Michel Gaubert

Michel Gaubert survived some of the wildest sex-, drug-, and disco-fueled nights that Paris had to offer during the heady, hedonistic days of the ’70s and ’80s. But perhaps more impressively, he has survived two decades of running the fashion pack’s twice yearly four-city sprint of style capitals, overseeing the music direction of runway shows in New York, London, Paris, and Milan. Interestingly, Gaubert is neither a musician nor a songwriter, but his ineluctable combination of chutzpah, charisma, and unerringly cool taste has made him one of the fashion world’s leading sound designers, with a client list that includes Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Fendi, Jil Sander, Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and Chanel. Armed with a laptop and way too many iPods, the 53-year-old native Parisian defies conventions with an almost childlike creative spirit. He’s even brought an orchestra to runways as part of his innovative approach to sound design in recent years. “As a sound designer, I’m more into looking into music as it creates a mood or underlines an image, rather than to make people dance,” he tells me before a Gucci show in Milan. “Music gives a hint of what the collection is about—it takes people somewhere else.” Having long ago given up drugs and alcohol, Gaubert’s vices are now restricted to cigarettes and Diet Coke. Nevertheless, his primary addiction—music—is ongoing, and continues to feed his professional life, with a collection of more than 60,000 CDs, 20,000 vinyl records, and more than 340,000 songs stored on a MacBook Pro and RAID drives. But when he’s on the job, it’s all about serving the needs of the designer. “I love fashion as much as I love music,” Gaubert says. “It tells a story. Sometimes I play music I don’t even like if I think it fits the scene.”