"Stromae is on vacation now," says Paul Van Haver, the Francophone dance-pop sensation whose gender-bending persona has been shaking up the international music landscape since 2008. Although Van Haver's firmly declared a break from the spotlight, the star has set his sights on a whole new endeavor; this month sees the launch of his new clothing store, MOSAERT.
Founded in 2014, MOSAERT is a Belgian creative label that houses Van Haver's original unisex clothing collection, made in conjunction with his partner, fashion designer Coralie Barbier. The couple decided to forgo band merch for a whole fashion line, based on the colorful designs he dons in music videos such as "Papaoutai" and "Tous Les Mêmes" and craftily titled using an anagram of his stage name. "It wasn't my plan to design for other people before I met Coralie," says Van Haver. "At first I only wanted to make outfits for myself, to wear in my videos. Then [fans] wanted to know where to find my clothes. ... So I thought, 'Why not start a fashion line?'"
Now available for purchase online, MOSAERT's latest offerings include grammar-school uniform cuts and velvet sweats, adorned with floral prints and M.C. Escher-esque tessellations inspired by African prints. "It's important for a man and a woman to wear the same polo," says Van Haver. "It's hard to create exactly the same pieces for men and women, young and old people," adds Barbier. "We have no target [demographic]. It's a challenge, but it's something different. We want everybody to be able to wear it."
Van Haver performed at last year's Coachella Festival, where his set was crashed by another musician-turned-fashion-boss: Kanye West. "It was a complete surprise," he said of West's appearance, which happened during Van Haver's performance of his global hit "Alors On Danse." After the set, the two discussed potential artistic collaborations.
"Being famous is a bit dangerous sometimes," he says. "Right now I am just focused on fashion and collaborating with other artists."
"We'd like to do shoes next," says Barbier.
Videos by Jamian Shapiro