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28.07.2022 Paris #fashion

Hanan Besovic

I Deserve Couture

“I am not a couture client, nor a typical influencer, I am an online fashion devotee that loves to read opinions”.

You may not know his name or how he looks like in real life. But if you are into fashion and infuse your life with humor, you probably follow his page, “I Deserve Couture”, where he talks fashion with passion, wit and honesty. The man behind the Instagram page of the moment, Hanan Besovic is a new powerful voice in fashion, an online fashion geek, who is not afraid to criticize the system and talk frankly about its problems, but always with a smile. We met Hanan in Paris during Couture Fashion week, where we had a beautiful walk in La Bourse district, discovering together the most unexpected and magical spots. Here, Hanan breaks down his story, presents his vision of the industry where fashion is for everyone and there are no gatekeepers, and gives out his best summer reads.  

Why did you decide to launch your page in the middle of pandemic?

I settled down in the US to work in hospitality in 2016, and when the pandemic started I got furloughed and didn’t know what to do. I could not go to work or leave my apartment. What is the only thing I kind of care about? Fashion. I started talking about it on my personal account, which was a mistake, because the people were not there necessarily for fashion, or not all of them at least. So I opened “I Deserve Couture”, and started making jokes about fashion or ranting because something was not right in the industry. I spend most of my time doing research, reading and watching shows. When you have a 9-5 job, watching a 30 minute show is a luxury. If you have kids, you can’t just sit down, relax and watch a fashion show either. When you have the time for it, it interests you, this is the only way to get something out of it.   

Tell us more about your story. How did you become interested in fashion?

Because of Alexander McQueen: “Plato’s Atlantis” was the first show that I ever saw from the beginning to the end. I watched it because of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” that was premiering at the end of the show. I was like this is weird, this is ridiculous, I don’t know what I am watching but I like it. From there I started researching McQueen as a designer, and then I saw the “Horn of Plenty”, which is to this day my favorite show of all times. And after I started learning about other designers like Alber Elbaz, Olivier Rousteing or Marc Jacobs – those were the first ones that I was looking at. 

Why did you choose a nickname?

This was the age of Diet Prada, and one of my favorite accounts at that time was called “Fat Anna Wintour”. There were always these good and catchy Instagram names, and I said to myself, I have to have something that levels up to that. I had a couple of suggestions and read them out to my friend from Elementary school, and when I said “I Deserve Couture”, she said “Stop! That’s it! I don’t want to hear anything else. It’s short, it’s catchy, it’s fun. It will work”. And that’s how we got it!

And now when you are at couture shows it makes total sense. 

Exactly!

Everybody says that TikTok is the future and it’s too late to be an Instagram star. How would you explain your instant success and Beka’s (@stylenotcom, ed.note)?

What unites us is that we got the attention of the fashion industry. As much as one might think we had the same start, our pages are completely different. His page is extremely factual, mine is more opinionated. I like to go deep and talk about the references. He has a formula that works amazingly for him: he packages the news in his way and reports on it. And I met him, he is a very nice guy! What we did at the start was all about fashion news, so that people could find it on one platform, without going to Vogue or WWD. I did a parody on a news anchor, reporting the news in different clothes every month. Beka took it a different way, he is pushing facts from the shows, which is really entertaining to read. And to be honest, he is doing a great job. We were catapulted to the center of fashion, and I hope that now we are making the most of it.

And both of you made Instagram great again!

True (smiles). When it comes to fashion, TikTok is equally important, but it has another mission. That’s why for me this transition into TikTok is more difficult because I am so used to Instagram. I am an online, virtual fashion devotee. I am not a couture client or a typical influencer. I am not selling my looks, what I am selling is my personality, my insight. And I am still an Internet junkie, a fashion geek that loves to read opinions. I want to hear what people think about collections. I don’t want to just show the clothes. And for me it’s a formula that works.

 

In the world that is becoming more and more digital, is it still important to go to the IRL fashion shows?

