Jean-Claude Jitrois’ Artsy Madison Avenue Addition

by Tangie Silva

Jean-Claude Jitrois is the embodiment of globetrotter, but with a heavy lean toward the arts and an inclination for collaboration. At the opening of his new NYC flagship, we sat down with the charming French designer to talk about the eclectic new space and his creative process.

You have stores worldwide—what made you decide to open one in New York?
It’s never too late to do what’s perfect. I came to New York 20 years ago, and I was being trained in a small shop on Madison Avenue. Back then, I was dressing the mothers. Today, I happen to dress the daughters.

We can tell from the designs!
[Laughs] That’s why I’m still here! There’s a big difference between 20 years ago and nowadays. What’s wonderful about today is that we work in a completely collaborative way. It’s not even collaboration; it’s a connective creative direction. I love to interact with all types of talent, including artists, in order to reach a broader spectrum of talent and creation. That’s a lot more enjoyable.

What’s behind the design?
When I was born, artists used to work and live in sh*t holes with no light and no heating. It’s wonderful to see how times have changed and that we are able to work in the condition that we do when we design, with the lights and mirrors. The environment needs to be something special and somewhere inspiring. When I came [to New York] in the ’80s, I remember the dinners [at Studio 54] and the opening of the curtains and the beginning of the party where everybody would mix together. That’s something that [Steve Rubel] always got right. The mix of art and people gathered at the party was the most beautiful thing to see. The answer for why now and why here is that New York is my creative world. It’s a center of energy and will be like that for me for decades and decades.

Are you going to Art Basel Miami Beach? It seems like your realm.
Well, I’m just out of the FLEC [The International Fair of Contemporary Art] in Paris, which is like a pre-Art Basel. We had fashion week, fashion month, and now we have art month. We have a few collaborations on the way, so there’s a big chance that I make it down to Art Basel!

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