by Katya Lavrovskaya
6 March 2012

German extraterrestrial in the Kingdom of French Couture

Tilmann Grawe has invited me to have an afternoon Kir Royal at Park Hayatt in Paris, a beautiful hotel next to place Vendome. The most interesting about this hotel is that there is a huge portrait in the lobby,  where Tilmann and other two French guys are looking at you with a slight sense of superiority. They are Parisians! And that’s the point – Tilmann doesn’t look like French at all, neither he is.  Originally German, he’s been living in Paris over 20 years and feels himself totally Parisian!


I am wondering how does it feel like to be hanging on the wall and in the history?


T: It feels good and funny. My friend, Cristian Durand has been working as an artist for a famous French atelier Darthea Speyer. One day she received a command to decorate this hotel. She asked me to pose for her. It was not exactly  what I used to do, but for the sake of art… Anyways, I put my father’s old gilet, which I thought,  was appropriate for the occasion,  and here I am. The funniest part is that I don’t have to be in the guest list anymore, my invitation is on the wall!


Me: I think you do not need any invitation for the simple reason that you are a famous designer. Tell me about your collaboration with Paco Rabanne. What does it mean to you?


T: It is  an episode of a pure creativity. And that was the most  important  part for me.


Tilmann is obviously too shy to recognize that the Haute Couture creations by Paco Rabanne were his merit too.


Me: Seven years in Haute Couture with Paco Rabanne is not just a mere episode…


T: Ok, let’s call it a cycle.  It was a very positive and creative time when I could work and make the fantasy come true without any restriction. But as the Haute Couture inevitably started to come to it’s end, it was time for me to quit too. In 2000 I have opened my own company and started to create my beloved metal and plexy things. Meanwhile, I found out that there were other great material such as silk from Lyon, embroidery from Calais. I just fell in love with them, touching and feeling their softness was really awesome. That’s how my own line of pret-a-porter grew, and draw the L’Oreal attention. They invested in me and it was  really great because I didn’t produce the t-shirts . My line had every single virtue of a Couture Luxury wear.


M: What is your opinion about Lady Gaga? She used to wear your pretty plexy hats, how do you call them by the way?


T: I call the “coiffe” – my first coiffe had a name from the first Soviet fiction movie “Aelita – Queen of all Martians”. And that’s what Lady Gaga was wearing.


Me: Would you like Lady Gaga to become your inspiration Muse?


T: You see, the Givenchy&Audry Hupburn times have gone. Lady Gaga is totally eccentric but absolutely independent in her style. She mingles the trends and impose them to others. This photo first has appeared in the specialized Music magazine for young globalltrotters. And then, in “LE Monde”, a quite conservative magazine for an elder audience. I call it  Gaglobalisation!!  It’ is actually cool , because i think that there should be somebody wearing total yellow when the rest of the audience is wearing black. I  just saw Kathy Perry with blue hair pass by. I think it’s beautiful!


Me: How about Russia? Everybody is in black and you are wearing your “coiffe” with plexy balls and pink feathers?


T:  It was not exactly as you say. I found in Russia that professionally people are very serious, but as for fun and creativity they are absolutely unique.


Me:  Do you agree with Karl Lagerfeld when he says that Russian women are gorgeous,  meanwhile Russian men are ugly?


T: Not at all. I think Russian men are not ugly, they are just more rough. They will never make 1000 miles in order to find a special shape of shoes like Italians would do.



Me: How about Russian women?


T: I had to make a casting in St.Petersburg once. I could not choose the most beautiful girl among others for the simple reason that all  girls looked great.  Besides ,I found out one particular thing that you could  not see anywhere else. Many of these models used to be a ballet dancers. So, they had an incredible grace of a classic ballet dancer and a real soldier discipline that I believe is taught in the Russian ballet schools. That was amazing!


Me: How do you see a perfect lady? What should she wear?


T: High heels absolutely. Shoes with high heels, but no more that 10 inches though, make a great difference. The way woman walks and keeps her back straight in high heels is very sensual to me!


I didn’t really ask Tilmann about his best place on earth, as I already understood it was Paris. But when I wanted to ask about the nearest future in terms of new professional achievements, Tilmann got very mistirious and asked me to keep a top secret.

That’s why I can’t reveal it to you unless we see something fabulous coming up soon! And that would very Parisian style I believe!!!


Photo : Stéphane Grangier

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