Cédric Charlier: A Designer for The Real World

Jessica Michault,

Belgian designer Cédric Charlier is about to celebrate two milestones in his life, the 5th anniversary of his brand and his 40th birthday. Both dates have kind of snuck up on him. This is because he is a designer who is so incredibly focused on the work. On making beautifully cut garments in attractive graphic designs that made real world clothing look and feel special. It’s a belief personified in his new t-shirt collaboration with Fruit of the Loom, his choice to present only two times a year and in his own elegantly understated approach to the business of fashion.

A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 13th issue of ODDA Magazine.

Click below to listen to the Fashion Your Seatbelt Podcast interview with Cedric Charlier.


One of the things that I was really surprised about was the way that you’re positioning your brand and the fact that you are presenting your first man collection with your woman collection. Can you talk about why you did such a break with the norms and decided to do your own thing?

Yeah, at that moment my idea was to present my first collection during the Men’s Fashion Week and to present my woman collection too. I like the idea of presenting both together. It made sense for me, since it’s my creation process too. As you know, it’s the best time and the right time for the sales too. And that’s very important for me. So that’s why I introduced during the Men’s Fashion Week.

And then you moved on to your Spring/Summer collection, you didn’t do a fashion show at all. You actually went ahead and just did a presentation. What made you decide to skip your fashion show?

I kept the date but I wanted to push the image and that’s why I developed more videos and more pictures because, as you know, the digital takes a huge place. That’s why I decided to move.

Designer Cédric Charlier

What has the reaction been to this change ?

Actually, my sales are quite good so it means that it’s the right thing to do. I was closer to the people, to the press, to the customer. Now I have time to talk with everybody.

And you recently did a partnership with Fruit of the Loom? What made you decide you wanted to make a collaboration with them?

I just really wanted to make some t-shirts… like really bad. Instead of trying to develop it myself in Italy, I said why not ask one of the most important brand? So we decided to call Fruit of the Loom and we had a first meeting and then a second one. And that’s the beginning of the experience. So I was going to New York and, in my head, it was just going to be a one-shot thing, but immediately we decided to make it a long collaboration and agreed on 2 years.

And so, how did you make the classic Fruit of the Loom t-shirt your own ? Something that’s Cédric Charlier.

I made like 4 different styles, 4 t-shirts. I decided to work on the classic so the one with the pocket. I made another one with the print and I played with the logo Fruit of the Loom, I cut the logo. Then another one was about stripes so I took all the color palette that I developed for the t-shirts and I assembled them all together as a new stripe. And the last of is a destructured t-shirt, I took an S size and an L size, cut it in two parts and put them together.

A selection of Fruit of the Loom t-shirt reimagined by Cedric Charlier.


I want to go back a little bit now. I googled you and there’s another Cedric Charlier, a hockey player that comes up first, so I wanted to get more details about you, your history.

I come from the countryside of  Belgium and I was always completely passionate by horses and I was riding and all until I turned 18, then I went to fashion. That’s when I moved to Brussels to study fashion. I only stayed for a very short time in Brussels, only 2 years and a half because I won a competition. It was le Concours des Jeunes Créateurs Belges and it was organized by LVMH.

Before it became the famous LVMH prize.

Yes. So I won the first price. I was introduced to Michael Kors, who was at Céline at that time. So it was my beginning in Paris and I worked for about 2 years with Michael Kors.

Let’s stop here. So that’s the beginning of your career. You spent time with Kors and then Jean Paul Knott and then at Lanvin with Alber Elbaz. Can you talk a little bit about working with those three different men and what you learned from each of them?

It was all completely different. When I was working with Michael Kors, I was more focusing on the accessorize department at Céline. So, for me, it was more about discovering work and my first experience in a huge house. I was 21 at that time so it was quite impressive and Michael is an impressive designer. And working with an American designer it was completely different from my Belgium background.

How is it different?

Because of the culture, because of the history, because of the past. Because you know in Belgium, we have no real fashion history. In America it’s different, in Paris it’s an even bigger difference.

And so you were there for two years and then you decided to move ?

I decided to move because I wanted to come back to clothes. And I met Jean Paul Knott. My dream at that time was to work for Yves Saint Laurent but I thought Jean Paul was the first assistant in the past, so he could probably teach me something. As a Belgian guy, I was really close to him and it was really interesting. He really taught me how to drape, how to play with the fabric, share with me what was his vision of “minimal.” And it was a really beautiful experience.

A recent post on the official Cedric Charlier Instagram feed.

And then 6 years with Alber Elbaz?

Yes, I was first in charge of everything that was outside of the atelier. And, after one year, I became the first assistant with another girl. And you know it was a very great moment for Lanvin. It was incredible. It was my school. My real school.

And what do you take away from that time with Alber ?

I think that Alber taught me something really important which is to respect women. To never forget that women have souls and have a face. And you need to see the face more than the dress.

And then you decided to take over Cacharel and become the brand’s artistic director. What made you want to do that?

It’s more an opportunity that came up to me. And I took that job as an experience because I wasn’t really expert in prints and colors and it was a great job as a first. It was really interesting.

So, for somebody who doesn’t know you brand. How do you separate yourself out from everybody else? 

I think one of my obsessions is about the cut. I’m constantly focused on the cut, it’s really important for me. So, that’s the first part of my work and my process. And also, I love to play with colors. So it’s always about cut and colors, and about graphism. And I think I make naturally “real clothes”, for everyday and every moment. And I think all that combines to make my signature.

GPS Radar

Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.

the writer

Jessica Michault

Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.

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