Votre AMI: Alexandre Mattiussi

Words & Photography :
Freya Gnaedig

You’ve probably heard of Parisian brand AMI but have you met the man behind it? Alexandre Mattiussi founded his brand nine years ago and its name that means “friend” in French is also the overall sentiment of his philosophy and approach to everything. Two hours before his SS21 catwalk show we sat down by the river Seine (which was also the setting for the show) where Alexandre gave us an insight into his world that is full of warmth, team spirit and positivity.

FG: What are the main inspirations for your womenswear collection this season?
AM: It starts within this context, we were in an artistic and emotional blur, the confinement, the feeling that everything was going to end, that we perhaps had to rethink our lives, our patterns, even our spirituality. I didn’t panic because I’m an optimist by nature but it took me a few weeks to take the time to think. That’s why I took a step back, I didn’t necessarily communicate on social media. Others did it and needed to express things very strongly and very quickly and I gave myself a period of reflection to finally get to a point where I thought that retrospectively as a brand we had done a great job, created a beautiful legacy, that AMI is a lovely story and that we had to concentrate on the essentials like I had done at the very beginning, I felt like I did back then, at the beginning of it all. I was confined in the office alone, my teams were working from home and I was being obligated to do things I no longer did alone. I always have a lot of people around me, I collaborate with my team all the time, AMI is pure teamwork. I was alone at the office, choosing my fabrics on my own, opening the door for the DHL, I scanned the invoices for the accountant, I answered the phones and at the same time, I designed my collection, with my teams from afar. We went straight to the end-goal, we really did something that I hope is real, beautiful, pure, very AMI and at the same time very poetic, very gentle, I love this collection.
FG: How does it feel to show your collection on the womenswear calendar after nine years on the menswear schedule?
AM: It’s a beautiful opportunity, we have to seize it like an exceptional opportunity. I don’t think I would have entered the Wwoman’s calendar like that, I don’t think I would have wanted to, it wasn’t a desire of mine. I find that the men’s, at least the calendar is very comfortable in a positive way because there is less pressure on us, it’s less hysterical, also I do not work for that. I don’t work for the fame or the celebrity, I truly work to be a great designer, to make beautiful clothes for my customers who come every season and give me their loyalty and trust by buying our clothes. We thought this was an opportunity, we are all in the same boat right now, there is no competition clearly. We sense it is a calm Fashion Week, it’s gentle and delicate and that makes me happy.
FG: The success with AMI amongst women has been fantastic. Is the future of fashion having more gender-neutral alternatives?
AM: Yes clearly, it think it’s a question I never asked myself, and without wanting to pressure anything, because it’s pointless to enforce anything, however in my casting today I met young people, people from very different backgrounds that I had not met in a very long time. It was also a way for me to distance myself from the bourgeois side, not that I’ve ever fully identified with it, but there is a system in the fashion industry where you always need to have the model of the moment, “the thing” but here it really was a gathering of personalities who are free, who are real. A casting with men who are 20-25 years old, they are undefined, they wear skirts, dresses, they wear colours where you wouldn’t have imagined it but without losing their masculinity and for others being fully comfortable with their feminine side. My stores, in the near future, will be able to gather both collections at once, there won’t be a floor for men and women, there will be womenswear pieces amongst the men’s, we shall see how our customers react, but I certainly do not believe you should impose things and you need to let people chose whatever they want to purchase. The presentation of the store and the garments should not influence the natural desire to gravitate towards a piece and think: “I love this top or I do not like the colour, oh this looks like it’s for a woman but I still want to try it on”. That’s how I met my female customer base, they would come into the men’s stores for years and say: “this sweater suits me as well”.
FG: Your work at AMI is always so personal and inclusive, for both men and women, are these values that you deem essential when it comes to fashion?
AM: Not only within fashion, but these are also values that are important at all times and for everything. My parents raised me to have an open mind, to be respectful, to be kind, to listen to others. You learn so much from others and I figured that out fast, and I think it’s a strength because the brand is not called Alexandre Mattiussi, it’s classed AMI by Alexandre Mattiussi because AMI is a collective of talents, people who come together daily and think about the desire which is: “we are going to make clothes”, I am not saying we are just making garments we are trying to make something elegant and soft, rich and sophisticated. It’s serious but it has to remain light at the end of the day, I was raised like that and it makes me very proud.
