M. How do you react to brands getting in touch with you these days when they were snubbing you a few years ago.
L.P. I remain professional. I also use it as a bargaining tool. I will say, “OK, now you want to work with me, but remember our relationship in the past.” I make sure that things have actually changed internally, that they don’t just want to work with me to improve their image. And whatever the project is, I push it to the limit so that we don’t just have a surface representation but that we really change the game. Every time, we always go further than the initial brief. That said, I still refuse to work with many brands by giving them my reasons.
M. You are now recognized in your field, signing one contract after another and developing many partnerships. Aren’t you afraid that being so outspoken will limit your opportunities somehow?
L.P. The dynamic is different now. Although I am still as frank as ever, today I know the people who work within the system, with the brands, and with whom I have developed real relationships. Even if they don’t always agree with me and my approach, they understand my reasons and motives. When something happens, it allows me to contact them directly to find out what it’s all about instead of talking about it and calling them out on social media, although I still do that sometimes. I actually want brands to learn from their mistakes. Like the time Diesel took the Black Lives Matter hashtag and turned it into Black Friday Matter last autumn. I had met artistic director Glenn Martens sometime before the Hyères Festival. So I could have contacted him directly, but I wanted to spark a conversation about it, so that everyone (his followers, editor’s note) could express why it was awkward. And so that Diesel wouldn’t be too quick to brush it off for fear I’d post it. So I posted the image in my story, and people reposted it. Glenn saw it, asked me about it, and let me know that he would bring it up and talk to HR about it to get it resolved. I think he would have preferred me to delete my story. But again, it’s important to hold brands accountable.
M. Why did you choose to go into fashion?
L.P. To be honest, I always wanted to live a fancy life. The strass and the glitter, that made me dream. I wanted to be known. And I saw the fashion world as an extension of celebrity and pop culture. In this environment, you can live out dreams, fantasies, before they become real. The catwalks, the parties, the bling… it may not be your everyday lifestyle, but for a while it can be. I’ve always liked that aspect.
M. You grew up in a conservative USian family. Did this influence your vision and how you were existing in this society?
L.P. At home, I heard a lot of: “You can’t do this, you can’t do that”. I would inevitably ask “Why?” And the answer was always: “Because you are told so”. So as I grew up, I learned to challenge everything, to understand why things were the way they were. If nobody has the answer, then I’ll find out on my own.
M. You’re not afraid to voice your opinion and share your militant stance on social media… Between what people think and their possible reactions afterwards, it can be damaging to your mental health. How do you deal with it?
L.P. I’ve definitely gone through a few mental breakdowns, even publicly on Instagram and Twitter. It can be really exhausting, especially when brands are involved in conversations, debates, verbal jousting, etc. and when you’re expected to speak out on every topic and news item. Some days the first thing I do when I get up is pick up my phone and think about what I’m going to post, what I’m going to say. At times, it feels like my Instagram account is a news channel. But newspapers have entire teams dedicated to that. I do everything on my own. There are times when you have to take a step back from it all. I sometimes delete apps from my phone for a given period of time. I stop putting energy into it and redirect it to myself instead.