Alexandre de Betak talks Fashion Show Revolution with Phaidon's William Norwich in New York
And the special guests included Vogue's Sally Singer and graphic designer Patrick Li
Fresh from his appearance at Dover Street Market in London, Alexandre de Betak hosted a talk at Parsons School of Design, University Center on Fifth Avenue New York last night, chaired by Phaidon’s own William Norwich.
The producer of more than 1,000 of the fashion world’s most spectacular live shows, events and exhibitions held a sell out crowd of fashion students rapt, describing his work for brands such as Nike, Christian Dior, Victoria’s Secret and Michael Kors.
He was joined by Sally Singer, Vogue's creative digital director, and the author of the introduction to Betak: Fashion Show Revolution, alongside the book's designer Patrick Li of the design studio Li Inc.
Alex talked a lot about the details of his work. He told students that he took some of the influence for his legendarily dramatic use of light from a Dan Flavin installation in the old Dia Center. “I like to work with the choreography, the attitude and the light. I like to sync the environment - it is not just a spontaneous gesture! We see deeply into all these details.” And he revealed that he'd worked with budgets of millions of dollars and budgets of just thousands. “In our world, smaller budgets give us a lot more creative freedom than big budgets. When you have no budget you have complete freedom,” he said.
Talking about the lasting perception of a brand created by the way Alex chose to present it, Sally Singer laughed when she said: “When I think of Michael Kors I think of ABBA - and that’s because of Alex." Similarly, she added, "with Rodarte I always think of the lighting - the clothes are lit in a very modern way. I know the brand well but what Alex does with it carries over. It’s absolutely not secondary.”
Touching on the current debate around sexual harassment in the fashion industry Betak said: “I don’t think the fashion community should address sexual harassment any differently than anyone else. But fashion has a louder and louder voice, it's followed by so many people so it has a responsibility in the way that big Hollywood celebrities did.
Sally Singer also said that the fashion world had a duty to show a way forward. "If we want a world that’s beautiful - wear beautiful things, responsible things that are made responsibly. And if we want women to be empowered we have to make clothes that do that."
Wrapping up the talk they talked about the collaborative process - “Some designers have a clear fashion view - others talk more about dreams and emotions,” Ales said. They also talked about the process that went into making the book.
In Betak: Fashion Show Revolution, Betak offers unprecedented access to his archives, revealing how over the course of his twenty five-year career, he has transformed the fashion show into its own bona-fide art form. Buy Betak: Fashion Show Revolution here.