Event Art Director
Phil Rhys Thomas / September 9, 2019
Today, La Mode en Images is one of the go-to luxury event art-direction and production agencies but, back when Massart began working in fashion in the late ‘60s, no such thing existed. He explains how forward-thinking clients like Guy Laroche and Paco Rabanne helped him to kickstart a revolution.
How did it all begin?
It all started with an assignment on the fashion designers of the time, in the late ‘60s, the early ‘70s. I told them, after photographing their models, that these models were like works of art. That we would have to invent a stage to highlight them, to accompany them with music, lights. To combine images, sounds. In short, plunge fashion into the heart of life, into the pulsation of the street. And above all, tell a story! Paco Rabanne and Guy Laroche listened to me, trusted me. It was such a success that all the other creators then asked me to stage their collections. Each maison wanted to make a difference. So I invented my profession by “killing” the last classic parades! Fashion was longer without narration, theatre and entertainment. Without dreams. From there, stage setting, sets, lights and music came next, designed at the same time – all in the service of the story imagined around the collection.
You were a pioneer!
We had had to be, because we had to invent everything, create everything! Shows,lights, music… We have always had the taste for tailor-made productions. At La Mode en Images, we always work very closely with fashion designers, art directors. They tell us about their collections long before they’re made. About their sources of inspiration. About their visions. So we’re moving with them hand in hand, in absolute confidence.
How has the fashion industry changed?
When I started, there were two collections a year… today, the new collections follow one another throughout the year. The rhythm has gone wild. And the stakes have grown. Most importantly, there is no longer a gap between the creation of garments and their presentation, so we’re moving forward practically in real time. Shows and social media make it global. So the ability of fashion to always be ahead of its time, naturally, has been tenfold.
Fashion has become a real industry within the luxury industry… Paris is no longer the only stronghold in fashion. We create shows worldwide. In the USA, China, Japan, Russia… I would say that fashion is more in direct contact with the world, the news. Fashion is at the heart of our time. And even better: it’s become visionary.
What makes a La Mode en Images production?
I’m a dreamer. Shows, ideas come out of my dreams… I am a “dream-maker”. But, of course, it’s a long-term job. Like some kind of gymnastics. Or rather, a constant exchange with the universe of culture. The great artistic movements, the latest trends in creation, the new influences, in order to propel the brands to the avant-garde, so that it further strengthens their visionary side.
What or who inspires you?
Patrizia Pilotti, my wife. Her eye, her reflection, her strength are so precious. She is my compass, my balance. Without her…
How do you choose the venue for the show you’re creating?
The places we choose are always in close relationship with the collections, the creators. Like an echo. They’re are like caskets for jewels, which we magnify in service of these collections… because the places also tell a story. Our skills have grown stronger over time as those who joined us grew alongside this profession we invented. Some have been in La Mode en Images for more than 30 years – they started as interns and are now people with important responsibilities. It is thanks to them that we can produce more than 100 shows a year.
Tell us about working with Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton.
A great collaboration! To imagine, design and build events for Vuitton – like for each of our clients – is always about listening to the creator. It’s both accompanying him and making his vision come to light. But the most accurate light, which emphasises his work without stifling it – it’s the art of balance.
Tell us about a project you’re particularly proud of.
The centenary of the Eiffel Tower was so gigantic and poetic all at once… A team of more than 5,000 people, but a work of craftsmanship. Crazy pressure and maximum poetry. Imagine: making the Eiffel Tower disappear to Parisians and the world! And then rebuilding it, girder after girder.
How did your Domaine des Andéols hotel come about?
The domain of the Andéols is the territory of my childhood. The very essence of Provence. Its colours, its perfumes, the art of life. We wanted our customers to feel at home, and so it became a luxury hotel, composed of individual houses. Each has its own atmosphere, distinct soul and even perfume. Each is dedicated to a unique theme, design, and works of contemporary artists that I have gathered throughout my journey. This is the first time an art collector has shown his own collection in this way! It’s living in the heart of nature and culture. When our clients come back, they often ask to change house or theme, the same way we change our dreams…