Suzanne von Aichinger is a modern archetype of the Parisian muse, in spite of the fact that she was born in Germany, and grew up in Canada.
She was discovered by the legendary illustrator Antonio Lopez, whom she considers to be one of the great influences in her life, as well as a very close friend. She inspired and collaborated closely in the design studios, with Christian Lacroix, John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier. Suzanne von Aichinger posed for iconic photographers Serge Lutens, Paolo Roversi, Mario Testino, Jean Loup Sieff, Ali Madhavi, David Seidner, and strutted down the catwalks of Yves St Laurent, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Gianni Versace, Christian Dior (Galliano) , Hermes, Martin Margiela, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens with the irresistible charm of their song, lured mariners to their destruction on the rocks surrounding their island..
KALI, Suzanne von Aichinger wears a Rick Owens cape and gloves, all FW2011. Photography by René Habermacher
I always liked her and when we finally became friends, I liked her even more. In the following conversation Suzanne shares her thoughts on fashion, music, talent, the water, mythology and other obscurities. You are about to discover the muse, the model, the artist, the stylist..
I caught her leg on her daybreak between styling for a Vogue photo shoot and organizing a major project.
FILEP MOTWARY: Hi beautiful? So it was very difficult to catch you in the past two months. What have you been up to?
SUZANNE von AICHINGER: I know Filep. I’ve been a little like Houdini…escaping. But for a good reason. I had plenty of work and styling projects
Tell me more about it please. It seems you work non-stop.
It’s been good for me lately. I’ve been styling some perfume campaigns, editorials for Russian Vogue, Italian Vanity Fair, doing photos with Dita, and now I’m preparing another perfume campaign, and a major photo shoot with one of the MOST gorgeous women on the planet.
Oh Gosh, indeed its a lot. You mean the actress, Elisa Sednaoui? Ali posted a shot of her on twitter…
Oh what a beauty Elisa is!!! But, I’m referring to another lady…very iconic. I don’t know if I should say who it is. I don’t like to talk about things before they come out…
I understand. How easy it is for you to collaborate with people. What a concept needs to have in order to get you involved in it?
Collaborating with people is my ultimate way of creating. I find the dynamic of working with another or others, stimulating, and proven a successful way of expression for me.
How do you make your choices? Is money an important motive or not always?
There has to be an element that compels me, something that excites my imagination. I also have to feel that I have something relevant to bring to the story. Money is very often not a motive. But, sometimes it is an essential part of creation. We must also live, make a living, etc. You have to know when to give and when to sell!! There is no shame in being paid for a job well done. Andy Warhol considered making money the highest art form. I’m not sure that I adhere to this philosophy, but I don’t love being broke either. I like the freedom that having some cash on hand can procure you.
On the other hand there might be talented people, who would love your contribution but, lets say, cannot afford you. How would you react in such conditions?
I usually say YES to a project, which stimulates me. It’s not about the $$$. It’s about the action. I believe in working with people that I consider talented or kindred spirits. As people of great talent have wanted to work with me, when I had no money to pay them. Just for the sheer joy of seeing an idea become a reality.
I wanted to ask you about the photo shoot you just did with René Habermacher. It’s so iconic, yet in a very special way. How was working with René?
I loved it. We had a beautiful day together, with a great creative team. We wanted to express in this series, something that is based more on personality, than fashion. I feel that there are many stories to be told in my future with René. There is a quality in his vision that is very strong and appealing.
CASSANDRA, Suzanne von Aichinger wears a Rick Owens dress, boots and gloves, all FW2011.
Photography by René Habermacher
Exactly my point. The photographs serve our conversation so right! I’m very happy that Rick Owens was so positive when I contacted him for the garments. He is always so nice to me. Also for the fact that we shot his winter collection which is by far my favorite!
So am I! I LOVE Rick! He is one of my favorites. And, his fashion is timeless. I know that this can sound cliché, but if you have some pieces by Rick from 12 years ago, they are as relevant as pieces that he has made 2 days ago. They don’t go in and out of fashion. They have their own essence and place.
Having in mind that Rick’s clothes are so special, yet the 2000’s are the epitome of diversity. Each designer points out a different outline every season, there is so much choice. How do you see fashion now yourself, as a stylist?
It’s hard for me to answer this. I see many great things happening, no doubt. But, I see a lot of nonsense going on as well. There is not enough power any more in the hands of the creators. Now, big design houses change designers like they change their underwear. Just ridiculous. There is no time for the designer in place to create a brand identity, that he is fired. And very often, they find out that they’ve been fired, by reading about it in the papers.
