellow blaze tattoo studio.

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