We were so intrigued by fashion student Pablo Henard’s retro-futuristic menswear collection that we profiled him on these pages last year. He recently showcased a striking 4th year collection cheekily dubbed “Good Mourning” dedicated to widows and mourning, of all things. We caught up with Henrard – who’s preparing for his final year at La Cambre Mode(s) in Brussels – to talk logistics, concepts and an internship at Gaultier Couture in Paris.

What challenges did you meet putting the collection together?

Even though there were only a couple more outfits in the line-up compared to last year’s menswear collection, I found the whole process more difficult this time. Many things happened last minute and logistics were tough. Finding the right models for the show was tricky, too.

How long in advance do you plan your casting?

Each student is responsible for his or her own casting and you need to deal with the agencies yourself. As a student, you’re not necessarily given priority and have to justify why a model should be in your show. Actually it’s great, because you get to meet people you can build relationships with.

How did you feel the day of the show?

There was a really nice energy backstage and the models seemed to like what they were wearing, which is important as it puts them in a good mood. The hair and make-up teams were great, too, and I felt like I could rely on people. It was reassuring. I had ten models to dress and my friend Marine helped me backstage.

Can you fill me in a bit more about your collection?

I was inspired by Man Ray‘s solarised negatives and mourning as a passage in life. It was not so much about being in mourning, but trying to overcome loss and moving on. I worked with black and white, as well as flocking. I was thinking about stained glass windows in churches. My lines were fairly architectural, and I used embellishment and different textures to add surface interest.

I like the way you included cross stitch needlework, and felt. Is geometry important in your work?

Definitely. I work a lot with symmetry and this idea of positive/negative. Duality is something I’m attracted to. There was also a musicality in the collection I wanted to develop. It was about contrasting the traditional idea of mourning with something more futuristic. I didn’t want the collection to be too theatrical and was trying to avoid stereotypes usually associated with widows. I named my collection “Good Mourning”, because I wanted something lighthearted and a bit cheeky.

How intense is the creative process for you?

Collections are obsessive and I go through the same thing each year. I sort of become my collection in a way, it’s a part of me and I don’t see a real separation between the clothes and who I am. I guess they express aspects of my personality I might not even be aware of. I love the whole thing, from start to finish. It gives you an opportunity to really get into the story you want to tell.

Tell me about your internship at Gaultier. How was it for you?

Amazing… I was helping out within the Couture department and the craftsmanship was unbelievable. There were so many garments and images that inspired me. The atmosphere was friendly and it felt comfortable, a bit like a family. There was this bomber-style jacket I worked on before the show, which was covered with feathers and lined in fur. People think that Haute Couture is not doing well, but the jacket was ordered by several clients and it can be a profitable business for some houses. Couture is the ultimate creative playground for designers, as there are no limitations to what you can do.

Would you say that there is a French sensibility in your work?

I like the idea of an elegant grande dame, which is quite French, but my sense of humour is very Belgian.