If you were to ask Madonna, Natasha Poly, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Cara Delevingne about their go-to red-carpet designer, they would probably all point to David Koma. Indeed, his eponymous brand had been worn by just about every Hollywood celebrity you could think of.
In 2013, Koma was assigned to replace Nicola Formichetti as the creative director of popular 90s French brand Mugler and, as a major fan, he happily obliged. It was an easy transition for Koma, who shared the same design codes and aesthetic as the French house. Through his artistic direction, Mugler has made a successful comeback and is now on every industry insider and celebrity’s radar.
With fellow Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia also managing to seamlessly overhaul another major luxury brand while still handling his own, one might wonder: Is there something in Georgia’s water?
On his recent (and first ever) trip to Dubai for an event with multi-brand luxury boutique Maison BMore, the young designer met with Savoir Flair to discuss dancing, designing, and working under pressure.
What brought you here to Dubai?
Different reasons. I was invited to an event three days ago, and that is the first reason. And then we thought it would be amazing to do another event at Maison BMore, which stocks my brand, and have a day on the beach – so three good reasons to come to Dubai!
Was Dubai what you expected?
Actually, I always thought that it was a very sunny, colorful city, but it started raining the minute I arrived, so I was a bit shocked! It was very sunny the next day, however, so it has proven that it’s as beautiful as I imagined.
You had a really early start in design. What would you say to your eight-year-old self, when you discovered fashion, and to your 15-year-old self, when you started participating in design contests?
Well, to my eight-year-old self, I’d say, “You’ve chosen the right path. You’ve done everything right.” And to my 15-year-old self, I would say, “Keep doing it; it’s going to work.”
You’ve cited designers in the 60s like Thierry Mugler and Pierre Cardin as your eternal inspirations. What is it about that era that fascinates you the most?
Actually, the designers are from a mix of eras because Pierre Cardin is more from the 60s, and there was a Cardin collection that I loved from the 60s. Then, there’s a big group of designers from the 80s that influenced me, so it’s a mix of 60s and 80s that kind of created my own style.
What I love about the 80s is that they were all about the superpowers and incredible models, as well as embracing the body and making it really sensual. The 60s, meanwhile, were so much fun; everything looked very futuristic. You can therefore see a lot of futurism in my design. So the combination of these two creates these very graphic, quirky, but also sensual pieces that represent David Koma.
What was your perception of Mugler before becoming its Creative Director in 2013, and what was the design brief when you joined?
It was a dream house for me because, when I was growing up and discovering the big designers, Mugler was kind of my first love. I discovered the brand and was able to watch this documentary when I was 12 – it was not only one collection that I loved, but also a retrospective from the house. So when I was approached to become the Creative Director, it was a dream come true. When I started with a new team in Paris, everything was based on instinct and trying to enjoy what I was doing and work hard.
When I see your sporty-meets-sensual designs for Mugler, I see a woman who acts with grace under pressure. You’re currently running two brands, so would you say that you are equally adept at dealing with pressure?
To be honest with you, I do work a lot, but at the same time, I have to mention my beautiful teams – my team in London is incredible, as is my team in Paris. They help calm me down and avoid facing pressure. They do everything for me to feel comfortable, so it’s not quite the same.
You’ve mentioned your love for classical dance in other interviews. Do you dance yourself?
I mean, I love dancing – my love for ballet comes from the period that I lived in St. Petersburg. I was living close to Mariinsky Theatre and lucky enough to see some of the rehearsals, just to kind of be engaged with the whole performance – not only from the audience’s side, but also from the inside. They were always very intriguing, so that’s where it comes from. Yeah – if I go out, I do dance!
What are your favorite songs to dance and work to?
Any cool pop music or house music, I’m with you.
Do you think the Mugler woman exists and lives in the Middle East?
I would describe the David Koma or Mugler woman as strong, powerful, happy, and successful in her life – and women like that exist everywhere in the world. You just need to look for the sparkle in their eyes.
The David Koma Spring/Summer 2017 collection is available at Maison BMore in Mall of the Emirates.