I M P O S S I B L E IS N O T ETIENNE
This man here is Etienne Russo, 55, founder and head of the Brussels-based production company Villa Eugénie, which is responsible for helping to conceive shows by labels including Kenzo, Hermès, Lanvin, Moncler, Chanel, Dries Van Noten…
The spectacular flashmob at Grand Central Station for Moncler Autumn/Winter 2011? That was Russo. The elaborate and theatrical Thom Browne shows? Russo again. In total, Etienne Russo has produced more than 800 fashion shows.
∞ ∞ ∞
But what exactly does he do?
“I’m kind of a usurper, I don’t have a title”
He gives a little hope to everyone aiming to enter the fashion business (you know… that army of creatives crowding the european capitals these days, they usually introduce themselves as fashion designers, photographers, stylists). His job is strategic just like something you cannot define †
Born in Belgium to Italian parents, Russo’s love affair with fashion first began when a friend asked him to model in a show he was styling. Russo reluctantly agreed.
“On the set I was more interested in what was happening around me, the styling, the make-up, the hair, the lights”
And although he later went on to work as an international model, it was always the production that affected him most deeply.
Russo was also involved in Brussels nightlife, working as a bartender at the trendy Mirano nightclub, where he later became artistic director.
“There were fantastic parties with huge sets, performers, things you don’t see very often nowadays”
And indeed, it was working at the club that opened new doors for Russo.
“There were these totally unknown young designers that we later called ‘the Antwerp Six (referring to an influential group of designers who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980 and 1981) I started working with them; Walter [van Beirendonck] and a little bit with [Dirk] Bikkembergs and Dries [van Noten].”
Indeed, for the fifth anniversary of the Mirano, Russo arranged what was his best event yet, featuring artists, musicians, performers — and five of the Antwerp Six.
In what would later prove to be a critical career move, Russo eventually deepened his collaboration with Dries van Noten. “After doing small photoshoots with them, I went on the road to work on sales.” Each season, Russo, van Noten and his sales director would drive all the way from Antwerp to Florence for the Pitti tradeshow, before heading onwards to the Milan and Paris fashion weeks.
“We would build the presentation set ourselves, take it down and then transform it into a showroom,” remembers Russo fondly. “I even cooked for Dries!”
But the turning point came in 1991 when van Noten approached Russo and said: “‘You know what? I’m going to do my first show in Paris, do you want to do it?’” recalls Russo. “I’ve been thanking him for 21 years now”
WORK WITH YOU H E A R T, YOUR H E A D AND YOUR G U T S, AND DON’T TAKE ‘NO’ AS AN ANSWER
visit http://www.villaeugenie.com ©