We are pleased to debut this year’s GUEST CURATOR series in full SPRING with an interesting and intriguing character: CATALIN VALEAN – Romanian born fashion designer and everyday heartbreaker.
He was born in Cluj, lived in Berlin, Hannover and now in Bucharest. He’s always juggling several creative endeavors in order to continuously outrun himself while being the Creative Director of ATU Body Couture - a well established Romanian fashion brand.
We got to talk with him about everything from personal background to professional status and future plans. If you are not curious enough yet, we lure you even further with these keywords: tattoos, Walter van Beirendonck, occultism, Fleetwood Mac, compromise, Daehyun Kim and friendship.
|DITA "SEQUOIA" TRANSLUCENT FRAMES||CUTLER AND GROSS"0822" OPTICALS|
|DRIES VAN NOTEN ROUND SUNGLASSES|
You studied in Cluj, then interned at a fashion brand in Berlin, worked in Hannover and now work in Bucharest. How different do you feel these cities are in terms of the fashion scene and which one inspires you most?
As the years passed, I realized that these so-called differences in terms of the fashion scene have become the equivalent of very important steps in my personal and professional growth.
In Cluj-Napoca I got to know myself for the very first time as a fashion designer with the guidance of my mentors, Elena Basso-Stanescu and Lucian Broscatean. Berlin was the place where my professional goals were finally set; Hannover became the initial 'plan to change the world' and my first real disappointment, and Bucharest is of course my present, where I constantly work on bettering myself.
The most inspiring place is the one where I got to dream the most, at the age when everything still seemed possible. That of course is Berlin.
You've been involved in several creative projects and currently collaborate with ATU Body Couture, a Romanian womenswear label for which you are the main designer. What are the perks of being a designer for a brand instead of building a brand from the scratch?
When you get to work for an already established fashion brand, both the perks and challenges consist in trying to integrate your own creative vision without compromising the already existent identity. The foundation has already been built and your task is to grow further without making it all crumble down on your way up.
photos curtesy of ATU Body Couture
Fashion designer / Creative director / Image consultant - what’s the most challenging about the fashion industry from your point of view? And what are the biggest misconceptions you've discovered about being a fashion designer?
When you work in such a creative, yet socially orientated field like fashion, there comes a time when you might get distracted. The challenge is to keep focus on your initial goal, make a clear difference between friendships and professional relationships and never let your ego nullify your talent.
The greatest misconception regarding this field is the automatic association with the idea of superficiality. I have acquaintances in every existent creative field, from actors and singers, to painters and sculptors, and all I can say is that people in the fashion industry have proven to be the most open-minded. Their only flaw -from my point of view- is the overly-competitive nature.
Who are some of your favorite fashion designers- the ones who have offered you constant inspiration throughout the time?
I always appreciate designers that have a very different aesthetic than mine, those who are able to control things that I have absolutely no knowledge of.
Of course, I can relate to the dark Universe of Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, Comme des Garcons and all the look-alikes, but there's only one designer that always intrigued me and that is Walter van Beirendonck.
photo: Kevin Tachman for nymag.com
Where do you find your inspiration and what is the creative process from concept to final product?
My lifestyle and social background continue to have the greatest influence on my work. The fact that I had contact with the punk subculture from an early age made me develop clear political ideologies that later extended in my preferences in visual art and also music.
A crucial point was my experience in Berlin where I was able to uncover a spiritual side of myself that I never knew it existed. I found myself drawn to occultism and everything related. All of these experiences, combined with an interest in BDSM culture and club-kid aesthetics, made me who I am today.
As soon as I get an idea, I immediately start creating a character around it. When the character comes to life, I start dressing him/her. The clothes are usually representations of important moments of that character’s life; things that he/she loves or fears, projections of the past and hopes for the future. Somehow, the final product always has a naive, yet melancholic vibe to it. After the sketches are done, the biggest challenge follows: production.
How would you describe your signature style and what are your fashion obsessions at the moment?
