The Wallis designer made his debut at Paris Fashion Week this week, presenting 31 looks that chronicle the history of his brand. He trusts it with emotion.
Slow but sure. That’s how you could sum up Kevin Germanier’s rise in the fashion world. Walliser, 30, has just experienced his first Paris Fashion Week as a stylist with his Germanier brand. He presented 31 outfits at Maison Baccarat, located in the 16th arrondissement.
At the end of the row, he remembers moving his childhood when he dressed his sister with sheets. The designer then went to a wonderful school in London and created a colorful and unique style by recycling fabrics that no one wanted. “I didn’t care about the environment, but I didn’t have any money,” he says. This detail eventually becomes his trademark and propels him into one of the most prominent designers of the moment. Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Björk or even Taylor Swift wear his creations, but for the Romand there is no question of taking the big head. He answers our questions with great humility and proves that he knows how to keep his feet on the ground.
How was your first show at Paris Fashion Week?
At that time, the makers do not see much, because the girls are launched on the catwalk. But the media attention and sales results that followed were very good. Everything was perfect. This is the first time I’m proud of myself. There was a nice energy even behind the scenes. I was touched to see that a return to humanity is in vogue. People were happy to be there and we felt a good vibe.
Tell us about the collection you just presented.
In total we had about forty looks. We have made the decision to present 31 of them for a more qualitative representation. You should also know that some people would be introduced to the German world for the first time. So I took over all the classics of the brand: the silicone embroidery, the large feather dresses, the knitting of my Wallis team and a small novelty with beaded hooks. All these techniques that we have applied since the beginning have been highlighted.
Who is this Wallis team?
It all started when my mom fell asleep to “Top Chef”. She then offered to knit for me. My grandmother Simone followed her lead. One thing led to another, there are now 16, including my mother’s yoga teacher, my aunts, my cousins, my sister’s mother-in-law… It has become a small community that works to make Germanier’s knitwear.
A real family business, right?
Yes that is it. People must think I make feather dresses, but in the end I am an entrepreneur. I’m not drawing with a piece of paper all day. This image of the designer is now completely false.
Was designer the only job that interested you?
I’ve wanted this since I was 3 years old. I always try to find a nice story, but it’s very cliché. When I was little, I used to dress my sister with sheets. I was also interested in anatomy. I wanted to know how muscles work… I then went to Geneva for a preparatory year in fashion and went to Central Saint Martins in London.
The greatest couturiers graduated from this school, such as Stella McCartney and John Galliano. What memories do you have of it?
I learned nothing there except to survive. Finally, it is the most important thing that we can be taught. We were always alone. There’s a reason it’s the best school in the world. I arrived as a hidden little Swiss and came out with the most colorful collection. They still have many things unlocked.
Were the studies complicated?
They purposely give us a lot of work so that we learn to prioritize. But that’s not how I was raised. In Switzerland we are told that we have to be perfect everywhere. These studies shocked me. I remember a teacher once gave me an F . gave (note: the lowest score) when I returned the work. I had slept all night to produce everything. He said to me: “It’s very good, but I think it can do you good to face failures”. It made me so mad. My Swiss brain didn’t understand what was going on. I understood then that failure is also part of the profession and that it was a good lesson. Finally, I would rather learn from my mistakes at school than on my first show.
Did you already think of Germanier during your bachelor years?
No, I never wanted to have my own brand. Even before I graduated, Louis Vuitton offered me a job. It was kind of my childhood dream come true. I immediately accepted, but I promised my mother that I would finish my studies. Having job security, I allowed myself to be a little crazier in my collection presented at the end of the school year. When I was at Louis Vuitton, I always made some clothes in my spare time. Alexandre Capelli, deputy environmental director at LVMH, told me: “It’s too stupid! You do all those looks and nobody sees them. Continue! Let’s expose them.” It was very small. A buyer came and took everything. It was the beginning of Germanier.
You only use recycled products for your brand. Was it obvious to make it your DNA?
No. When I came to London to study, I didn’t have much money. School fees were already very expensive. Instead of buying white cotton for 6 francs a meter, I went to Caritas or Emmaüs to get a white cotton sheet for 1 franc for two meters. In the end, it was my Swiss side wanting to manage my wallet that led me to upcycling† My goal has never been to save the planet. I’m very candid about this. It happened because I had no choice. It was easier to buy scraps than new fabrics.
Now your looks are worn by many celebrities such as Björk, Taylor Swift, Rihanna or Lady Gaga. How does that affect you?
It is also very short-lived. Mind you, I’m not ungrateful at all. That means I’m just as happy to see my mother dressed in Germanier when she comes to my show, as I am to see Lady Gaga wearing my outfit. For example, I get a lot more likes on Instagram when I post a picture of my mom with my grandma than when I post a picture of a celebrity. People need authenticity. You need to stop thinking that if Beyoncé hasn’t worn your outfits, you’re irrelevant. I’m sorry, Beyoncé isn’t hitting my sales. There are not very well-known brands that work very well, because they have a very nice product. As a young designer you sometimes feel guilty for not working with big stars. Ultimately, these celebrities make sure you only have 24 hours of fallout. The main thing is to have a quality product. The rest will follow.