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Ten Minutes with Nigel Curtiss


Meet the menswear legend and brains behind Comme des Garçons Homme Plus

Well, sort of. He floated the idea to Rei. She told him to do it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Who is Nigel Curtiss?

“According to my American wife I’m a sexy rogue and occasionally a total twat! I think she’s wrong on both counts.”

What was your first job in fashion?

“My first job was selling fabrics to England’s best designers of the time. I worked with Paul Smith in the early days, and Vivienne Westwood. I gave fabrics to John Galliano for his finals at St Martins. It was a long list of great British talent. Then I moved to Japan to work with Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons.”

What’s so great about suits?

“That’s a loaded question. Not all suits are great. A great suit makes a man look and feel sexy. Emphasises his good points, makes his legs look longer, makes him look powerful, confident and self-assured. If your suit doesn’t do that, it’s not a great suit.”

What makes a good suit?

“The best fabric, and it generally comes from Britain or Italy. The perfect cut and a good fit. Mostly, it’s about balance. It’s all in the shoulder and the chest. If that doesn’t balance, it’s a bad suit.”

Are you a double-breasted or a single-breasted kind of man?

“I love double but what do I sell? For every 20 single-breasted suits I might sell one double-breasted suit. My clients are resisting the change, as they know it will be expensive. It’s going to happen.”

Do you ever wear your own clothes?

“Yes, except when I wear my wife’s.”

How important is it to match your shoes to your outfit?

“We all know the rules – shoes match the belt, match the suit. Silver watch, silver buckle, silver cuff links, etc. The rules work. Men feel comfortable knowing they didn’t make a mistake, that everything works. Got the confidence? Then break the rules. I encourage that wholeheartedly.”

What’s it like, in the words of Sting, to be an alien in New York?

“I love New York. I’ve been an alien before when I lived in Tokyo for 13 years. New York is energetic and positive. Everything is possible. It really helps having a British accent. I lay it on thick when I need to.”

What’s been done that you wish you’d done?

“The Tetra Pak. That simple piece of origami is worth billions.”

What’s the one thing that repulses you? That you could never bring yourself to design?

“Repulse is a harsh word. I don’t like square-toe shoes and vinyl belts, but my biggest beef is anything that is logo laden. Give me a break… Be confident in what you buy because it’s beautiful not because it shouts a brand name.”


by Natalie Dembinska