Jerome Pierre is quite honestly one of the sweetest and humble people that I've had the pleasure to interview. A real prince. Fresh off the back of his collection launch with Agnes B, which is online now, we took a moment before the launch party a week or two ago to talk to him about the collection, what it's like to work with Agnes B and how he copes with his pan-European living arrangements.
S: How did you come to do the collection?
JP: I met Agnes about a year ago because we had friends in common and we were just meant to meet at some point and she invited me to come see her at her office in Paris. We just had a little chat about how we felt about fashion, designing a collection and menswear mostly, and she came back to me a few weeks later with the idea to do a collection together.
S: What's she like as a person?
JP: She's amazing, she's really an icon and I'm still very intimidated when I'm with her because she has a power and an energy that's very impressive. She's also really frank in a super good way. There's something also a little shy about her and the two together they sort of balance out and it's very touching. You feel very impressed when you meet her.
S: What's it like to live between Paris and Berlin?
JP: It is crazy because it's Paris and Berlin and then freelancing working and my own line, the whole mix of that all together is pretty crazy. You have to juggle with so many things and it gets pretty crazy. I really need Berlin because I love the city and it's really where I want to be but Paris is where I work and where I come from. It's super challenging and you have so many things that push you forward in fashion and in Berlin I just find other things and other aspects of life that I like; there's a quiet there, there's a different vibe and I need both.
S: What was designing the collection like? What was the process?
JP: The idea for me was to design a collection that was very me but also that would integrate to Agnes' world but we have so many things in common in regards to how we like pieces to be. We like very simple lines, very simple pieces and very bold colours so we had many things in common and we wanted to bring that out. I wanted to bring my kind of modern minimal slightly futuristic touch and I also wanted to get inspired by what I love about Agnes' work which is print and the way that she uses photography as prints. I challenged myself to make these prints because I usually don't really go for them; it's not my first instinct - I like really simple things. That print kind of came to life and I started putting it on a few pieces and then it kind of stole the show.
S: You have some lovely little details on the jacket especially like the little zip on the breast pocket
JP: Yes well that's something else that we had in common with Agnes - we like realistic practical clothes and once every blue moon a statement piece that blows your mind.
S: Did you design it in her studio and did you work with the team?
JP: Not in the studio but with the team yes. So the pure design, the sketches, I did on my own and then I worked with Agnes and the team to select the pieces. I always design way too much! Then we selected what Agnes felt talked to her and then I worked with the whole studio to choose the fabrics - they have amazing things there. I worked with the pattern maker and the atelier who were all just magic and can do anything and we understood each other very well. Everything goes really fast and they can make everything that you ask for. That was amazing for Agnes to say to me I have the facility to make anything and you can use it for a while if you want.
S: Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
JP: Yes. I love the look that I'm wearing which is the bomber jacket which really feels amazing its quite chic as well. I have to say that I adore the metal buckle on the belt. That buckle is me in one piece. I love it. The product manager who found that - I designed this buckle and she managed to have it made in a very, very short amount of time.
S: How long?
JP: In two weeks! Usually that is not possible but they had something kind of like it and they can do something with what they had and they made it. That was really cool.
S: What is the print? It almost looks like a computer graphic or something like that
JP: It is! It is a computer graphic. I'm very inspired by generative art and the idea was to design a very basic shape, a basic line or form and you then generate though random functions computerised shapes and in to those shapes you do a lot of trial and error. When something starts speaking to you then you go in that direction and in the end there was that one result that I really loved and I made that engineered print and the all over print from that image. I love the idea that there was something random in the process of making the print. Something that was not my intention. When you create a collection you come with your intentions and your ideas but you don't really control everything that's around you, what you can get hold of or the people that are going to help you make the collection.
S: It's almost a representation of the process itself then
JP: Exactly and also the shape and when you see the all over print it is kind of like very thin things, ah, there is a word in French which is araignée which means kind of like a spider web - very thin, very intricate and it seems to be floating away. At that particular time a year ago I was very much in to meditation and I love the idea of symbolising what meditation was about to me which is letting your thoughts go which is what I wrote in the look book. I also loved the idea of putting something beneficial and benevolent in to the message of the collection and to share that.
