Interview Hail Herchcovitch São Paolo, New York Credited with re-establishing a dormant Brazilian fashion scene, Alexandre Herchcovitch may be the most famous designer you've never heard of. He designs six collections annually, has shown in London and Paris for seasons, and is known as one of Brazil's top selling designers. The Brazilian government endorses his work, Björk wears his clothes, and he boasts a cult following of fashion insiders across the globe. Herchcovitch sat down with Jason Campbell on the eve of his New York runway debut to discuss why he's taken his line stateside, his role as a Brazilian style ambassador, and where he sees the label going. JCR: What's happening with the Alexandre Herchcovitch brand? AH: This year marks the tenth anniversary of the label. In 1998 I decided to show outside Brazil. I showed in London for three seasons and then realized that Paris would be a great place for the show, so I moved the collection there, where I was part of the official schedule for eight seasons. And then I was invited by Seventh on Sixth to show in New York. So I decided to move the whole strategy from Paris to New York. I have my PR company here, I have showrooms here. Opening Ceremony handles the menswear sales and People's Corporation, the womenswear and press. JCR: The sole motivation for a New York move was the Seventh on Sixth invitation? AH: I also have a lot of friends and people who know my work here and have bought my collection for a long time, so I thought this could be a great move for my brand. It's been 10 years and now and I'd really like the label to be spread across the best stores with the best people. So I think New York is the ideal choice for that program. JCR: The brand has ebbed and flowed in recent years, why the roller coaster ride? AH: In Brazil it's a different picture, my label sells in over 200 multi-brand stores and I have five self-owned stores. Every season my profile grows and now it's time to focus on the international market. JCR: The brand is a little dark; tell us about your dark side? AH: Ten years ago I think my mood was about the dark side of many, many things. For example, I used to be influenced by the nightlife in Brazil and all those dark disco subjects. I also collected skulls since childhood, not because they symbolize death but because they represent life. You need both flesh and bones for structure, to stand up. I chose this skull motif a long time ago as an image of the label which was a very strong image at the time. Also in the beginning I worked with dark colors and didn't really show the body. But if you notice, I started to work with colors four or five years ago to create more challenges for myself. Now it's about mixing colors and prints which has become a characteristic of the label. JCR: Who is the Herchcovitch customer? AH: My customer in Brazil is someone looking for something different, something that isn't necessarily a trend. People looking for real designers, who develop materials and colors and mix them in unique ways. People who desire new things, and new ways of expressing themselves and communicating something through their clothing. That's the person who wears my clothes. This is the same customer I see elsewhere. JCR: You're a national treasure in Brazil, a totem of Brazilian creativity and commercial success; do you have similar aspirations for the world? AH: I don't think too much about the very far future. I focus on now, the shows this week, step by step. I'm not in a hurry. I know there are a lot of people who could wear my clothes who don't even know that my collection exists. I want to show this new possibility to clients. Who is Alexandre Herchcovitch? Where does he sell? What are the collections about? What's the label about? It's about reaching those clients that I'm going to have. JCR: None of that hyper-strategic planning that's typically the American way? AH: No, no. I'm not living to be a big thing. I just want to express myself through the clothing. JCR: Brazil has arrived not just as a trendy destination but a veritable source for direction, what's happened there over the last three years? AH: I think people in general are starting to pay more attention to what Brazilian people are producing. It started with models, and then some photographers came to shoot their campaigns and editorials. Then came designers like me who wanted to be known abroad. Not just in fashion but in music, art, and movies, Brazilian art started to express itself outside of Brazil. So it's a combination of these different things. For two years people thought it was just a trend but after four or five years, it's not a trend anymore. So we're trying very hard to establish ourselves outside of Brazil. Brazil is not a trend that's going to pass.