You might expect that someone who is able to compose and style such deep and dark shots as does Manuel Estevez to have a somewhat edgy and minimalist personality but no, he explodes into the interview with the energy of naughty puppy, happy to see you and eager to play! Never short of an opinion and with an eye so sharp, you can almost envisage paper cutting itself, Estevez’s talent shines through in everything he does. Perhaps it’s the multi-national identity, perhaps it’s the head for romance or perhaps, it’s just, quite simply, Senor Estevez himself. Either way, what you get is a force to be reckoned with and a superior flair for what he does. He’s a stylist and it’s more than just primping and positioning that makes the photograph work. It’s about the relationship between fabric and model, light and photographer and most of all, that raw, superbounce that is Manuel himself. In this interview he reveals just a little bit of what it means to be him and where his inspiration comes from.
PP. Where do you come from Manuel?
ME. Arriba!, Arriba!, I am a Mexican-Spanish guy, who was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, but I have been raised in two countries Mexico and Spain. All my life I have been travelling to Spain during the summer… I was going to my parents’ hometown. This place was the meeting point of all immigrants in Mexico. We met there every year and possibly it was the only time we could get together. As a kid I loved it. Getting back there always meant having a great time.
Once, I remember, I used to walk with a big group of teenagers at night to watch the stars. It was just magical. We were walking around small villages, no noise, only the nature was talking. We sang and talked about our experiences… It was something I will certainly remember for the rest of my life.
PP. How did you end up in Paris?
ME. Paris is ‘la cite de l’amour’. That’s why I ended up in it. I was going to Paris every weekend for 8 months to visit my lover. The first time I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. It was also at night. I took the bus which dropped me off at the Opera, making my sightseeing even better. So my first experience of the city was the magnificent Opera. I was so impressed with all those lights which made the building looking even more beautiful than it was. For some reason Paris gives me the feeling of going back in time.
PP. Where does your interest in fashion come from? Were you always interested in clothes?
ME. To tell you the truth, my interest in fashion came since Versace’s success with all the top models in the 90s. I was his real fan. I always got excited watching images of Cindy, Christy, Naomi and Linda on the runways, enjoying what they were wearing; like a free bird shaking their wings.
Although at that time there wasn’t much fashion going on in my hometown, I always tried to follow it on TV or through magazines. Fashion brought magic into my life.
PP. Do you think Paris is still the centre of the fashion world?
ME. Not anymore, as it used to be. Nowadays we live in a globalized world, where fashion has more references to follow. I might say that Paris is still a reference of fashion for other countries, as well as its other sister cities such as New York, London and Milan. Borders are open and fashion has become part of it, as its own evolution. We have more references, more designers, who are competing to show their best in different places around the globe, adapting to their market and style. It seems that I should take the risk and say there is more a hierarchy in what it would be called Capital. First we have Paris, London, New York and Milan as the major cities for fashion, then we have emerging cities that basically are the followers.
PP. Who are your biggest fashion influences and why?
ME. YSL teaming up with Helmut Newton at Le SMmoking (1975), because it appeals to a stereotype of woman who is strong, androgynous, sexy and minimalist. For that time it was such a revolution, because man was ruling the world in most areas. As I mentioned, YSL always empowered woman to wear men’s clothes. From Helmut Newton is the fact that in their pictures women are sexy, chic, elegant, but always there is something dark in it… Alexander McQueen, for his vision and always creating a new story, the woman is always sexy, enhancing the silhouettes as well as Mr Thierry Mugler did in his time. As I remember, McQueen always wanted to create an ambiance from an underworld or parallel world that inspired him to created textures, shapes but always respected a woman’s silhouette.
PP. Do you buy many fashion magazines?
ME. Yes, but it has become a problem of space lately. I buy not only fashion magazines. I also love history magazines and art publications because you can find inspiration and new ideas from anywhere you look.
PP. What is your definition of good styling?
ME. A good styling, it is not only a matter to match clothes perfectly, it is also a matter of creating an ambiance; expressing a story by good selection of pieces and matching them to create a look that resembles a character, personality, attitude or lifestyle. That look must be edgy, modern and always have a signature from the stylist.
PP. In your opinion who are 5 the best dressed people in the world?
A) Betty Catroux because of her ageless style and androgynous look. Also she has been a muse for YSL and Tom Ford, and I admire both of them.
B) Kate Lanphear for the reason that in her punk, rock, dark and androgynous world she expresses a woman I like; strong, warrior woman with no fear and extremely independent.
C) Dita Von Teese because she is a result of sexiness that is radiated by her own style and that personality she represents, not only as a pin-up girl but more as Mata Hari, beautiful but dangerous.
D) Amelie Gillier, a fashion designer who I had the chance to work with. Her personal style is modern and edgy, she always wears her Dior Homme jeans with a deep and open neck blouses, really a mix of bohemian rock, sexy and androgynous.
E) Emanuelle Alt, another rock and roll girl that I love. She always looks perfect wherever she goes. Tight jeans or leather pants, leather jacket and studs, make her look strong but chic.
PP. How about the worst dressed people?
ME. I would like to answer this, but I don’t think I will name anybody. Who wants to wear a tight dress when your body line is not good for it? So many people believe in that wearing spectacular pieces always means fitted or matching with their outfit. It is like going to the MET gala this year wearing the white house curtains, making a dress out of it and beyond that… you can only look HUGE making such choices… or wearing a dress that is impossible to walk in… I can go on like this forever but I guess these two examples show the lack of style. Style is not only what you wear or try to match, it is also about attitude, appearance and know-how.
PP. Is style something you were born with?
ME. Yes, I was born with a sense of style that over the years I have developed and I’m still developing it. I would like to add that everybody has their own style and that makes the difference in people. It is the eye, the vision and how you create a visual personality.
PP. Can you imagine what would fashion look in 10 years from now?
ME. Fashion will be more competitive as we know that times passes by super fast. We will be willing to look more different than others, to be more functional and stylish since we are becoming a really busy with no time to think about the clothes. The difference between fashion houses will show in the research of new materials, more ecological, recycling, and inventing new fabrics that will make us feel like having a second skin that can warm us up by pressing a button or cools us down.
PP. And in 100 years time?
ME. In 100 years from now, fashion will perhaps be about wearing technology. Smart fabrics will be more developed, it is something like Hussein Chalayan’s mechanical dresses, that can become something else. I guess also, that through new development and advances we can reach a point of wearing holograms, or images created by a computer. In this case we will pay more for the design than anything else.