Paris by Night with NASASEASONS25 January 2019
END. sits down with NASASEASONS founder and designer Millinsky to talk Rihanna, influencer culture, and why sliding into DMs is the key to millennial success
When I asked Alexandre Daillance to show me a night in Paris, I had a fair idea of what I should expect. An ocean of perspiring bodies packed together in a gritty underground club, hidden beneath the sordid glow of a neon-lit back-street. Faces sporadically illuminated by pulsing strobes, only to be masked once more in a mirage of illicit smoke. A sprawling queue of ruined sneakers and stilettos waiting to reclassify their buzz behind the closed door of a single toilet cubicle. An inevitable hangover. Instead, I get a text to meet him at The Ritz at midnight.
In hindsight, an intense night of bass and hedonism probably wouldn't have best lent itself to an interview. I had anticipated a typical 20-something's idea of Paris by night, but Alexandre (or Millinsky as he prefers to be known at work) is no typical 20-something. Launching his brand NASASEASONS while still at school, Millinsky has - as a teen - navigated the esoteric structures of the fashion press, production, and distribution channels with a savvy that many who work their entire careers at the fringes of the industry aspire to. From concept to creation, Millinsky has transformed NASASEASONS from an idea amongst high-school friends to the go-to access brand of Instagram it-kids and pop-culture icons. Landing endorsements from Rihanna to Beyoncé, Luka Sabbat to Keith Ape, Millinsky is the living embodiment of what can be achieved if you're not afraid to slide into the Instagram DMs of your heroes.
The Ritz Paris is opulence incarnate, with every facet of the building dripping with an elegance that's just not matched by modern standards. Humoured by the traditionalism of the setting, I make my way to the downstairs bar to meet Millinsky and his friend, Marin. Tucked in a back corner, the duo has made themselves at home with laptops and notepads interspersed with bar snacks, martinis, and whiskey sours; a makeshift office of red velvet and gold. Noting the setting as we shake hands and sit, I find out that Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway used to drink in this bar when they would come to Paris to party during American prohibition.
Settling in, we order some more drinks and Millinsky explains that he's just flown in from the US where he majors in history at a college just outside New York. "I'm based near New York, but I was in LA working the past few days. Air France has lost my luggage with the new collection samples inside," He says, totally unphased. "It'll show up, I'm sure."
END.: First off, what are the origins of the Millinsky moniker?
Millinsky: It doesn’t really have an origin, to be honest. It was really about wanting there to be a dissociation between me in my work and me in my real life. It’s a persona more than anything. I’m still at university and while I’m there I like to just be a normal student, but when I go to New York or LA for work it helps to be able to put on this other persona. It lets me be really serious when it comes to my brand, without having it define my youth completely.
END.: Did you know growing up that you wanted to work in this industry and establish a brand?
Millinsky: No, not at all. I was one of those kids who have no idea what they want to do. I was always interested in the idea of defining an aesthetic and staying true to an idea and spent loads of time researching ideas and collecting images on Tumblr growing up. I think from being obsessed with early streetwear and especially early Virgil projects, it helped me take note of how to see a concept through from beginning to end and from there I started to build up a body of my own ideas. Everything has sort of fallen together quite naturally.
END.: What's your earliest memory of fashion?
Millinsky: I remember going to Colette with my friends as a teenager and really seeing fashion as something relevant to me for the first time. I think Colette was the starting point for so many young Parisian's experience with fashion because it was more than just a store: it was a cool place to hang out and absorb culture and ideas. It's weird now that it's gone. It's almost like losing a friend. But they've left such a strong legacy behind, and have opened up space for the new Parisian youth to do something different and define their own era.
NASASEASONS is seen as a very French brand, but the themes and ideas behind it are primarily lifted from American culture.
END.: NASASEASONS started out as a party collective, tell us a bit about those early days and how they translated to what's happening with the brand now...
Millinsky: The early concept really influenced by this idea in American high-school culture that to be popular you need to throw these crazy 'Project X' parties. NASASEASONS is seen as a very French brand, but the themes and ideas behind it are primarily lifted from American culture. I had a friend whose dad owned a few Nike franchise stores and he let us throw parties in the basement where the stock was kept. In Paris, you either have nightclubs which all feel the same, or house parties which are too quiet and too small. We wanted to do something in the middle which was a nightclub vibe but in a more intimate setting. It started with like 100 people and grew to our biggest party on graduation day which ended up being for more than 2,500 people. It got huge. The slogans on the hats are all inspired by the energy and the relationships I witnessed between people at those parties. I’m really interested in our generation and how much our culture has been shaped by social media. I think we’ve become super narcissistic but in a fun way. We all love to say what we think and tell everyone how we feel. All of the phrases are relatable because they’re real things I’ve heard people say at parties or in bars. And if one person says it, then there will be thousands of others out there who are thinking it. It’s meant to be a sort of self-aware, ironic commentary on internet kid culture.
