Interview Trino Verkade, Sarabande Foundation founding trustee
McQueen’s trusted right hand, Verkade also held multiple senior positions at Alexander McQueen from 1994-2012, including managing director. She negotiated the Givenchy agreement and the Gucci Group acquisition, and oversaw and managed the major retrospective of Alexander McQueen’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
As well as leading the Foundation day to day, Verkade forges relationships with the best in the industry, from the likes of Daniel Roseberry to Sarah Burton OBE and Nick Knight OBE, to participate in its world-leading public talks and inspire the next generation of talent.
THE WICK: Talk us through a typical Monday.
Trino Verkade: There is nothing typical about Sarabande, we are always working on different projects. Right now, we have Bound at Dover Street Market, we have various long-term international projects, which we are working on, we are constantly creating content and filming, then we have our programme of weekly talks. It’s a small team who have to pivot on projects as and when they are due. And then you throw in the artists’ projects, which add another 180 spin.
TW: Lee Alexander McQueen established Sarabande to help young creative talent – tell us about this vision.
TV: Sarabande’s values stem from Lee’s respect and love of other artists and their vision and craft. He loved working with artisans and makers, but in London it’s really challenging to get the support and start you need, and he recognised this.
TW: Sarabande has helped further the careers of some of Britain’s most exciting talent. How do you spot those with great potential, and how do you support them?
We are careful not to focus on who we think is going to be the next big name, and rather stick to the values of Sarabande, which is to support those who have a unique vision, and a splattering of craft.
So that means supporting designers and artists who are doing something unique that perhaps can’t be scaled, and if they do not want to be a catwalk star there is still value in what they do and in working in a different way. We love the in-between designers that do not fit the fashion week mould. It’s great when an artist finds success in any form, but we want to celebrate and choose artists who will choose the path that’s perfect for them.
TW: Sarabande supports emerging creatives by connecting them with established figures. What is the value of these connections for Sarabande scholars and studio residents?
TV: I would like to think it goes both ways. Our Inspired series finds speakers who can share their stories with a younger audience in an environment that is intimate and in no way intimidating. Many of those successful creatives see themselves in the younger artists just starting out, and are happy to share the reality – highs and lows – of their journey.