S: That's deep in a very good way, a lovely message. You live between Berlin and Paris but what other cities do you like? You don't have to say London...
JP: Oh but I do, I do! I love Paris because my roots are there and it's a beautiful city to look at and I love Berlin but it's not very beautiful but when you live there you feel it. I love London because of the energy, it's very common to say that I know, but it's true when you come from Paris there is an energy here, there is a way of doing things and a way of being that's completely different although it's a two hour train ride away.
S: Do you like architecture as well?
JP: I love architecture, I adore architecture. Yes, this is one of the things that I love in Berlin is that they have pieces from an architect that I love who is called Stefan Braunfels. He does the super modern concrete things, they're amazing, they're also like completely represent exactly what I love; super airy and very welcoming in a way, very minimal places.
S: I understand what you mean, now you've done this collection what is the next step for you?
JP: Besides the work that I always do I just made a small line of accessories it's online and has been available for a few weeks so it's fresh.
S: Amazing, what's your website?
JP: I'm glad you asked, here, the brand is called Steilheit Paris so there's the whole German/French thing.
S: How do you say it? Like 'style-height'?
JP: The German is similar to that yes but the French say it more like 'stell-ite' but say it however you want, I love that word because it's very graphic either way you say it. It's a line of accessories that's intended for all genders so it's as much as possible because it's a real challenge design wise to do that.
S: Do you feel as though that's the case because accessories can be more obviously feminine or masculine?
JP: It's what I really want to share at the moment, the quality is really good, the prices are really fair and I really want to make it something that I share with people. Not something too exclusive.
S: It's very easy to become very exclusive with accessorise like that I imagine
JP: Exactly, especially when you're small and you're starting out because everything is super expensive. The idea is to be as luxurious as possible and as design led as possible and at the same time be somewhat affordable.
S: With the collection that you did with Agnes is there something that you took away from it?
JP: I wouldn't say that there was one big thing but more a ton of small things because I was working with so many people. I have been designing for a while now so it's not the newest experience for me so I learnt a lot of small things. It was very much about integrating in to a company that is already there and kind of mixing in to its DNA and at the same time being an outsider to the company. How to approach the work on those terms was kind of interesting. What I've learnt personally is that when it's your name on it you have to go to the end of the process. I felt like a guest in this occurrence, I felt kind of shy and was trying to not be too demanding on the people from the atelier but then they really pushed me to tell them exactly what I wanted and they were like "no, no, if I have to re-do it all night long then I will do it".
First of all I was super grateful that they had this attitude towards me and I thought that they were right when you're delivering something that has your name and the name of Agnes on it you have to finish the process, go to the end and say exactly what you want. Really if you feel like there is a detail that you want to change, just do it. There is no problem it's not like it's rude or anything and that 's kind of what I learnt from that, it's a small thing but very important.
S: Do you have any favourite places in Berlin?
JP: So many! So many, ah I'm rubbish at that kind of thing, when I'm there I always hang out in the neighbourhood that I live in which is Schoneberg and I spend as much time as I can in the tier garten. It's the huge park there so I go there early in the morning to try to meditate a bit if I can and then also just to ride my bike and get some fresh air which is super important to me and something that I cannot do in Paris. Being outside and on the streets and just living life, enjoying the chill of Berlin.
S: Rather than a specific place then what do you enjoy about Paris?
JP: I admit that I don't see Paris that much anymore because I have been there for such a long time. I enjoy my friends and I enjoy my family there the people I work with but I have to say that what I love is that even after all these years in Paris I still get to be amazed and to discover new places. That's the great thing about Paris. It's small but there's always something new to discover and my friend who's German and lives in Berlin when he comes over to Paris he kind of wanders around and he goes to places that I don't really automatically go because I don't think to go to those places and he always helps me discover new places through the eyes of a tourist. You get amazed because Paris is beautiful - the buildings are beautiful and it's a pretty great city to be in. You kind of forget it sometimes, you need fresh eyes from someone else to remind you how beautiful it is.