END.: How do you think Instagram and Snapchat have changed partying?
Millinsky: I sort of grew up on Instagram, so it’s hard for me to really say how it’s changed things. But I definitely feel like people take way too many pictures now. I made the ‘No Pictures’ hat because I remember so often at parties just feeling like ‘fuck off with your iPhone in my face’. It’s exhausting. Everyone wants to document their night instead of experiencing it first hand and being in the moment. People are living through a lens; everything is about image with Instagram. I’m guilty of it, too. But as I get older I’m trying to be mindful of it and enjoy experiences in the moment.
END.: Why do you think the new generation is doing drugs less than their parents?
Millinsky: Drugs don't really feel like a big deal in the way they did in the 80s and 90s, I think. It's not rebellion to do the same things your parents did. Not doing drugs is this generation's rebellion.
I made the ‘No Pictures’ hat because I remember so often at parties just feeling like ‘fuck off with your iPhone in my face’.
END.: What are your thoughts on 'influencer’ culture and do you think it has an expiration date?
Millinsky: It’s a good question. From a marketing perspective, I think the phrase itself is sort of lame. It’s just a tag that was made up by a group of 40-something marketing execs to be able to put a name to these young people with big followings and be able to explain to stakeholders how they can turn these people’s audiences into cash. Real influencers are just cool kids who feel authentic. Most people I know who might be considered an influencer wouldn’t want to be defined that way. Luka Sabbat, for instance, would consider himself a model or a stylist. Most people with genuine influence usually have a skill or a creative practice. A reason why they have an audience. I think we should define people by that rather than just ascribing this tag of ‘influencer’ to them because you’re too lazy to look at what they’re doing in a more critical way. Look at someone like Blondey McCoy. Does he have influence? Sure. But he’s not an ‘influencer’. He’s someone who’s relevant to a subculture and has talent and contributes ideas. That’s the kind of people I like to work with for NASASEASONS.
END.: What do you think about the lines blurring between streetwear and traditional luxury?
Millinsky: I think Paris especially is super conservative and you’re trying to compete with centuries of high-fashion history. It’s like an old-continent state of mind and that's why it maybe doesn't have the same reputation for streetwear as New York or London. I think it’s fine for there to be a bit of a divide between the two, because if everything becomes the same then we run the risk of losing what luxury truly means. I think streetwear is all about pulling authenticity from culture whereas luxury brands are all about pulling authenticity from craft and technique. That’s the main difference between brands like Off-White versus Hermes, for instance. Off-white is taking this streetwear version of authenticity and making it luxury and it feels natural. I think that’s why some brands like Valentino or Chanel who are trying to force themselves into streetwear don't always feel as relevant, because it doesn’t fit with their history or the cultural space they're coming from.
END.: What do you think is the future of youth culture?
Millinsky: Well, they're all going to get old at some point.
As we finish up and make our way back out into the night, I ask Millinsky what he plans to do with the rest of his time at home in Paris. He says he's up early for a meeting with a prominent Italian label to discuss a potential cashmere capsule. "I can't say the name of the house right now, but I'm really excited to explore the NASASEASONS concept in luxury fabrics and cuts," he says.
Since our night at The Ritz, Millinsky has ramped up the NASASEASONS output to include full cut-and-sew collections; redesigned the iconic Rolling Stones logo for their latest tour; and collaborated with LVMH-owned luggage brand Rimwoa. Caught in a constant storm of new projects and ideas, Millinsky is a striking example of taking the possibilities of a world online and using them to set yourself apart and become the architect of your own potential.
Wandering the streets of Paris by night after we say our goodbyes, I'm struck by the dot-com-poeticism of the NASASEASONS story. It's fitting that a brand built upon capturing the essence of youth culture - its vernacular and #like4like digital libido - struck gold and found success in the most millennial location of them all: the hallowed Instagram DM. Perhaps NASASEASONS is the new blueprint for milennial success.