In Conversation with Herve Pierre

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Atelier Caito for Herve Pierre is the brainchild of designer Herve Pierre and patternmaker Nicolas Caito, which was established in 2017. The collection stemmed from what they saw as a gap in the market for the perfect dress, incorporating both craftsmanship and superior design. We sat down with Pierre to hear more about his childhood, his education in Paris, and his first memory of Bergdorf Goodman. See more below and shop his collection now available in store on 4.

Bergdorf Goodman: Can you tell us about your childhood and first memory of fashion?

Herve Pierre: I was a toddler and it really was something that started at an early age. Funny enough my mother is still friends with my kindergarten teacher and she kept all of my sketches from when I was 5 or 6 years old. It’s interesting to see that I was already sketching as a kindergartener, which was good for my parents because usually when you have kids it’s like, “What are we going to do with him, what are we going to do with her?”

As a kid, I was raised in a restaurant and a hotel so I was always used to seeing people dressed up. The hotel was an old mansion that was built in the late 16th century and they kept adding wings so the hotel was not a typical corridor with all the rooms on the side.

BG: Can you tell us about your studies?

HP: It was very stiff. I believe it was almost the opposite end of the spectrum of Central Saint Martins where you can express yourself. You have to put everything back into the times. We had teachers that worked directly with Monsieur Balenciaga, with Mademoiselle Chanel, with Schiaparelli. Madame Grés gave me my degree, so it was the last few years where everything was very technical. We were working with references and quotes like, “Monsieur Dior would have said that,” “Mademoiselle Chanel would have never done that,” and it wasn’t really fashion or style, it was really about true craftsmanship. We were very free to express ourselves, however you needed to have a serious technical background to pass.

BG: How long was your education at Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture?

HP: I did it in two years. It is typically done in three, but I had a good portfolio and was allowed to skip the first year. I had to do training quickly to be able to go directly into the second year, so I was lucky.

BG: Can you tell us about your brand aesthetic?

HP: I created the house with my colleague Nicolas Caito. So the brand was born with the collaboration of a designer and a head pattern maker, which is what it has to be if you want to deliver clothes at this price point. When you look at fashion like a cake and the slices as categories, there are a lot of brands that fit into the same slice and I cannot compete with those big brands. We want her to be chic, where she can stand out in a room without screaming a specific season.

I prefer to answer to a woman’s need for what she cannot find because at the end of the day, it’s the woman that’s going to wear the clothing so I prefer to listen and give my proposition of what she could wear according to her need.

BG: Can you tell us about your early work experience?

HP: When I left Écoles de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, I never really wanted to open my own brand. I always wanted to work for a big house like Dior and Balmain, which I was able to do. Then I came to New York to work with Oscar de La Renta, and I eventually became the Creative Director of Carolina Hererra for 15 years. I always felt much better in a bigger boat, within a larger structure. I felt secure.

BG: Can you tell us the inspiration for your next collection?

HP: Inspiration for me is to listen to the customer and to listen to their needs. When I create a dress I always think of where this woman is going and if there is no destination, it’s a lost dress, which I learned from Herrera.

BG: Can you tell us your first memory of Bergdorf Goodman?

HP: I went to Bergdorf Goodman the very first day I arrived in New York. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon in May 1995 before my first day at Oscar de la Renta. When I stepped foot inside the store I was absolutely overwhelmed. A few months later, I discovered the Christmas windows. I didn’t even know it was possible to do these kinds of things, it was mind-blowing for me.  The craftsmanship is really incredible and doesn’t exist anywhere else.

 

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