FG: AMI has quickly become a reference for Parisian chic, therefore was having the show in the centre of Paris important for you, and the collection?
Clearly, Paris is my city, it’s the city that welcomed me. I have made some of the most significant and beautiful relationships here, I met my friends, my professional guardian angels, my team, so Paris is a city that I will always honour and to be here tonight, it is a political act, to have a show during this pandemic. A couple of weeks ago we were not allowed to do so, therefore we are only doing a runway for creative and human reasons. Gathering all these people around us, the teams, it’s a tremendous amount of work and I want to make sure it’s a beautiful show because we are in a real-life theatre tonight.
FG: The casting for the show is unique, was this essential for AMI? What message are you hoping to convey through this choice?
It is a unique, rich and truly special casting, I’m very proud of it. The casting’s diversity mirrors the diversity of people one might cross paths with in Paris. It’s a cosmopolitan city, I think that it would be very strange to only show a particular kind of man or woman, or a particular socio-cultural or even religious group of our society. I do not wish to turn it into some political act, this casting is natural and real because it resembles Parisians, it resembles people you could meet all over the world and I also think that this is a way of paying tribute to all Parisians tonight, wherever they may be from. There are many foreigners who like me, come to Paris, I came to the city from the countryside when I was 25 years old, I still say I come from Normandy, but today, I also consider myself Parisian.
FG: The AMI family have often worked with and encouraged young talent, as the creative director and founder of AMI, how meaningful is this to you?
AM: Personally, I am a big believer in collaborations, I strongly believe in sharing ideas, sometimes even with people you thought you weren’t necessarily meant to get along with or even understand, but I truly believe in sharing and listening and ultimately, learning a lot from other people.
FG: This year the world has been faced with one of the biggest crises in its history. However, this has created many positive movements within the fashion industry. How have you coped with all of this COVID-related change and have there been any pleasant surprises at AMI?
AM: I think we still don’t have enough of hindsight to answer this question, even being here tonight is surprising but at the same time it feels natural. I think we will draw conclusions later, in the long run. In our case, we sought to protect the people who work for AMI and to also take care of our manufacturers who struggled and were not able to work in normal conditions. Some of them had to lay off staff members or risked losing their infrastructure, so my immediate thought was: protect the people around us first. Business is one thing, but humanity is the most important, in my opinion, it has to survive and endure, above everything else. In fact, this is what they are faced with every day, I always tell them that if we have to stop everything tomorrow, we will bounce back, we will make other things and there will be other ways to be happy, happiness is everywhere. I believe that the world is big and that if we open our eyes and if we are positive, if we believe in ourselves and if we believe in others, beautiful things can happen.
FG: This is your ninth year, which happens to be your favourite number, looking back on everything AMI has achieved, what are some of your favourite moments? And what are you looking forward to in the future?
AM: They’re all wonderful moments, I think that the early beginning are beautiful memories, the first times are always magnificent: the first presentation of the first collection, the first client in the showroom, the first guy I saw in Paris wearing a jumper with the logo, every day is a surprise and it’s a story that’s still being written, it’s a work in progress. We are still progressing, mid-step. I always say that AMI is this big book I am writing, that every collection is a chapter and that every chapter contributes in its own way to our story. I am already onto the next collection, I live in the present moment one hundred percent, but Monday morning we are already working on the Winter collection and my runway producer and I are already projecting ourselves in what we might show. I already have some ideas, I’m thinking it might be cinema related.
FG: If there is one thing we should take away from this collection, what would it be?
AM: Team spirit. It truly is the togetherness, the love, the compassion and the energy we all have and share that makes me happy, more than anything else.

AMI Spring Summer 2021