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An Interview with Maurice Renoma

Maurice Renoma has a long career as a couturier and designer who transformed the way French men dressed. In the 1960s, his tailored designs were groundbreaking and over the years he expanded his creative palate into other avenues including photography and furniture. A distinguished Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Mr. Renoma will have his first retrospective photography show in New York City at the Bertrand Delacroix Gallery opening on Thursday, November 14th.


Over the last twenty years, you have continued your work in fashion but have also evolved as an artist in photography, what is your real passion? I love to create. Photography is an art and I have always tried to treat fashion as an art form too – no taboos, no preconceptions. I see all forms as art but I am drawn to fabric – the material above all.

How did you start your work as an artist? I started life surrounded by fabrics. In the 60s, the French were some of the worst dressed in Europe. Styles were conservative, dull and unfitted. I started by shattering that and experimenting with sensual fabrics like velvet, bold colors and patterns and designs that contoured the body. I was a sculptor of fashion and that hadn’t been done in France before.

Renoma is currently celebrating 50 years of creation. How do you define 50 years of success? Our Parisian boutique, White House opened in 1963 and it was here that I started my journey as an artist. It was the destination for young creatives like the Drugstore Gang or the Golf Drouot (a nightclub in the 9th arrondissement that spawned the collective movement known as ‘ye-ye’).  Fashion for the young didn’t exist. We gave it to them and with that a way to express their rebellion. On any day at our store you could bump into Picasso, Dali, Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Dylan or The Beatles. When I started in fashion, I was trying to break from the past and over the years I continued to do that with other mediums. Twenty years ago, I started experimenting with photography and that has been very fulfilling for me. So, I define 50 years of success of loving what I do and being able to express myself.

Now you are bringing your photography to New York City for the first time. How do you think an American audience will react to your work?  I am thrilled to exhibit my photography in New York. I think that it will speak to the American art collector who appreciates the avant-garde and modern fashion.  My show is titled MODOGRAPHE or “fashionographer.” – so you will see playful, sensual and provocative images that lie at the intersection of fashion, photography, and art.  Also, as an artist, New York is a very inspiring city and I like that.

What do you think about collaborations between artists and fashion designers (such as Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Takashi Murakami)?  I think it is a good thing that fashion designers help artists, but those are often marketing-oriented projects. Most of the time, a fashion designer chooses a famous artist. It would be great if, sometimes, young artist or emergent artists could be chosen.

Maurice Renoma’s latest solo exhibition, MODOGRAPHE (“fashionographer”), runs from November 14 through December 14, 2013 at the Bertrand Delacroix Gallery, 535 West 25th Street in Chelsea. Further information about Maurice Renoma can be found at www.renoma-paris.com and the Bertrand Delacroix Gallery can be found at www.bdgny.com