pablo Cop­pola


DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

Find out what the “new” dandy kid on the fine menswear block is re­ally like right from the de­signer him­self

The way a per­son takes his time be­fore re­spond­ing to ca­sual ques­tions, how he for­mu­lates his ideas and how he weaves his train of thought can say a lot about his man­ner­isms and abil­ity as a de­signer. There is a cau­tious ap­proach—a cen­sor­ing mind, if you will—that care­fully scru­ti­nizes each de­tail that is said or, in the case of fash­ion de­sign, each lit­tle de­tail that is put into a po­ten­tial mas­ter­piece. And when Pablo Cop­pola, who sits as de­sign di­rec­tor at Bally, pro­fessed that he’s still— or maybe will for­ever be—fas­ci­nated by fash­ion ac­ces­sories, it all made sense.

The Ar­gen­tinean di­rec­tor has been ac­knowl­edged by many as a strong agent of change, bring­ing the clas­sic and, some might say, com­pla­cent Swiss brand back to a trend- con­scious stance. The re­sult is ob­vi­ous, and the brand’s fall/win­ter ’16/’17 col­lec­tion waxes lyri­cal of menswear that draws chic ref­er­ences from the ’60s but looks pos­i­tively to the fu­ture. Rel­e­vance is now the brand’s modus operandi, and this is on top of a re­mark­able his­tory span­ning 165 years of a com­pany whose hik­ing boots took part in the first suc­cess­ful hu­man ex­pe­di­tion to the high­est point of Mount Ever­est.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Cop­pola’s re­sume is more than im­pres­sive: He cut his fash­ion de­sign teeth at the In­sti­tut Française de la Mode in Paris, fol­lowed by stints as ac­ces­sories de­signer at Cé­line, Burberry, Alexan­der McQueen, Tom Ford and Chris­tian Dior. As of Septem­ber 2013 he joined Bally as ac­ces­sories de­sign di­rec­tor, be­fore be­ing pro­moted to de­sign di­rec­tor in Fe­bru­ary 2014. Given such an il­lus­tri­ous back­ground, at­ten­tion to de­tail comes nat­u­ral to Cop­pola. That’s why the “new” Bally is worth re- dis­cov­er­ing up close and per­sonal.

DA MAN: What is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Bally’s men’s fall/win­ter ’16/’17 col­lec­tion? Pablo Cop­pola: David Hock­ney and the Lon­don set, a sort of con­tem­po­rary dandy.

DA: What is the most chal­leng­ing part of pre­par­ing this col­lec­tion?

PC: We al­ways work with many ref­er­ences, which are of­ten very dif­fer­ent from one to another. So, the hard­est task is to edit our­selves in or­der to cre­ate a con­sis­tent col­lec­tion.

DA: See­ing as to how there are mixes of prints and bright- col­ored shoes on some looks, how do you con­sti­tute men’s for­mal­wear to­day? PC: I try to ap­proach de­sign­ing for­mal­wear in a light and ca­sual man­ner … so, not too se­ri­ous and with a lit­tle touch of hu­mor.

DA: From the looks shown, “dandy” seems to be a fit­ting de­scrip­tion. But is the menswear in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly Bally, ready to leave last year’s ath­letic trends be­hind?

PC: Not at all. To­day, you have a to­tally dif­fer­ent type of dandy. He likes his de­signer sneak­ers, a leather outer­wear piece in a par­tic­u­lar color and prob­a­bly would also mix a printed pajama shirt with a fan­tas­tic tai­lor­ing piece.

DA: The brand seems to be tak­ing on more con­tem­po­rary styles than ever with you at the helm. Do you see this as a ne­ces­sity or sim­ply a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion? PC: I don’t think it is a ne­ces­sity. It is more about our will to update our­selves and cre­ate pieces that feel right for now.

DA: The shoes are beau­ti­ful, and the wo­ven sneak­ers are any­thing but or­di­nary. Where do you start when de­sign­ing shoes?

PC: Our de­sign process is very or­ganic. We can start with an im­age, an evo­lu­tion of an ex­ist­ing Bally style or, very of­ten, a ref­er­ence to a shoe from our archives. There are no rules … we trust our in­stinct, and when you have some­thing good in front of you, you could in­stinc­tively feel that it is right.

DA: The leather bags are equally ex­quis­ite. Do you em­ploy dif­fer­ent de­sign prin­ci­ples when de­sign­ing bags for men and women?

PC: With bags, we nor­mally start with the leather, then the style of the bag: Is it a hand­bag or lug­gage; is it soft or struc­tured; what em­bel­lish­ments do we want to add?

DA: You’ve been with Bally for three years so far. What was your opin­ion of the brand be­fore you de­cided to join in?

PC: For me, Bally was sort of a sleepy brand … a lit­tle dusty maybe, which in some sort of way made it ap­peal­ing to me. I soon dis­cov­ered that Bally was so much more when I vis­ited the archives in Schö­nen­werd where there were more than 34,000 shoes! It had an un­tapped po­ten­tial that was not clear to me from the out­side … and my task was to bring that to life.

DA: And, of course, you did that with your own de­sign aes­thet­ics.

PC: I like to play with con­trasts, es­pe­cially when styling the col­lec­tions … and I like the idea that noth­ing is what it seems. I tend to ref­er­ence the ’60s or ’70s, as it is my fa­vorite era. I like the free­dom and the mix of cul­tures … like if you could travel through time … and just pick things you love the most.


DA: Given your back­ground, is de­sign­ing clothes eas­ier than de­sign­ing ac­ces­sories?

PC: It’s quite dif­fer­ent, but clothes or ready-to-wear pieces are new to me, so I par­tic­u­larly en­joy it. But, ac­ces­sories are still my big­gest pas­sion. DA: Do you have any par­tic­u­lar muses when de­sign­ing menswear for Bally? PC: Not in par­tic­u­lar … but it is true that I of­ten look at eclec­tic char­ac­ters. DA: We see more and more brands tak­ing ma­jor steps such as uni­fy­ing their shows and go­ing sea­son-less. Will Bally do the same? PC: There is clearly a need to re­think the way we show the prod­uct, but it is the amount of col­lec­tions we have to pro­duce that is the prob­lem. You need time to de­velop and ex­e­cute con­cepts … they don’t hap­pen overnight. I feel more com­fort­able do­ing it the old way, but if this be­comes the new nor­mal, then maybe we need to re­think it. For the mo­ment, I would rather watch from the side­lines.

DA: Af­ter the launch of Shoe­pe­dia, what’s the next big thing we can ex­pect from Bally?

PC: Shoe­pe­dia is an on­go­ing project, which is fo­cused on user-gen­er­ated con­tent. There are a few projects in the pipe­line … but noth­ing I can dis­close as of now. DA: What are the three most im­por­tant things you’ve learned so far from work­ing in fash­ion? PC: To work hard, trust my in­stinct and to col­lab­o­rate with the peo­ple around you. DA: Lastly, do you have a fa­vorite quote that you al­ways carry with you? PC: Just do it!

clock­wise One of the sea­son’s white sneak­ers; Bally’s modern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a bucket bag; dandy prints on a shirt op­po­site page A glam­orous and dandy evening look

from left The sea­son’s most col­or­ful jacket; taste­ful leather col­ors on dif­fer­ent ac­ces­sories op­po­site page A snappy win­ter look from Bally

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