When pandemic started and everything went digital, I was the first to say that this is not going to last. Why? Because fashion is superficial. Fashion needs to have a proof of its own existence – and that’s about those live shows. Fashion people need to see each other, to socialize. It’s really like an event, like going to a concert. You get the energy that you don’t get from the show itself on the screen. But I don’t mind both. I grew up with digital shows, watching stuff on my iPad, that’s how I started loving fashion. To be honest, there are a couple of brands that should stick to digital format. Mugler is the first one that comes to my mind. For them digital works because it translates this energy that you can’t translate via a runway show (or it needs to be highly detailed). Another one which was very good, when it comes to digital Virgil’s Louis Vuitton. There was a lot more to the show than just the clothes. When the Covid started, Valentino did a couture show – it was like 20 feet-long dresses. That was brilliant, but that is the way of thinking outside of the box and using the best side of the situation you have.  

Celine was great in digital, as well. I loved the energy.

My biggest criticism of Celine is that I could not see the clothes – the locations Hedi Slimane that picked – Vaux-Le-Vicomte castle, or Promenade des Anglais in Nice – are splendid. But the editing for me was too busy and too fast, I need a Xanax after this. I know that Hedi is trying to sell you a lifestyle, which includes a lot of movement, and a lot of energy. But for me, when I watch the show, I am there to see the clothes – that is my primary focus. I was extremely happy that Celine came back to live shows, because the biggest criticism that I had just got taken down. I attended the show, I could see the clothes, and I really enjoyed it.

You say things quite openly about collections that you do not like, which is a rare thing today, when everybody is praising the brands, fearing to lose their tickets to the show.

I am critical, and that is what fashion fears the most. I don’t understand why. I understand that every company fears bad publicity and controversy. This is a 100% legit fear. But you should not be reprimanded for having an opinion on clothes or a designer. Some brands reached out to me, because they thought that I wanted to cancel somebody. This is the biggest misconception about my page. I am there to talk about fashion and be transparent about fashion. Literally, there were some PRs at a party, smiling and saying: “Don’t cancel us”. They said it through a joke, but in every joke there is 50% of the truth. It’s ridiculous!

Do you think there is a future for journalists who don’t tell things? 

Yes. I have all the respect in the world for all the fashion journalists. But I don’t expect them to talk about this, because they are not in the position to talk about the stuff us, the kids on the Internet can talk about. This is their job, at the end of the day. And you will be literally biting the hand that feeds you. I am not expecting Cathy Horyn or Suzy Menkes to be critical. I am not expecting people to lose their jobs just to say that Dior had a bad collection. If you want to rant about a brand, go to Twitter. Those kids do not have anything to lose and you are going to see what people think about your brand. As for me, I have lived without fashion shows for thirty years now. If I lose a seat at a Chanel show, I am fine, I never had it. I have the liberty of talking about brands. 

 

London, New York, Milan, Paris. What is the most important fashion capital?

All of them bring something to the table. Now it’s popular to bash London Fashion Week. It looks like a trend (smiles). Is it true? Do these people have valid reasons? Yes, they do, because the British Fashion Council (BFC) should shift focus more on their talent. I talked to designers from London, they do not feel supported, and that’s why they choose to leave and show somewhere else. This is so sad! This should be the main concern of the BFC or any fashion council, and it’s possible to fix it. I do think that London has this raw talent. It is the birthplace for many ideas, and it gave us so many good designers. When I look for New York, I look for diversity and inclusivity. I go to Milan, to see freshness, coolness and Italian approach to fashion. Paris has its own romantic, crazy, theatrical approach to fashion. Every capital brings its own energy, and all of them are equally important.

You have an amazing collection of rings. What is the story behind it?

When I was younger my mother did not allow me to wear rings, she thought it’s gay. And then, when I moved away to the US, an ocean away from her – don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, – it became like a sign of a protest. I was feeling like the person that I wanted to be. I like the way that the rings look and the way they sound. So when I moved here, I thought: “How many fingers do I have? Ok, let’s put a ring on each one of them!”. I like big chunky rings, I like to pile them up, they don’t have to be expensive, I don’t care. You know, who else has an amazing collection or rings? My all-time fashion icon Daphne Guinness! She has these crazy, over-the-top rings.

 

When I talk to my friends in fashion who know you, the first word that comes to mind is « nice ». Why is it important for you to be nice in this business? And what do you think about your collègues that have a different reputation?

