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Fashion designer Olivier Châtenet on his vintage YSL collection

What was your first job in fashion? “Azzedine [Alaïa] was my first mentor. I was 21 years old when I started assisting him. I started working with him at the beginning of his career, so I witnessed how he really exploded on to the scene in the mid-80s. He’s a very strong person. His life is about work. He worked 24 hours a day and still does! Even though he is quite old now, he’s still working – never taking any holidays. It’s his life and I admire that.

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“Azzedine taught me the importance of constant effort at work, because something is never truly perfect. You can redo it, and redo it, and redo it again. And because your eye changes, the way you see things changes, too. So when you see a dress one day and think it’s perfect, the day after you might think it’s horrible. But this is the most interesting thing about fashion – it changes and evolves with time.”

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How did working with Thierry Mugler compare with your Azzedine Alaïa expe­rience? “It was a totally different way of working. The kind of woman Thierry used to dress was sexy, Parisian and 50s-inspired but it was produced in a very different way. He was very much about show. He wanted a spectacle.

“In contrast, Azzedine is much more about the garments. For instance, I received an invitation to a show he was doing at the end of the October. That was one month after everybody else. But he’s not the sort of person to care, and I love that he gives himself that freedom.”

You own more than 1,500 vintage Yves Saint Laurent pieces. How did this collection start? “When we launched our fashion label, E2, we researched vintage garments for inspiration. At that time, we were collecting clothes we loved – garments that felt classic with nice details. So the research initially was for that project. However, it was around this time that I started coming across vintage pieces by Yves Saint Laurent, and that’s how my collection started.

“What was so special was the quality, in terms of how easy it is for the garment to be understood. I’m not that into costume or history. That’s why I love his work – you can see clothes that are 40 years old and it could be considered wearable and modern for today. This, for me, is genius.”

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Your Instagram is filled with images from the past. Are these the things that inspire you? “Yes, for me, Instagram is about sharing my idea of what beauty is. I don’t do selfies or things like that. I love magazines and pictures, because of the way time keeps moving forward. It’s interesting to look at pictures that are 40 or 50 years old, because they capture one moment that stays forever.”