ALEXANDRA AVALONE

ALEXANDRA AVALONE

So what’s the company culture at Eyesight?

It’s a super close-knit team. The offices in New York, Paris, and Milan have direct contact several times throughout the day. We take careful consideration to listen to each designer we work with, what they say and what they do not say. We treat each designer as they are the only one because they are so important to us. Regardless of a brand’s budget or the amount of time we’ve been working with them, each brand is, almost like family–that’s what's special about the company. We focus on every detail, even if a client wouldn’t notice. At Eyesight we take pride in our dedication, and I think that’s unique.

We all get along so well, both the New York and Paris offices. It's a real team culture. Everyone in the New York office jokes around with one another, and this is why we can be serious too. It’s just about balance. I love the people I work with and I think that's really special.

 

How big is the team?

We have 13 people in Paris, 5 in New York, and 2 in Milan. Having such a close-knit team has been great because I’ve gotten to know everyone really well. I enjoy spending time with the Paris office when I’m there for the shows. During Fashion Week in New York, the Paris team comes here as well, so it's like a little bit of bonding time.

 

How do you deal with the time difference?

With the internet, it’s almost as if there isn't a time change or a long distance between us. We make little adjustments, so we're in the office early to communicate with Paris. It also seems that Thierry never sleeps!

Paris reviews everything at night, so we get their responses first thing in the morning. It’s like we’ve developed a schedule that eliminates the time change, so we operate efficiently during the day. We have two weekly minimum Skype meetings, and we're back and forth on the phone a lot, so it's kind of like a remote office. If we have to, we’ll work late when it’s busy. We know that we can communicate with Paris past normal office hours, too. So basically we've just found a natural way to make it work.

 

How would you describe your role now?

I'm partner (!!) and project director of the New York office. I oversee a lot of the business development, budgets, clients, projects, and each show or event. I also oversee day-to-day communication with the designer and the press offices (who are also very important).

 

What have you learned from your role so far?

I don't know if I've learned from the position, but I've learned from being at the company and working closely with Marie and Thierry, who are so knowledgeable. Regardless of how long I've been there, I still feel like I have so much to learn. Marie and Thierry are incredible to work with, and I feel honored to be a part of their team.

 

Do you have a favorite show or project that you’ve worked on?

It's so hard to pick because there is this special energy around every single one. We build a relationship with every designer and their team and so much work and focus goes into every one that it's hard to pick. Every event is just as exciting as the last. Some are more complicated, so they take more time, but they’re all fun and unique.

 

Does Eyesight work on shows and projects or…

Eyesight as a company is mainly focused on fashion shows and events while Thierry has his own separate atelier. He works on other projects such as Silencio, Versailles, etc. Thierry is also designing light for the upcoming Met exhibit for Rei Kawakubo.

 

That's amazing. Are you working on that?

Yes, Thierry and Eyesight. Our team is overseeing some of the technical elements.

 

She's one of my absolute favorite designers.

Yes, she is incredible. I was at the Comme show on Sunday, and her way of being and her creativity is unparalleled. Every show is almost a historic moment, just being there and seeing it is incredible. It's like you're somehow seeing history happen live.

 

How do you immerse yourself in a designer's world before the collection is released and when decisions are still being made?

So shortly after a show, first we debrief on the notes of all that we could do better, then, we begin discussions with a designer and their team about venues for the next season, as venues in New York go very fast. During these meetings, we look at the preliminary mood boards, inspiration images and emotions the designer wants to evoke, which helps us speak with the designers about the direction of the venue and the aesthetic for the upcoming season.

Each designer, each brand has his own specific world, and our goal is to be the translator, bringing this world into 3-D. As soon as the venue is decided, Thierry works on designing the set/light and Marie is with the NY team and myself overseeing that the proposed set is clearly within budget, etc.

A few days before show day, Thierry, and I go to the showroom or to the designer's studio space to see the clothes, the fabrics, and the looks so that we—especially Thierry—can understand for lighting purposes. Throughout the process visual communication is a huge factor, we’ll be sending each other inspiration images along the way so that we’re both on the same page for the set and we can better understand their ideas.

Also it’s so fascinating creatively to see the clothing before anyone else. I love being able to understand the client and the designer's visions, inspirations and how they created these works of art.

 

What goes into creating a show from start to finish?

Once we agree to work with someone or once we build a new relationship, it's about listening and understanding them. The aesthetic of the brand, their specificities and their vision. It also involves understanding the trajectory too, because it’s much more than just a fashion show. It has to coincide with the campaign, the store front, the brand name and so once we discuss these things and understand everything, we have to find the venue, create a budget, design the scenic lighting, and organize the backstage and all of the details. Once you find the venue, it all just happens very fast.

 

How do you think the lighting and the venue help editors and show attendees see the collection?

Well, they wouldn't see much of the collections if it was in the dark! We use the lighting to emphasize the clothes, to create an emotional moment for the audience, to help create a memorable experience and love for the collection. For seasons now, Thierry has also worked on changing his light design to integrate the social media needs which have become 1/3 of the target. With social media, we also have to consider how a show will be captured on an iPhone.

 

Do you go to any lengths in order to make sure that the collection is captured well on an iPhone?

Not any great lengths but we do take it into consideration while we’re designing the set, the lighting and the movement of the models.

 

How do you ensure that what you’re producing in the venue doesn't overshadow the collection?

We never decide a scenography without understanding a brand. We do not copy and paste ideas from other designers as inspiration. Each set is unique and related to the brand.

 

How do you all schedule the shows you work on?

The ideal way of working would be to do one show a day. But for the most part, we aim to make sure that there's a 4-hour window between each show for the backstage call because it’s important for the whole team to be on-site at each show. Imagine that Thierry focuses each lamp himself, I oversee every backstage, show space and room with Marie. No one can delegate her or his own eyes! That would be pure business and we do not see ourselves as a pure business.

 

Thierry still goes to every show?

Yes, for sure, he oversees each lamp, model, set and I do as well. We have to make it to the show in order to call the models, organize the backstage, run the lighting and make sure that everything is perfect for the designers. It’s a matter of being able to dedicate our full focus and attention to each client.

 

That’s a smart way of doing it.

Yes, and I think it's really hectic with 3 or 4 shows in one day unless the producer has a huge team where everyone is a very strong element of their force. Even though, again, your own sensibility and your own eye cannot be delegated. It's hard to dedicate your best staff to 4 different shows at the same time. Someone needs to be there to run the lighting, etc. So yes, allotting enough time is crucial and vital to us because designers work so hard for those 10 minutes and we want them to be incredible.