Pieter Mulier, who has been working alongside Raf Simons in the early 2000s, as his right-hand person at Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, as well as Dior. He had his moment in the spotlight when he was appointed creative director at Alaia in February – a job he described as “winning the lottery”.
Following Simons’ departure, Mulier quit PVH subsidiary Calvin Klein in 2018, and then took time out from fashion without knowing if he would ever return.
The designer spoke out on Thursday at Fashion Talks Antwerp about his appointment to Alaia. He also discussed how he assumed the legacy and what he sees as the differences between this and previous positions.
He said that he felt “fashion burnout” after Calvin Klein and was no longer inspired by the fashion world. He was able to take Simons’ shadow off of him by entering the creative spotlight through Alaia, a fashion house that Richemont owns.
Alaia’s legacy with the world
Mulier asked the industry’s outsiders about Alaia as the first step of his journey. Mulier was unaware of the brand’s history, and his family and friends were not aware of it. This led him to ask industry professionals about their knowledge. He had to decide whether he would apply his vision or “look at it more like a work of arts”, as Azzedine alaia did. He chose to follow the founder’s lead while communicating Alaia’s work to those unfamiliar with it, including a younger audience.
“I view my job as taking care of the house. I don’t believe I’m an integral part of the story.” At Fashion Talks, Mulier stated that “the name is more important […],”
How to become a creative director
Mulier was called by Alaia a year before he was named, the design director stated. Mulier had time to research the role and reflect on it. Mulier believed he was familiar with the fashion house at the time. He wanted to learn more and started buying vintage pieces from the 70s 80s and 90s – an era in the founder’s history he was not as familiar with.
“I bought, bought, and bought.” He said that FedEx made him so happy every morning. Each garment was a surprise. He was convinced by each find that he had to accept the job.
Alaia opens a new chapter
Simons and Mulier arrived in New York to Calvin Klein from Paris’s Dior. They were welcomed with open arms by American fashion houses, but they also faced some challenges. Mulier stated that he was disgusted at the amount of products he and his team were dumping out 16 times per year. “I began to wonder who bought all of this.”
Mulier sees the opposite at Alaia. Mulier knows the customer and what he’s addressing with his creations. He had to work with 300-400 people at Calvin Klein. Alaia has a smaller team, so everything is managed by him. There are no marketing directors or merchandisers and there are only two collections per year. The values of “humanity and respect” are the main focus. Mulier seems to have found his creative spark and joy in fashion with this overall package.