At one point, I received a similar question from a publication and I honestly had no idea how to answer. Out of curiosity, I asked a very dear friend of mine the same question and he described my style as, and I quote: 'S&M alien/Goth priest'. Since I don't really like taking myself too seriously, I think it’s perfect and I’ve been using it ever since.
My three main fashion obsessions at the moment are: Gaspard Hex's 'Vitriol rings', KUBORAUM's black matte acetate sunglasses, and last but not least, Loewe's hand-painted 'Past. Present. Future' biker jacket.
Regarding your personal style, we noticed that you have lots of interesting tattoos. We dare you to pick three favs and let us know their story!
My absolute favorite is definitely the first one I had made. It extends discretely on both forearms and it spells 'hard' (on the right) and 'core' (on the left). When I was much younger, my friends and I were part of this 'brigade' and we used to organize underground punk concerts, Antifa gatherings and pretty much everything related. My tattoo is an ode to those defining times and to all my friends that fought for a change next to me.
My second favorite would be the illustration of a Korean artist that I got on my right arm. His name is Daehyun Kim and his art project is called 'moonassi'. In a very allegorical manner, it depicts a near-death experience I had in Berlin 2012, an experience that turned out to be life-changing.
Daehyun Kim and his art project is called 'moonassi'.
My latest one is also very dear to me. On my left upper leg lies a baby merman, a reflection of my constant feeling of misplacement, a feeling that was almost overwhelmingly strong when I was a child. When I was 3 years old, my parents were planning to take me for the first time to the Black Sea. My plan was to fool my mother into sewing me a merman tail and use it to swim away into the sea once I got there, never to come back again.
Which place do sunglasses have in your personal wardrobe? Do they start or complete an outfit? Tell us why you think sunglasses are important for your style and outfits.
I clearly identify with the sense of mystery that a pair of sunglasses can provide so I often find myself building entire outfits around them. When it comes to personal style, I consider a pair of sunglasses to have the same magnitude as a double-edged sword. They can easily make or break an outfit, hide or show a side of somebody's personality; therefore my advice is to handle them with the attention they deserve.
|PAWAKA "EMPAT 4" CAT-EYES|
|KUBORAUM "MASK Z6"||3.1 PHILLIP LIM "171"|
What do you feel is the main trend for this summer? We challenge you to mix it with a pair of sunglasses from our gallery of styles: one for him and one for her.
'Active-wear' has had a huge growth in popularity, reaching its peak this Spring-Summer season. To complete a sporty inspired look for him, I'd recommend something with a modern take and geometric shape like the white framed PAWAKA glasses. For all the sporty Lolitas out there who are looking for love this Summer, I kindly suggest a pair of heart-shaped CUTLER AND GROSS glasses.
|PAWAKA "SATU 1" GEOMETRIC FRAMES FOR HIM||Cutler And Gross "1204" heart shaped sunnies for her|
What do you feel is the best thing about Cluj, your hometown? And how would you describe Bucharest after having lived here? If you were to move to another city, which one would you pick and why?
Cluj-Napoca is the best place to gather your thoughts and reach conclusions. Bucharest is the perfect city to apply them and collect the results. Even though I would love to move to Berlin and dream my life away, I know that at one point I'll realize that this particular faith won't be enough to make me happy.CaTALIn looks great wearing a pair of PAWAKA "SATU 1" UNISEX FRAMES
Recently you celebrated you birthday anniversary. Happy birthday!We challenge you to imagine the perfect birthday party: where would it be? What music would you listen to? Who are the guests? What are you wearing? Every little detail that comes to your mind.
For one reason or another, I always celebrate my birthdays by myself. I think the best celebration would be lying on the roof of a building all alone, waiting for the clock to strike 12, while gazing at the stars and moon. As soon as the clock hits 12, I would light a cigarette and start playing 'Dreams' by Fleetwood Mac.
I won't be answering my phone all day.
photos: RALUCA MARGESCU | Creative Concept: Roxana Marcu | Location: Bucharest