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Alex Joseph vs Hellen van Rees: it's a matter of colours and materials

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Alex Joseph vs Hellen van Rees: it's a matter of colours and materials

The names of the 20 emerging designers selected by Vogue Italia to pair up with the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 finalists have finally been announced. Each designer will reinterpret the work of their team-mate through a fashion creation inspired by the chef’s dish, in an unprecedented fusion of fine food and style.

Here is the interview with Benelux region finalists: chef Alex Joseph and fashion designer Hellen van Rees.

What inspires the aesthetics of your creations? What inspires the aesthetics of your creations?
I grew up in the countryside, so I’m inspired by nature in all aspects of life. At the moment I’m enjoying using spring colours like greens and whites, and fresh herbs to reflect the season.
 
The inspiration is a combination of continuing experimentations with textile, yarns and rubber, modern and contemporary art and sometimes nature or other influences.
 
How do colours and textures influence your creations? How do colours and textures influence your creations?
Colours are extremely important, as they’re one of the first things you notice about a dish. Whether it’s a shiny green apple or the iridescence of an oyster shell, it gets your taste buds twitching. If the tastes and textures can match the beauty of the plate, then it’s a double whammy.
 
They are perhaps the most important factors in my work as I start my design process from a textiles point of view, so starting with developing a colour palette and then working on surface development. This can be coatings or different fusions with textile and yarns, to create a variety of textures that contrast and thus complement each other.
 
How would you describe your creative style? How would you describe your creative style?
I aim for simplicity and respect for the ingredients I use, with beauty and minimal manipulation.
 
Contemporary, feminine, raw.
Is there any influence of your country's traditions, culture or materials in your creative work? Is there any influence of your country's traditions, culture or materials in your creative work?
Rabbit is a quintessentially Belgian ingredient, but I’ve steered it away from its roots of being prepared in Kriek cherry beer, and I’ve replaced it with a Sancerre reduction. As a Californian, I couldn’t resist a touch of American flair by adding some bacon and using a Searzall to crisp up the rabbit ballottine.
 
Not that I’m myself aware of.
What food would you happily die eating? What food would you happily die eating?
An “al pastor” (braised pork) burrito from El Coronel in Sebastopol, California.
 
If I happen to be in a cold place, a good steak with pepper sauce, if I’m somewhere warm a seafood salad.
 
The first top fashion designer that comes to mind? The first top chef that comes to your mind?
Tom Ford? I practically live in my chef whites.
 
My dad for making really good pea soup.
If your cuisine was something to wear, what would it be? If your creations were a dish, what would it be?
Messy.
 
My latest collection I would say a black forest cake.
What ingredient would you never eat, and why? What item of fashion would you never wear, and why?
I don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t try, but I don’t think I’d order brain again. Not because of the taste - I use it in my own dish - but it’s just the idea of eating brain that bugs me.
 
Anything fur, I’ve seen too many horrible things within in this industry.
What’s the first thing you’ll do upon arriving in Milan next June? What’s the first thing you’ll do upon arriving in Milan next June?
I’m going to have an authentic espresso in an Italian café and really try and enjoy the whole experience.
 
I’d like to start walking without a plan and see where I end up (probably on a terrace with a glass of wine...)
What do you expect from this challenge? What do you expect from this challenge?
To be inspired, cook for some great chefs and enjoy doing what I love. I expect an interesting new influence that’ll hopefully lead me in my working process to something unexpected.

Hellen van Rees' interview was conducted by Vogue.it

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