David Koma is bursting with ideas – and that’s just as well. Since 2013, the 33-year old Georgian fashion designer has not only had his own-name fashion line, which has dressed Beyonce and Hailey Baldwin, but has also been creative director at French fashion house Mugler (founded by Thierry Mugler) since 2013, a job he says he has dreamed of having since he was a child.
After graduating from London fashion college Central St Martins in 2009, he presented his first collection at London Fashion Week two years later – to plaudits from critics – and has gone on to have fashion shows at London every season since. Distinctive, bodycon style dresses with strong structural shapes form much of his collections, with neutral or monochrome colour palettes, and he rarely strays from that aesthetic.
With his own label a huge success David was approached by Thierry Mugler in 2013 to become creative director of the French brand Mugler. As a huge fan of the brand and Thierry as a designer, this was a job David says he had dreamed of doing since he was young. Mugler is known for its classic French style with a powerful edge; since joining, David’s made the brand more daring than ever with cut-out dresses and architectural shapes becoming the backbone of recent collections.
David is now creating eight collections a year, so it’s fair to say he’s a busy man. Nonetheless, Friday nabbed him for a chat on a recent trip to Dubai to visit Maison BMore Boutique, a local stockist for his namesake designs.
How is being artistic director at Mugler different to creating your own collection?
They are very different brands but they are both my babies and I think you can see my handwriting in both. David Koma is aimed at a very young woman; I think Mugler is much more grown-up and sophisticated.
Was it a big challenge for you at first?
This is a job I’ve wanted since I was a child so I have just embraced it all and want to try my best to do a great job. Thierry Mugler was one of my inspirations when I was growing up so it’s incredible to actually be working for the brand.
How do you manage your time?
I do have two really great teams – without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I’m designing eight collections a year, so it’s not easy. I live in London and work in Paris every other week – it’s just a two and a half hour train journey so it’s doable, but I have a busy life, that’s for sure!
How does the fashion industry in the two cities compare?
They are very different – London is all about free spirit, coolness and creativity. Paris is much classier and very elegant. I actually really enjoy both and I’m lucky to be living and working in both cities.
With two fashion brands to create for, how do you constantly keep thinking of ideas and inspiration?
Getting ideas has never been an issue for me. I travel a lot, I go to museums I see a lot of interesting things that inspire me all the time. My issue is more time than ideas – actually having time to put those ideas into practice is the difficult part.
There’s a lot of changes happening in the fashion industry at the moment – how do you feel about the movement of designers from some of the big brands?
I like all the changes and what is happening in the industry at the moment. There is a big shift. A lot of young designers are getting roles as creative directors at big brands and that is something I love to see. Many of these designers have worked really hard to get where they are and it’s great to see some of them having success.
What about the ‘see now, buy now’ trend?
For some brands, it’s good – especially for the ones who did it first, but I don’t know what would happen if everyone was doing it. For my brands, I like the idea but I don’t think it’s appropriate.
An outsider what is your impression of fashion in Dubai?
I haven’t had a chance to look into local and young designers here, but in terms of the stores and malls you have it all. I would say you need more investment in education and mentoring designers, as that is how you really start a fashion capital. [Read how the Dubai Design and Fashion Council is doing exactly that here.]
What advice would you give if you were a mentor?
Make sure that this really is the thing that you want to do. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not glamorous. If you can’t imagine your life without it, then you have to go for it.
What do you think about the modest fashion movement that’s happening at the moment?
There is definitely a customer for it and I think it will do really well in the world – for me I think there are enough girls around the world that fit the David Koma profile to keep making my style of clothes.
What type of woman inspires you?
I get inspired by happy, successful women. They can be successful in any way – their job, their family, their body – but as long as they have a sparkle in their eye I want to see them in my designs.
Would you ever consider launching your own beauty line or fragrance?
Maybe one day, but I have a lot going on so there’s no plans to do it just yet. Mugler is already very successful with its fragrance [Angel and Alien are just two of the hugely popular scents] and we can expect to see some more things happening with this in the future.
What more can we expect to see from you this year?
I have my show at London Fashion Week in September; that is the next big thing for me, and, of course, the Mugler show in Paris.
And finally, on the rare occasions that you actually get a day off, what do you do?
If I’m in London I stay in bed all day and watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix!
David Koma’s Spring/Summer 17 collection is now available at Maison BMore Boutique, Mall of the Emirates.