Hans Ulrich Obrist: “Demna Gvasalia has become part of the Zurich miracle”


Demna Gvasalia is a fashion icon. The designer once founded the hip label Vetements together with his brother. Today, among other things, he is creative director of the luxury brand Balenciaga. At the GDI Retail Summit, he will be interviewed by Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries in London. Here Obrist explains Gvasalia’s influence.

Demna und Obrist

You are going to interview Demna Gvasalia at the GDI Retail Summit. Which will be your first question?

Demna, how did it all start? How did you become a designer? What was your epiphany?

A Google search with "Demna" and "wunderkind" results in more than a million hits. What makes this designer so unique?

I like to think about Demna’s work as oscillation and transition. He moves the everyday into
fashion and fashion into the everyday. He always creates a moment of surprise. And we need more surprises.

The used Vêtements T-shirt with DHL imprint is offered for USD 500. Please explain that to an outsider.

A sneaker can be desirable, and so can a T-shirt. A T-shirt by Demna is a distinguisher.

To what extent has Demna Gvasalia changed the fashion business?

Demna made a striking move to Zurich and has become part of the Zurich miracle. In the early 90s, when I left Switzerland, there was still this avantgarde idea that you have to live in a metropole – and I moved to Paris. Today Zurich is a center among many other centers, attracting creatives, scientists, tech-companies.

You're a curator. When does fashion become art?

To say it with Robert Musil: art can occur where we expect it least. The same is true for fashion. The Vetements show this week at the McDonalds on Champs Elysee: this was an unexpected context. It was again the creation of surprise. We are today experiencing a super fluidity of disciplines. The artist Etel Adnan says: identity is shifty, identity is a choice.


Demna Gvasalia will be inteviewed by Hans Ulrich Obrist at the GDI Retail Summit. Get your ticket now!