After more than 20 years in the industry, Etienne Russo is the one of the premier producer of fashion shows. He has executed designers' visions for brands including Lanvin, Miu Miu, Céline, Hermès, Dries van Noten and Chanel. As he admits, “I’ve never had to knock on clients’ doors for a job, thank God!” Born in Belgium to Italian parents, the producer was first introduced to fashion when he modeled in a runway show a friend of his styled. He then went on to become an artistic director at Brussels nightclub Mirano, where he learned the art of showmanship and entertainment.
Russo’s career started when he met the yet-to-be established Antwerp Six. “We were sort of a small family kind of, we would get in the little truck, get to Florence putting the décor [up], the clothes, and selling, taking it down, going to Milan, going to Paris, and we were sort of dreaming that one day we could do a show, until the moment where Dries says 'well you know what, I am going to do my first show in Paris, do you want to do it?' And this is how I started.”
Although Russo works with fashion’s elite, he describes his process as a true collaboration, “Sometimes I come with a suggestion, sometimes it’s a ping pong match, there is no rules, we sit around a table and we pull ideas until we find the right one.” Russo is the creative mind that makes designers concepts a reality, his favourite briefing? When Dries van Noten said to him, “I want something simple, but I want a simplicity that hurts.”
Russo’s biggest responsibility is making sure that the designer’s message comes across as precisely and clearly as possible. “I need to make sure technique doesn’t overwhelm the aesthetics.” His advice, to brands and all alike, “Be true to yourself, because when you are true to yourself there is some kind of honesty that comes, and that is the correct thing to do.“