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Last year Paris-based André Saraiva directed a short film for Giorgio Armani, designed a luggage line for Globe-Trotter and stepped in as creative director of the French men’s fashion magazine L’Officiel Hommes. Now he’s working on a book for Rizzoli that traces his rise from a renegade graffiti artist to the multitasker behind chic clubs, restaurants and hotels—from Le Baron to La Fidélité to Hotel Ermitage—in locations as far flung as Tokyo and Saint-Tropez. Oh, and he’s also an artist. Just wait till Disney sees his sculpture of Mickey Mouse.
What’s the most cherished item in your wardrobe?
A vintage American pilot jacket that I found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Los Angeles, like, 15 years ago.
My friend Gildas Loaec from [music and clothing label] Kitsuné just released the same jacket, only with different cotton linings. We also designed a line of boxer shorts in matching fabrics.
Which is your favorite underwear label?
I don’t wear underwear. I’m French—I like to smoke cigarettes and get naked.
Some people liken you to Fonzie of Happy Days. Is he a style hero of yours?
Yeah, I used to wear a Fonzie T-shirt just to make fun of myself and my greasy hair. I like the Fifties. I like Marlon Brando in The Wild One.
Tell us about your latest fashion projects.
Well, there’s the luggage line for Globe- Trotter [due in stores this spring]. It’s handmade, very old-school. I travel a lot, so I know a lot about good suitcases. I’m also going to design some limited edition sneakers with Nike that will only be available in my nightclubs. A long time ago, they did a pair of shoes for Studio 54, so it’s kind of a nod to that.
And your book?
It’s going to be like an atlas: all the continents of the different things I’ve done since I began doing my graffiti at age 13. The idea is for it to be ready for next Christmas. It will be published by Rizzoli.
Are you still active in the art world?
I’m preparing an art show for June, for a fun new gallery called The Hole, on Bowery in New York….It will be my first solo show in America. There will be some of my old works but mainly a lot of new sculptures….I’ve made these buildings that are like little fantasy clubs, each with its own lighting and sound, that you can’t really get into because they’re too small—clubs for ants. There will also be
a series of my Mickey Mouse sculpture with the big penis. I don’t know if that will go down well in America—the big Mickey. It’s going to be fun.
What’s in the next issue of L’Officiel Hommes?
With old men’s magazines, you always had to have a naked girl, so there’s a naked story. Coeur de Pirate, the French-Canadian singer, features on a middle poster that you can fold out. We styled her like a pinup. It’s cool, very Bettie Page-meets-Pierre Molinier.
Are your various fashion projects part of a grand plan to launch your own fashion brand, or to open a store?
I had that store at the Palais de Tokyo, which was good fun but crazy in terms of the workload. But if Louis Vuitton asked me to take over its art direction, I would love that. They could handle the sales and production side of things; we would just have to invent funny things to do.
Have you ever been approached for that kind of role?
[Laughs.] No, they’re scared of me.