By Roisin Breen

AZ Factory is a collective lab for smart fashion that cares. It is a joint venture startup founded by Alber Elbaz and Richemont with a focus on beautiful design and solutions-driven fashion. The lab follows in the footsteps of it’s founder Elbaz and based its core values around the themes of love, trust, and respect. It’s a digital luxury house based on innovation, technology, and providing designer’s with space for experimentation and idea innovation.

The AZ Amigos initiative invites designers to create a collaborative product story for the lab. The latest designer to join the Amigos is Lutz Huelle. Named “F is for Friendship”, the collection is a riff on AZ Factory’s alphabet and an ode to the brand’s values and protagonists, ‘the Amigos’. Though he had met founder Elbaz only once and says he wishes he’d gotten to know him better, Lutz recognizes in their shared DNA a common wish to make people feel comfortable and at ease.

After completing his Degree in Fashion Design at Central St Martin’s College in London and a three-year stint as Designer working with Martin Margiela, Lutz launched his eponymous Label LUTZ HUELLE in Paris with partner David Ballu. A twice winner of the ANDAM Award, the biggest Fashion Prize in France, and the Pret-a-Porter Prize at GWAND in Lucerne, Switzerland, Lutz’ approach has been described as « Decontextualisation »: taking things out of context, reinventing ways to wear a classic wardrobe, working on structure, volume and identity. His way of mixing and matching different genres and types of garments – Sportswear and Evening, Casual and Formal, Feminine and Masculine turned out to be prophetic – it has since become an integral part of the fashion landscape.

Take a look back at our interview with the designer during the lockdown of 2020, by Alice Butterlin.

How has your daily life changed since lockdown began?

At first it was very hard to understand what I was going to fill my day with. I panicked on waking up in the morning, not knowing what to do. After a few days and allowing for everything to slow down, I started to do all of the things that there never seems to be any time for: putting things in order, cleaning up old stuff, filing, re-arranging. I started taking time to do things instead of just always rushing, a very strange but ultimately calming experience.

Have you had to rethink the way you create?

I didn’t necessarily re-think my way of creating, more re-evaluating what I’d done recently. Looking at work, ideas, wondering what still makes sense and what might be less relevant now. My work is so closely linked to being with people, being alone all the time was like looking at it from the outside looking in.

Did you realize anything in particular during this time?

Above all, I realized that the world doesn’t stop when everything slows down… I mean it did stop in a certain way but we still just went on living. I honestly started to wonder if this way of trying to do more and more all the time is really so sane. I’ve always loved the hustle and bustle of fashion, and I thrive on a certain kind of stress, but suddenly not having all that stress – it didn’t make me unhappy. It just calmed me down, which turned out to be a wonderful state of mind, once I accepted it.

Do you feel more inspired or paralyzed by the lockdown?

Honestly, it paralyzed me at first, but once there was noting to do my mind started drifting in a very easy and ultimately quite inspiring manner. I started to think in very basic terms… and because I was only dressing in t-shirts and sweatpants, I started to think about those. Hence the T-shirt Tutorials on Instagram. Doing something nice out of nothing just seemed like a good thing to do, and perfect for the moment.

Have you started or returned to any activities that you do not normally have time to do?

I have read more in the last 4 weeks than in the last six months, and I’ve also been watching quite an extraordinary amount of television. Ozark was amazing and Unorthodox left me a sobbing mess… now we’ve become hooked on Homeland again. It’s nice to watch 3 episodes at night and not feel guilty about having to get up early the next day.

What do you think you’ll take away from this shutdown?

If there’s one thing that has become very clear it’s that nothing is as important as family and friends and spending time with each other. It’s important to care, to have empathy towards others, to believe in the good of people. Everything else will just fall into place anyway. I have to also say how grateful I am to live in a country that cares for its people and that I can trust to do everything to keep us all safe. That is not a given everywhere else in the world.

Are you worried?

Obviously I am worried… about my family, my friends, the situation that we will all find ourselves in once this is over. I’m also worried about the state of the world – this crisis has made it incredibly clear in what toxic times we live in and have lived for quite a while. It’s up to us now to make it work, to learn and make the best out of this situation. I’m sure we will!

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