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Charles Youssef (London, UK)

The 28 year-old designer hailing from New York is looking forward to a good night's sleep...

Charles Youssef may have only just graduated from CSM but his ambitious, bold, innovative MA Womenwear collection has grabbed the attention of some of the industries greatest minds, like Nicola Formichetti and Jane How - and it has launched Charles as one of the most exciting new talents of 2010.

Dazed Digital: How old are you?
Charles Youssef: 28

DD: Where were you born and what was life like for a young Charles?
Charles Youssef: I was born on the Christian side of Beirut, Lebanon but mostly grew up in Manhattan. 

DD: Where did you study?
Charles Youssef: I did my BA at Parcons School of Design and then my MA at Central Saint Martins

DD: Why did you decide to do an MA and why come to London’s CSM?
Charles Youssef: After my BA I worked in NY for 5 years, most recently at Ralph Lauren as a designer. The creativity of London has always appealed and I went to CSM to transition into the London industry.

DD: When did your interest in Fashion begin?
Charles Youssef: My mother was a Fashion Designer when I was growing up so it started really early. I remember her having a children’s capsule in one of her collections and putting me in her show when I was 5. I always saw myself as an Artist and being a Designer was my way to combine Art with the human body.

DD: Did you study art as a child?
Charles Youssef: I was an Art Major in high school, I started drawing the human body when I was 13, you had to drawn the naked body to apply for my major in fine arts. I remember always stylising a models features and proportions and my tutor told me I would never find women like this in real life, tall and really stylish.

DD: Tell us about you MA – what were your inspirations?
Charles Youssef: It’s about a stark graphic minimalism and plays with elements of sharp, glossy yellow enamel against grey soft suede like corduroy. The geometric shapes throughout the collection are inspired by children’s paper games like the ‘Fortune teller’

DD: What has life been like since graduating?
Charles Youssef: It’s been hectic and exciting working with really amazing stylists like Nicola Formichetti,, for Lady Gaga, Jane How for V Magazine and you Kim as well as working on special order pieces for Skin (Skunk Anansie) and working on my next collection.

DD: How would you describe your work generally?
Charles Youssef: My signature style is about having a strong shape designed for a powerful contemporary woman.

DD: Do you ever work in Colour?
Charles Youssef: Naturally I love colour overload but as my designs are so bold in shape I discovered colours have to remain very considered to maintain a balance. I take a lot of colour inspiration from old 60’s and 70’s adverts of household appliances like vacuum cleaners, toasters etc…….. Weird yellows, mint, antique orange mixed with pale blue, grey and parchment colours. I don’t like just using colour for the sake of it needs to be unusual and surprising.

DD: Are there any designers you would love to work for?
Charles Youssef: Yes I would love to work designers such as Riccardo Tisci, Alber Elbaz, Richard Nicoll and Stefano Pilati.

DD: What is next for Charles Youssef?
Charles Youssef: I’m working on a S/S11 editorial collection for LFW which I can’t really divulge just yet as well as producing special orders for clients.

All clothes by Charles Youssef
Photographer Thomas Cooksey
Stylist Kim Howells
Makeup Martina Luisetti using Bobbi Brown
Hair Yoshitaka Miyazaki using Bumble and Bumble
Photographer Assistant Gilbey
Stylist Assistant Reuben Esser
Makeup Assistant Valeria Aleman Alcocer
Model Nastasia at Next