It’s as if the financial/commercial people at the heads of some houses, envied the position of creator, and wished to usurp it. They believe that they are capable of being the creator. WRONG!!!! Read the rest of this entry »
What is Pop ? What is Youth ? What’s up with the French Touch ? How do you change and remain true to yourself ?
Last part of our YELLE interview…
YELLE by René Habermacher, in Marios Schwab FW 2011/12. Styled by Inès Fendri. Make-up by Akiko Sakamoto.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: YELLE is just the 3 of you, but sometimes it’ just refers to Julie, especially because there is “elle” in YELLE… How do you manage this YELLE = 3 or YELLE = 1 ? I guess it’s a bit like THE RITA MITSOUKO — they needed to explain that the singer was not RITA MITSOUKO so they added THE — you don’t feel the need to become THE YELLE ?
JEFF: Actually on the album cover, (photo by Grégoire Alexandre, style Jean Paul Lespagnard) you have the 3 of us, but it wasn’t planned, it was just the best picture from the session. We thought “this photo is strong” and that’s it, not “oh it’d be good to show us as a band.” Naturally we also show ourselves as a trio because after all these years of touring, it becomes natural. But we’ve completely accepted the pop rule that the singer gets more exposure, she carries the group in a way, and it’s fine that way.
Our discussion with Julie, Jean-François and Tanguy, moves to touring — an essential element to the success of YELLE — and the need for a record label in 2011…
Yelle in Marios Schwab FW 2011. By René Habermacher, styling Ines Fendri, make-up by Akiko Sakamoto.
When you play live, do you try to add other things visually, like with the Katy Perry tour for which you’re opening ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Well as opening act we have actually less means on the Katy Perry tour!
JULIE: Normally we’re 6 on tour, with the sounds, the lights, the stage, but on Katy Perry we’re just 4.
Also we don’t give our whole show away, it’s more of a teaser — anyway we know Katy Perry is following up with 4 trucks so there’s no use trying!
JEAN-FRANÇOIS:: We want to make our show stronger, so we have these suspended drums which are very visual, the logo, which is new – an inverted Peace sign. We like bringing in new elements, whether they cost 20 euros or 2000, but we’re not in a fantasy of something crazy. However from the beginning we’ve wanted to make one-off shows, like with a choir, big ensembles…
You were also mentioning new lights for your tour ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: We found this guy for lights, we were looking for a long time for someone who would bring something to our live performances,
someone who’s creative on his own but open to our ideas…
TANGUY: We need that extra, because we’re coming a second time around but without huge means, we want to make a show with songs we’re proud of — lighting is really the little ‘plus’ that we can bring.
So would you want to make a “live” music video to show people who don’t know how you perform ?
TANGUY: We thought about it at the end of the last tour, with all that footage [shot by “Ce Jeu” director Yoann Lemoine],
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: We just haven’t been able to edit it yet… we could have done as a single, but not for the first single of the album — but we’ll do it eventually.
"Ce Jeu" music video by Yoann Lemoine. Photo by Antoine Asseraf.
I still have a hard drive somewhere saying YELLE with all your tour footage, I was asked to help edit it “when I had time”, I was really into it but documentary editing takes so. much. time.
JULIE: And you can’t do just one hour per day, you need to really get into it…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Even us, we don’t even feel like going back in there right away, you kind of need to put those images aside and let them rest, but we would like them to show them at some point.
It looked like an amazing experience.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: There were some beautiful images…
Trailer for the 2008 Yelle world tour, by Yoann Lemoine.
What’s your idea of the role of the record label, since you started without one and were without one for this album, you also released things without a label in between albums…
JULIE: We learned a lot from the time we had at Source, good things, bad things, some things we didn’t want to do the same way again, it was evident for us that we had to make our own structure, to get even more freedom.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: To sum things up, on the first album we had ideas but not the means, now we have both!
For the first album you worked with Pierre LeNy, acting as an artistic director of sorts…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: Yes Pierre brought a lot of ideas, a lot of contacts, a network, in fashion, which made it a lot of easier, now we’re the art directors, it’s the next level.
Second music video for "Je Veux Te Voir".
How was that experience of remaking the video for JE VEUX TE VOIR – doesn’t it feel strange ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: That was a flashback [a lot of time had passed since the original release of JE VEUX TE VOIR]. First of all we hate the first music video for JE VEUX TE VOIR, we hated it as soon as we made it.
But you’re not always in a position to say no to a label who’s invested, we still hate the fact that it has so many million views!!
