Four years ago the destinies of four international fashion fanatics, hailing from four corners of the word, eclipsed in New York City cataclysmically giving birth to an inimitable lifestyle known as As Four. Shunning the tendency to conform and abandoning the need to be accepted, four unusual people of panache; Adi, Ange, Gabi and K.A.i, set out to be who they are—nothing more, nothing less. Luckily for the realm of moda, the pure quintessence of the fab-4 was so uniquely poetic, intensely ingenious and unabashedly uninhibited that As Four’s original work, characterized by inventive cuts, elaborate couture-like details and expert tailoring, began challenging the familiar topography of fashion. Today, post international acclaim and remarkable success the unapologetically talented members of the Four phenomenon continue to work around the clock in their studio in the heart of NY’s loud and overcrowded Chinatown. After all they have clothes to make, boundaries to stretch, people to inspire and a new store to open.
In spite of their dizzyingly busy schedule Fashionlines rendezvoused with the ultra busy marginal quartet soon after the runway debut of their Fall/Winter 2005 collection. Amidst taking a phone order from a Saudi Arab, who wanted to order identical outfits for his entire family of 14, reviewing patterns and sewing ruched denim pants by hand, the ladies and gentlemen of As Four answered questions about the past, present and the future of their planet of style. Here is an account of the cosmic interview.
F: How did you discover each other? How did As Four come to life?
Gabi: We met in New York. The girls were stylists and I was already working as a designer. K.A.i: We figured we had the same kind of life and sensibilities. We were also interested in similar things, so we decided to work together.
F: How does the collaborative process between four people work?
Adi:There are ups and downs, but mostly it works really well for us. K.A.i:We all have different aspects, but all intermingles. We do much more than just design. We do everything ourselves. We are the designers, tailors, PR people and more.
F: How would you describe As Four’s creations? What defines your work?
Ange: It is the soul. The soul defines the clothes. K.A.i:Our clothes are defined by a couture sensibility. Each piece is unique. They are hand tailored with details. Our creations are not meant to be worn only at the ball, like much of what you see in Paris. It is suitable for everyday, but overall there is a feeling of glamour. Gabi:Somehow it all comes together. It simply works.
F: How do your personal styles factor into the equation that is As Four?
Ange: There is no difference between our personal styles and As Four. As Four is who we are and what we like. For us there is no distinction between day and evening wear for instance. We just wake up and dress like this. (She points out to her kitten print wrap around silk shirt, KA.i’s head-to-toe gold ensemble and Gabi’s elaborately sequined shirt.) People often ask us, “Are you going to a party?” in the middle of the day. K.A.i: We just make clothes that we would like to wear. Moreover, we wear only the stuff we make. We all like certain styles and certain things that are very personal and we like to wear ourselves and we integrate all these elements into our work. We don’t come to work just to be here. This is our life. We come in here everyday and live this life. Our work is our life. There are no barriers between the two. Ange actually lives here in the studio. (She nods from behind her oversized spectacles.) Gabi:We try things on ourselves first and then we criticize it and make adjustments.
F: How does living and working in NY impact you and your art?
Gabi:We are inspired by the energy and the freedom that allows us to be who we are.
Adi: As Four is not only for New York and New Yorkers. It is very unique yet global. We went to Moscow and showed there and the response was phenomenal.
F: How was showing your Spring/Summer 2004 collection in Los Angeles?
Gabi:The show remains the same, but the people are very different. (Laughs) Our work fits everywhere in the world.
F: Who is your dream client?
Gabi:No one specific. We are open to everyone. As Four for everyone. We have clients from all over the world. Ange:For instance not long ago a criminal lawyer from Boston came to our studio and purchased a few pieces. She told us, “I love your work.” All kinds of people come in seeking our clothes. K.A.i:When we are creating we don’t have someone specific in mind. Our work is a reflection of us. As you can see we surround ourselves with mirrors. (He points out to the floor to ceiling mirrors encircling us.) We don’t really care much about who wears our clothes. If celebrities love it then that is perfect, but we don’t necessarily do something for a specific person. But on the other hand when we work with customers and they give us suggestions and tell us what they want we do that. We customize our clothes for the individual.
F: If you could change one aspect of the fashion industry what would you choose to alter?
Adi: We would make it more fun. It seems like it is always the same styles everywhere we turn. We have a very distinct look, silhouette. As Four collections are like no other and we evolve with each collection. Even though we bring in new elements we keep the core look as it is. Ange: Even if we find vintage pieces we don’t just put them on as they are. We asfourize them.
F: Your pieces are intricately cut, precisely tailored. What techniques do you employ when constructing your conceptions?
K.A.i:We use patterns, but most of the time we cut freehand. Our work has the couture essence in terms of the details and craftsmanship, but it is not Couture in the traditional sense of the word—you know fringe and feathers. They are instant creations personalized to a certain object. In terms of intricacy, they are complicated. Sometimes we forget how to put it all together. (Laughs)
F: What is your view of trends?
Adi:There are many different levels of trends-- local trends, global trends. Regardless we do not care about trends. Our world and our fashion sense are outside of trends. We never let our work be dictated by such a thing. We don’t want to do that.
K.A.i:Many things get created by the media and other people. We just create ourselves. We don’t have image makers. We are As Four and we are who we are, but we are happy when people love us.
F: Do you go to the archives for inspiration?
K.A.i:Not really. We all come in with our ideas. We all bring in different elements and we try to combine it and work it into something that makes sense as a whole.
F: For Spring/Summer 2004 you chose gold as your point of inspiration. Then for Fall/Winter 2005 you surprised critics with a sophisticated black collection. How do you decide on a theme or coin a concept?
Ange: There is not a certain point or precise moment when we decide which color or fabric we will work with. It all happens in due time. Moreover, we want to show the world all the possibilities. Working with only black is a very difficult task. It was a challenge for us, too. We wanted to see if we could do it. We go one step at a time. We set a goal and as we accomplish that goal we set the next one.
F: How did you resolve to piece together a colorfully exuberant and playfully rich line for children?
Ange:All our friends have children and it started out as an idea. Before we knew it we had so many children in the studio! It was so different working with the little arms, legs and different body shapes. It was a way for us to express ourselves through a different medium. K.A.i: We see the same things again and again with a little variation and we thought, “Why not do something really different?” Gabi: It is a challenge to do something black with an interesting twist.
F: What does the future have in store for As Four?
Adi:Our own store! Here in NY—a new kind of interactive store. Sort of like a life style. We will be there and the customers will be there. We are taking steps towards that goal, but we need a sponsor because we can not do it on our own.
If you would like to purchase As Four creations please visit:
Barney’s New York
660 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021-8448
TEL 212 826 8990
213 Rue Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris, France
TEL 01-5535 3390