Iris Alonzo, Creative Director American Apparel: How did you first become interested in creating patterns?
Nathalie Du Pasquier: I first became interested in patterns during a year I spent in West Africa between 1975 and 1976. I was interested in looking at them. It is only in 1979 that I started designing some. The very first ones I just wanted someone to buy them. I did not care where they would end up. The first patterns I designed were presented to an agent in Milan who decided which clients to show them to. Later, in 1980 when I was 23 years old, I built up my courage and designed my first patterns for George Sowden’s pieces in the first Memphis collection. Designing patterns became, for a few years, a kind of practice; an automatic language I would use on anything.
IA: How did you meet Ettore Sottsass? What was it like being a member of Memphis?
NDP: I don’t remember how I met Ettore Sottsass. George Sowden (my boyfriend) was working with him at Olivetti. Being a member of Memphis was very interesting. Memphis was not about doing one project; it was about proposing and showing “possibilities”.
IA: Did you formally train to do what you did with Memphis, or for what you are doing now?
NDP: I did not study. I trained in a different way, I think traveling, seeing different parts of the world and what other people did was a kind of university. Then I was reading. I was curious about a lot of things. I also trained looking at what my older colleagues were doing, of course. I still train every day, like a dancer. Training is the best part; there is hope and confidence.
IA: What techniques or mediums did you use to make the patterns for our collection? How did the shapes used in the patterns “come” to you?
NDP: For the American Apparel collection, I did as I usually do. I sketched with color pencils. As I knew you wanted some “Memphis” feeling patterns, I looked through my old drawings and decided to do some new ones using my usual rule for patterns – which is very natural and pre-computer: cut and paste. Ideas come as I draw, I guess this is what a designer is: someone who thinks with his drawing hand. When you came to Milan I finalized what I had thought about, inspired by your presence!
IA: What are your favorite colors to work with? Are there any colors you don’t like?
NDP: I don’t have favorite colors and there are no colors I don’t like! Sometimes it’s the combinations between them I don’t like or the context that I feel to be inappropriate.
American Apparel Summer Collection
Design: Nathalie du Pasquier
Producer: American Apparel