The new video was made with Nicolas Benamou following the experience with Michael Youn, it’s the work of a label, who feels there’s a second life to give to a single,
it was so strange for YELLE, when they first brought the single to radios, they didn’t know what to make of it, but once they had gotten used to it it was ok… it’s really the work of the record label.
So are you at ease with that freedom ? Talking to Roísín Murphy who has done many things herself over the years in terms of styling and ideas for music videos, she was still happy to have worked with an art director on OVERPOWERED, to sharpen the image.
JEFF: We’ve never felt forced, we’ve never had the record label pressuring us, at first we were a bit naive, everyone’s nice, we were just happy to do things, and except for that first video we enjoyed everything we did.
We’ve always been masters of our image, but of course somethings get out of hand, get bigger than you expect them, doing things by ourselves is exciting, it makes us feel more responsible. the DIY style is very stimulating, you want to defend your project even more because all the choices are yours.
Of course it becomes 100% of your life! So when you say “I’m going to relax, i’m going to the beach” you’re not really relaxing because you’re thinking about what you could do. But that’s the case with everyone who’s a freelance or has their own company, it’s an obsession!
YELLE — Julie, Jean-François and Tanguy — burst onto the music scene in 2006 with their UFO bubble-gum-techno-rap “Je Veux Te Voir”. Since then they’ve collaborated with the likes of Katy Perry, Crookers and Robyn, and seduced audiences all over the world. They’re basically the first French-singing band to achieve international success since the Rita Mitsoukos. Now they return with their second album, SAFARI DISCO CLUB.
For this 3 part interview, René Habermacher shot Julie exclusively for THE STIMULEYE wearing the new MARIOS SCHWAB Fall/Winter 2011 collection. Styled by Ines Fendri, Make-Up by Akiko Sakamoto.
Yelle in Marios Schwab FW 2011. By René Habermacher, styling Ines Fendri, make-up by Akiko Sakamoto.
ANTOINE ASSERAF: Let’s talk about your new album first, SAFARI DISCO CLUB, there’s an immediate visual concept from the name to the album and on to the double music video…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS aka “GrandMarnier”: Actually it’s something that was not there to start with but added at the end. We found the name SAFARI DISCO CLUB very late into the process, at the last minute almost. We thought we should keep things simple, find 2 tracks from the album to start with.
The most inspiring track in terms of visual adaptation was SAFARI DISCO CLUB. This double-theme made us naturally think of Jean-Paul Lespagnard [whose styles had inspired the CE JEU video] and his penchant for double-themes, for juxtapositions. So we discussed it with him, with some references such as the final scene of Luc Besson’s SUBWAY, in explorer mode.
The only thing I remember about this film is Isabelle Adjani’s punk “fuck you” dinner scene…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It turns out that Julie’s hair in the video is not far from Isabelle Adjani’s, but that’s pure coincidence…
But the explorer look, that was something stuck in my head — it’s a bit why I started to get into music: I was such a big fan of Jean Reno playing the drums in the subway as a kid, it left an impression on me. So this final scene where they play music dressed like explorers was the starting points for Jean-Paul to work from…
So, do you feel that this SAFARI DISCO name applies to the album as a whole ?
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It definitely gives a tinge — from the moment we had the title, we listened to the tracks differently, you hear the percussions more. The word “safari” also brings the meaning of “discovery,” which works because we had applied ourselves to making all the songs very distinct. We feel very much part of the compilation generation!
It all works out in the end, but once again it wasn’t thought out that way, we made the songs really one by one.
There are some African vibes in the title track and on LA MUSIQUE…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: There is a percussion side, coming from the live… Julie has a Tom Bass, we have these suspended drums, we really base ourselves on the percussions for the live show, constructed a bit like a DJ set, with transitions — that really rubbed off on the way we composed for this album.
TANGUY “TEPR”: We didn’t want to copy anything, it’s just a slight tinge, nothing too ‘in your face’…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: On SDC itself, the most obvious thing in terms of inspiration is the guitar gimmick which is almost Zouk.
Both LA MUSIQUE and SAFARI DISCO CLUB are very instrumental tracks, very percussion-driven, you’re in a sonic trip with words just guiding you on your way…
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: It’s less constructed.
JULIE: Less of a traditional song format.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS: The voice is used more like an instrument, on POP-UP it was more spoken.
TANGUY: Julie’s way of singing changed, not in a calculated way but gradually while writing — it was very spoken and broken on POP UP, on SAFARI DISCO you find this style only on one track really: COMME UN ENFANT. We wanted to try new things. Read the rest of this entry »