On days that I need to sketch my collections, I get up very early. I start at 6am with just a cup of coffee. This is usually during January, May, June and July, when I am busy preparing for the forthcoming collections. I used to stay up late and work, but in recent years, I've discovered I need a lot of light to be inspired. I've lived in Paris for the past three years, in Place des Victoires. I have a duplex I share with my longtime partner and I usually do the drawings in my study. I love Paris. Someone once told me the city is a 'glocal' culture, meaning it's global yet local. That's very true. When I first moved here from New York I thought I'd be homesick. I even got a place at the Place de la Bastille because I thought it would be very lively and filled with artists and musicians and just like New York, but I am much happier where I am now. My home is close to the Louvre and to me, that is my kind of Paris. People often ask me if there is a lot of pressure working for the House of Lanvin. There isn't. When I took the job the owner of Lanvin, Mrs Huang, told me to be myself. I know all about the pressure of working under the shadow of someone very powerful because before Lanvin, I worked under Yves Saint Laurent. I was personally chosen by him to be his successor before Tom Ford took over. It was a very difficult period of my life because I went crazy looking through the YSL archives. Everything that I did, I questioned myself: is it too YSL? Is it not YSL enough? It's an entirely different attitude, I wasn't designing, I was emulating. And at the end of the day I wasn't making it my own. I don't have any hard feelings about Tom Ford and I think the time when I wasn't working gave me the chance to put things in perspective. A lot of people have been very nice to me in the past and I wouldn't be where I am today otherwise. When I moved to New York from Israel in 1988, after finishing school in Tel Aviv, I had almost no money and no friends. But New York was good to me. I met a fashion editor who took a look at my sketches and introduced me to Geoffrey Beene. I walked into the interview and there he was, a formidable man. And after one chat he gave me a job. He taught me everything I know. He was a very nice man, extremely sincere and very hardworking. And more importantly, he allowed me to have the freedom to develop myself. He'd do a bunch of sketches and then hand them to me, and I'd finish them off using my own instincts. It wasn't whether you got it right or wrong - he let me experiment on my own. My family is originally from Israel but I was born in Casablanca. My mother was an artist but no one in the family pressured me into doing anything. I've always liked drawing and fashion so it was a natural choice for me. My partner works for Prada but he's more on the business side of things, so he understands what it's like to be in a creative industry. When I break for lunch during the work week I head to one of the many cafes and brasserie restaurants in Paris. I eat very simple lunches, even a croque monsieur will do. Then it's back to the atelier for more work. Although I work with assistants I am still extremely hands on. Many designers eventually become editors because their brands are so big and they have huge design teams. I want to remain very close to my designs. I hate the term 'creative director'. It's such a dangerous thing to call someone because you can't always direct others exactly the way you want. For me, I want to keep doing design myself. My assistants can see what I do and they can follow, but I never want to just direct people. I think a fashion designer needs to be 51 per cent art and 49 per cent business. You can't make clothes no one wants to buy. It's about being commercial after all. I know the woman I want to dress, but I don't have to be surrounded by muses like an artist. In fact, when a journalist buys a dress from me I am most flattered. I respect the design philosophy of Jeanne Lanvin (founder of Lanvin). She was a remarkable woman but when I took over in 2001, I just went through the archives once to get a feel for everything. I never looked at it again. With my work at Lanvin I am trying to create the feeling of 'desire' in fashion again. People should look at fashion and it should be something they desire and want. When I am in my thinking process I literally start with white pages. I am really hard on myself. Two minutes after the runway show is over I am already in working mode. I find the Asian female very inspiring. When I visited Shanghai I fell in love with all those grand old Shanghainese styles. All those women in cheongsams, you can say they looked very feminine but at the same time they are very powerful. There's a lot of strength in Asian women. When I am not working I prefer the simple life. I don't want to be at parties every night and I enjoy a good book or a good movie. Sometimes I cook, although I am not very good. I usually do simple things, such as pasta primavera. My life can sound very trivial, but it's not. Why try to become part of the sexy lifestyle that we sell? I see myself as the maitre d' of a hotel. I am in a very glamorous profession - just like a hotelier would see his rich guests - but I don't try to live their lives.