Boris Bidjan Saberi Interview
Sleek: The materials used in these garments are striking, can you tell me the story behind your S/S15 collection?
Boris: The whole story began a year ago when I started sculpting leather and manipulating it in a way to get volume out of it. I wanted the leather to be more organic, three dimensional. I have looked for ways to create an interaction between the human body and the animal skin. That was a starting point. I pursued working with different kinds of natural and chemical resins like the epoxy one. In the end, I’m curious to find my own techniques to do things in my own way, without knowing anything, before diving into it.
How has your leather-work technique evolved into the leather vests for this S/S collection?
I create most of the materials that I use from scratch, including the leather. I choose the hides and then I tan them using my own techniques, which are pretty old fashioned and not in use any longer.
Most of the hides are vegetable tanned, which means that I don’t use chemicals. Handling the whole process of tannery allows me to become more familiar with the process and the material, I need to understand the material to be able to give such shapes.
This collection is very industrial in its construction. How did you work both sculptural and functional elements into the finished pieces?
I always need two opposite guidelines in my collection : a more artistic and creative part and a realistic one, which is more about a silhouette and the functionality of the garment. This collection has been inspired by the Bundeswehr, the German army. Military essentials are very interesting, I think these are the best designed garments in the world because they’re absolutely functional and answer very specific needs.
Who did you work with to develop the skin caps for this collection?
I developed those skin caps with my makeup artist Tan Binh Nguyen. He is an amazing guy. We built the caps up together. He knows a lot about techniques because he’s working and collaborating with the opera and film industries and he helped me to find the best way to create an second-skin like helmet.
You recently designed costumes for Ben Frost’s opera, “The Wasp Factory”, how did you and Ben connect?
Ben Frost sent me an email two years ago saying that he likes my work and asking if I was interested in having a look at his work. I’ve been really amazed by what he creates. We met in Barcelona and fell in love, or I fell in love. He’s an amazing man, he’s very creative and I like him a lot as a human being. Everything started from there. That’s the necessary base I need when I’m starting to work with someone. Later on, Ben asked me about the costume design for “The Wasp Factory” and I said “Yeah, wow, why not!”.
Do you feel that you’ve created an identity with your diffusion line, 11, which opens up collaboration possibilities with streetwear brands like Reebok?
The 11 line is industrially produced and focused on high performances. Boris Bidjan Saberi is more experimental with a big focus on hand made elements in every single garment. With 11, we try to figure out the best way to produce a garment with the highest expertise and the best quality in an industrial level. That’s also why the whole Reebok collaboration began. Reebook has years of experience on the development of sneakers and the Pump Fury is an iconic model, that was very appealing to merge their know-how with our creativity.
As far as designing for performance, do you see a crossover in your collaborations between developing costumes for opera versus designing clothing for the street?
Actually, I don’t think so far. Everything that I do is connected and makes sense. In the end, what I’ve done until now is sort of an evolution. We make collaborations with both the 11 line and Boris Bidjan Saberi. Ben Frost perfectly suits the values I put behind Boris Bidjan Saberi. He’s creative, he’s crazy and he’s building that up live. Ben is shaping matter from scratch. For me, that’s Boris Bidjan Saberi.
Text by Katherine Koniecki