Putting together a fashion show is a lot of pressure. But to do it with eight weeks in advance.
This is the challenge that the British Paul Surridge faced last year, when he took over as creative director of the Italian clothing brand Roberto Cavalli, with less than two months to go until the Milan Fashion Week.
But, he tells BBC News that the tight turnaround was probably a blessing in disguise, as he didn’t give him the time to stop and think about the huge work that he had just inherited.
“If you think about whose shoes you’re filling, there is obviously a lot of pressure. But at the time it was the sleeves up, head down, get on with the job,” he says.
“A good leader is someone who gives good instructions and know what you want. My job was to communicate and respond faster. A new team, a new feeling, a new quest. In the office 24/7, until the map was finished. It was a huge challenge.”
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Cavalli is known for the colorful and glamorous red carpet dresses usually seen on movie stars, but Surridge says he was eager to expand.
“When I was in the company last year, I made a detour to the shops,” he says.
“Cavalli is an ambitious brand, a Synonym for lifestyle, luxury, glamour. But today, a brand must grow, relevant, and accessible to some degree, and I had the feeling that there is a lack of daywear in horses.
“Everyone knows they [the company] for the red carpet dress, but this is a person on a carpet for a moment in the life. How do we collect the new millennial mindset? So I kind of fixed concentration on daywear.”
What the critics have to say?
“‘Who?’ Was the punch at the end, when it was announced that Surridge has been chosen to succeed Peter Dundas in this house. However, if you do not pay attention to men’s clothing, then you need to know about Surridge.” – Vogue
“Surridge’s debut collection, the result of an eight-week baptism of fire, and revealed in September to positive, if not enthusiastic, reviews, took horses into fresh territory. The look is modern, pared-back, day-friendly, resistance against the excesses of decadence and glamour for which the label is known for.” – Vanity Fair
“Surridge does not understand that the Roberto Cavalli woman is on the search for a minimal-design, or a dark and shapeless silhouette. He is, however, also attract, in the hope that a new client to Roberto Cavalli court. To do So, he instead tries to move away from ‘the covers very present styles of intellectual fashion”, something more sensual.” – The Financial Times
Surridge appointment came after a turbulent time for Cavalli. It had streamlined its various brands and seen the arrival (and departure) of the designer Peter Dundas, which lasted only 19 months as a creative director for a relatively short period of time.
His debut collection in 2015, has received mixed reviews, and soon after he bought an Italian private-equity-funds-a 90% stake in the brand and outlined plans for a creative and commercial overhaul.
Surridge took over last summer, despite a relatively less known figure, but stabilized the ship and made a success of his first fashion week show, despite the limited time frame.
What is his day to makes-to-day job actually?
“A creative director, today a curator,” he explains.
Roberto Cavalli fall/winter 2018 collection debut on Friday at 15:00 CET (14:00 GMT) in the framework of the Milan Fashion Week.