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Gabrielecorto Moltedo photographed in his shop at 146-148 Galerie de Valois, Jardins du Palais Royal, Paris.
Gabrielecorto Moltedo photographed in his shop at  
146-148 Galerie de Valois, Jardins du Palais Royal, Paris.

'I was never really in to conventional fashion'

Gabrielecorto Moltedo, the designer and founder of the bag company Corto Moltedo, talks about his childhood fashion passions.

Gabrielecorto Moltedo, the designer and founder of the bag company Corto Moltedo, talks about his childhood fashion passions.I grew up in New York, and I have the fondest memories of going to the Ralph Lauren mansion to buy clothes when I was about 10 or 11. That's what we all wore. It was really strong back then for kids - it still is, of course - and the colours were great on the polo shirts; they really popped out.

My father (Vittorio Moltedo, who co-founded Bottega Veneta with his wife, Laura) used to take me there, and we'd pick out clothes. I don't really remember my mother buying me clothes; I'd always go with my father. I guess you could say he had a pretty big influence on me. My moustache comes and goes, but I think perhaps I grew it because my father has one. A little later on, I was really into skateboarding style; that was the scene back then, and I was obsessed. I used to buy skateboarding magazines and mail order T-shirts from the back. There were so many adverts. You could choose T-shirts from labels like Vision Streetwear or Santa Cruz and pay by credit card over the phone or with cash at the door when the T-shirts were delivered. I'd buy skateboards from the magazine ads, too.

At prep school, you had to wear a tie, but I had no problem with wearing one - I like ties. I wear them a lot now. They had a uniform, but it was pretty liberal, with a few rules. There were ways around the uniform, like wearing a tie over your polo shirt. I was never really influenced by TV or films. You don't really have that attitude in New York, growing up. It's a much speedier life - why would you copy something that's already out there? But we did have obsessions. At that age it was stickers like the Garbage Pail Kids. We'd collect them in Trapper Keepers, which were these big fat binders in funky colours. They were the best.

So I wasn't really into conventional fashion - in New York it was about more of an urban culture than anything. And when I was getting into it, it was more about hip-hop than punk. We were really into those baggy jeans. It was about how low-rise and baggy you could wear them.I never really rebelled as such, or not knowingly, but I did dye my hair platinum blond when I was in college. My mum opened the door when she came to visit and then closed it again and told me not to come home until it was back to normal. It was long back then, and I'd do something different with it every day. I'd go out and no one would recognise me with my new hairstyle.

I was very lucky to be able to travel as a kid, but I didn't really pick up styles from around the world. I guess I was kind of sticking with my style - although my dad would come back from trips abroad and bring me back some amazing stuff from people like Gaultier. They were clothes I really couldn't wear, like some crazy bright blue padded Gaultier jacket, but I'd try to wear them anyway and that probably opened me up to wearing more interesting clothes.

It was the pre-raving culture, but I was a clubbing kid. I'd hang out with the Irish kids from Rockaway in Queens and they were into lower-key places, so I'd show them my world and they'd take me to their hangouts. Now I wear quite a lot of my dad's hand-me-downs. I'm a lot taller than him, though, and the shoes don't fit, but I've got tons of ties from him, and now I'm getting some of his jackets, too. I took some old shirts, but it didn't work too well. I borrowed his black tie for ages but he took it back. But a black tie is an investment. You never need to buy another.

I like to shop. I do personal orders from my friends' places. We all support each other as designers, like my boys Adam Kimmel and Alexis Mabille. I also steal my publicist John's clothes. I'm going though a phase where I'm looking through my wardrobe and wearing everything I own but I've never worn. I just opened my first store in the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris, and money is just disappearing, so I can't be buying new clothes right now.

Corto Moltedo is stocked at Etoile in Dubai (Mall of the Emirates, 04 341 4166).

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