And so on a sunny afternoon our tape started recording, as we explored Erich Biehle’s mind, his great advice on Art School aftermath, favourite artists and his expertise for those trying to snap the perfect gift. If you want to read all about Erich’s career once again, you are just a click away.
What is the biggest difference between art and fashion?
The only difference between art and fashion is that you don’t have the pressure of repeating yourself. The only boundaries set were technical and dimension wise.
For those fresh out of the university gates: Erich advises that „the main thing is to do what you want, if you cannot do that look for something else. You must look at yourself in a critical way. Ask yourself: Do you really have that exceptional talent, do you really think that you can get where you need to be? Are you willing to begin with very little and invest in the future?”
For those trying to snap the perfect gift: First of all, I think it is a bad idea to buy personal gifts for somebody else. In the old days you got these hand-knit sweaters that an aunt made, they had an ugly colour and you would never wear. It is a little similar to nowadays. I am not keen about giving something to wear, I prefer when someone picks something and tries it on then you can purchase it for them. At Givenchy, I had the luxury to just go in at the Men’s Collection and pick up what I wanted and it would fit.
Who are your favourite Artists?
Georges Braque reminded me a little bit of my dad and I like his sensible work. Raoul Dufy, we had the same profession and it is interesting he also worked at Bianchini-Férier, a company that I also realized designs for. I very much like Hockney and it’s funny Hubert [Givenchy] likes him, too and so did Yves Saint Lauren. I liked Andy Warhol, I saw it [his work] a lot. He was good friends with Thomas [Ammann] and with Bruno [Bischofberger] it was also part my world, the strong colours and he made a difference in the art world, he opened so many doors to others.
I dont know if I told you the story, you know about Thomas Ammann, his family wanted him to take over the family company, a transporting company and he hated what he studied- but he liked art, and the people who were working in art, or fashion. His friend, partner at the time, Alexander Schmidheiny, they were very young, was also pressed to do engineering at the ETH, he could hardly stand it. I would always see them skiing at Klosters among our mutual friends. They came to visit me in Lucerne one day and talked about their problem, they thought since I found my way, how could they find theirs. Then a friend of mine came to mind; the editor of Camera Magazine, and I introduced them, he gave them some help and Thomas was very happy that at least he had a hobby. I also recommended him to go and see Bruno Bischofberger, which he did and he hired him, this is also how I met Warhol at the Kronenhalle.
What was the best advice somebody has given you?
To be reliable. To know what does it do when you are not there where you need to be, when you are too late for something.
Q&A conducted by Dimitria
Copyrighted images from Erich Biehl’s archive