Alexander Werz is a constant presence during fashion weeks; tall, poised, and always impeccably attired, he is impossible to miss. But to spot him at so many shows and events also reflects the scope of his position at one of the industry’s powerhouse PR agencies. As CEO and partner of Karla Otto since 2019, he has ensured a smooth transition as founder Otto, who Werz considers his ongoing mentor, has stepped back from daily operations. Born in Stuttgart, Werz moved to Paris when he was 19 and has made a weekly commute to Milan for several years. “Always hungry for the new,” he satisfies this appetite not just with fashion but with beauty, art, and the culture at large.
In what ways do you see exploration as a natural part of the design process?
Exploration is linked to talent and talent needs to move forward. Without talent to explore new ways – new materials, new silhouettes, for instance – we would be unsatisfied. Exploring new things is a really normal way to push your boundaries, to push your own creativities. Designers, but also artists, and even the rest of us, we’re all in a creative process.
What are some of the themes and ideas that you would like to see designers exploring through the next few seasons?
What I would love to see is even more creativity on the runway. I want to be really overwhelmed by creativity. I want to have emotion during fashion shows. This is what I’m missing very much. Obviously, we have phones in our hands and it’s important that people are recording videos, but I remember back when people would clap for 5, 10, 20 minutes because a show was so mesmerizing.
How have these past years shaped the way you explore fashion through social media and the virtual world?
Virtual and digital remain key elements in today’s discovery process. Will virtual [experiences] give you an emotional response? I do not think so. Will you remember a show more when you have had the real experience? Yes. The virtual attention span is much shorter, but you can look into things much deeper. I think we’re learning a lot – and we’re also learning what we don’t want. If we think about the metaverse, Blade Runner was done 40 years ago, and now it’s here. Do I love the future today, absolutely. But I’m still interested in having my own clothes, my own artworks – and to live in a time when we still have so much that’s real.
How do you, personally, explore what’s new and exciting in fashion?
First of all, if something is unknown to me, I try to do research. Digital gives me the first [entry point]. Culture gives everything around what we could be interested in. Art can also be a source of research and so exploration comes from what I see in the galleries. This is a business of meeting new people and I like to meet people, new talents, new designers. I’m a very curious person and curiosity is always a driver – in fashion but also in all aspects of life.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.