People that are not nice are the loudest. And fashion has such a bad reputation, kindness seems to be a missing factor. All of us love fashion, but snobbiness, bitchiness, elitism triggers me. In 2022 there shouldn’t be any room for it. I like to know that people think that I am nice, because at the end of the day that’s me, and I want to go to heaven. I met a lot of nice people, but also jerks, from big names to models. When you are riding high, everybody is going to come and be your friend. When stuff is not that good, people are going to say: “Well, I never liked him”. But that’s fashion. Because this industry is built on ego, as a core value, and nepotism. We worship an “apple-polish” industry. I told a designer, recently appointed to a fashion house: “Listen, not everybody is going to like your clothes, and that’s fine. As long as your boss likes what you do, you are doing a good job. You don’t have anybody else to impress”. Fashion loves to portray this perfect picture, but there are problems, and nobody is talking about that. That’s what irritates me, and that’s what I feel I have to talk about.

When Notre-Dame was on fire, luxury groups within one day found money to restore it. When the war in Ukraine broke out, fashion brands took a stand. Now, when Roe v. Wade has been overthrown in the US, fashion companies are the first to react again. How do you feel about brands becoming so political, I would even say the new UN?

I like that. Personally, I want to know who I am supporting. Fashion is about clothes, but it’s also about everything else, every decision that they make. They are not having an easy job, because it’s a lot more difficult to maneuver your fashion brand in 2022, considering the social media and the environment that we live in. You are going to talk about everything! And I like the fact that they are becoming political. I think that they should take a stand on all of the issues that you mentioned. So, bring it on! There is nothing wrong with supporting Ukraine, supporting peace and supporting women. You just have to make it public, the same way as the other companies are doing.

I feel like big international companies that are making money today do not always openly say what they do for charity. It’s less visible, whereas fashion guys always want to make it super visible and put it on Instagram.

Of course. It’s like giving a medal to a general. They want people to know. Again, it’s a business of ego. They think of charity as a marketing tool: they want to make sure that you know that it’s there. It’s like a competition, and it’s stupid. That just shows how shallow the fashion industry is. They are competing with each other to donate more money to Notre-Dame. Are you serious about this? If you want to donate money, just donate money. Don’t make it your mission to outbid the other person.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting over on Instagram and wants to become a part of the fashion system?

Do it! I am quoting Nike now (smiles). It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of stress, but it pays off. As much as I criticize fashion, I love fashion. And fashion needs new faces, new opinions, new views on fashion. To be honest, this is not an easy job. And it’s not going to get a lot easier once you get more followers. There are people that I talked negatively about on Instagram, because they did something wrong. And then I meet them in person, it’s a weird situation, but I do not regret anything that I said because it comes from my heart that loves and supports fashion. We are talking about fashion doors being closed all the time. It’s time to open it! If you don’t have a seat at the table yet, make your own seat at the table. Our fashion table has to get extended. These gatekeepers of fashion, Jesus Christ, what are you gatekeeping?

Any book recommendations for summer holidays?

“Gods and Kings” by Dana Thomas, that is like a given to anybody, about the rise and fall of McQueen and Galliano. “Fashion Conspiracy” by Nicholas Coleridge is a brilliant book, it breaks down a lot of insights about fashion. It’s one of the best books I have read along with “The Empire of Fashion” by Gilles Lipovetsky, whom I was cursing out left and right: there were words that I did not understand because I am not American, and I had to translate them. What I am reading right now is “The Beautiful Fall” by Alicia Drake. Karl Lagerfeld censored a part of it in the French version, but I am curious to find out what happened. This book gives you a lot of insight and information, it’s a little bit like watching “Desperate Housewives” of fashion. And I want to know what Karl did at Patou, Chloé and Fendi, what he did in general before becoming the Chanel’s face. So I took a break from that one to read “Chic Savages” by John Fairchild. I have not yet read “Kaiser Karl” by Raphaëlle Bacqué, and I am looking forward to reading “Anna” by Amy Odell (a novel about the legendary Anna Wintour, ed. note). As far as the books go, just give me a pile of fashion books, and I’ll be fine.

 

Interview: Lidia Ageeva

Photos: Marilù Parisi

 

The editorial team and Hanan Besovic thank the Athanase gallery and invite you to visit it at 6 rue Vivienne.

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