PARIS — “I left Gucci yesterday. I’m at DVF today,” Yvan Mispelaere, Diane von Furstenberg’s next creative director, marveled Tuesday as he sat down to lunch after whizzing around Paris all morning with his peripatetic new boss.
Described as a very “tactile” designer with a soft spot for the Art Deco and Bauhaus periods, along with the design canon of Yves Saint Laurent, Mispelaere’s full imprint will be felt at Diane von Furstenberg with the spring-summer 2011 collection to be shown in New York this fall.
“I hope Yvan will immediately put his signature on the collection,” the designer said in her first joint interview with Mispelaere, an alumnus of Chloé, Valentino, Louis Féraud and other brands. “I’m curious to see his slant. But it will still be DVF.”
Von Furstenberg noted many fashion houses engage new designers to rescue or jump-start a business, which is not the case in this instance. “I’m not looking for a doctor,” she said. “He’s not coming to save the ship. He’s only coming to make it better.”
Even as she expands into emerging markets and categories like beauty and home décor, von Furstenberg said making the company bigger is not her top priority. “I’m looking for better in everything,” she said. “My focus is improving the product…bringing the fashion and accessories to the next level.”
At DVF, Mispelaere succeeds Nathan Jenden, who is leaving to focus on his own, namesake line, as reported.
Mispelaere, 42, just wound up a stint as Gucci’s women’s ready-to-wear design director. And while he’s worked for a range of mostly luxury houses, he said he’s just as comfortable in other price zones and has consulted for a Chinese apparel group and the mid-range Italian player Anteprima. Before packing up his life in Italy and relocating to New York, he said he plans a trip to Asia to meet with some of DVF’s production partners. The designer studied both science and fine art before embarking on a fashion career, and said he’s equally skilled in dresses and tailoring. “I love the sensuality of materials. There’s something very physical about it,” he said.
Sharing an anecdote that illustrates their synchronicity, von Furstenberg said she asked Mispelaere to make a card for her birthday, which falls at the end of December. Instead came an elaborate scrapbook of writings, drawings and collages, packaged in a brown lacquer box with an eye depicted on the top.
“The day before my husband gave me this,” she said, pulling off a bracelet with the exact same motif. “So now I have two eyes,” she added, flashing a big smile.