Earlier this summer, Susie returned from the Disneyland of menswear tradeshows that is Pitti Uomo, armed with a pocketful of business cards, a mind crammed full of rail tales and a number of SS12 product shots. As she hopped, skipped and jumped her way through the vast space her ever eager eye was scanning each stand and taking note of the real gems. One of the shiniest was Monsieur Lacenaire. With the unveiling of its debut collection for AW11, the menswear magpie in me had found its latest obsession.
Monsieur Lacenaire takes its name from the French poet and murderer, Pierre-François Lacenaire. Baudelaire called Lacenaire "one of the heroes of modern life" and the label's founder and designer, Garance Broca, expresses the refinement and anti conformist spirit of this Dandy villain with an assortment of reimagined classics. Broca is above all else passionate about knitwear. After earning her stripes at luxurious houses including Balmain and Hermès, she decided to bring new elegance and folly to men’s fashion today. With an accent on luxurious materials, Broca revisits the classic male wardrobe and plays with age-old knit techniques (cable stitching, jacquard) throughout. Now, I would have happily unpicked the seams of any piece from the accomplished debut collection but the Teddy Jacket is the real star. Below, we take a closer look at the jacket and talk to the designer herself to see just how the knitwear talent put her stamp on this staple of American sportswear...
SS: How did you go about stamping your take on this staple of American sportswear?
Garance Broca: Making this piece in a soft and shiny Superfine Alpaca fabric has made it more sophisticated with a fine touch of tradition, also with the wooden buttons. It has the look of American sportwear but it is more like a little jacket or a cardigan. The fit is less chunky and less rigid.
SS: Could you talk us through some of the technical processes and people involved in making the jacket?
Garance Broca: I’ve tried a number of different knit techniques to have some of the traditional fitting. I wanted a slim fit but with chunkier sleeves. Also, to add a hint of classic knitwear, I added a cable in the back.
SS: Did you encounter any problems? How were they resolved?
Garance Broca: For the body part, I wanted a more elaborate stitch but it would have made the style too thick. Also, the contrast with the sleeves was not troublesome so in the end I decided that the simpleness of a reverse jersey would be both nice and light whilst the contrast with the full needle sleeves could be more relevant.
SS: Like all good menswear, the jacket oozes details. What are you favourites?
Garance Broca: I think my favorite is the cable in the back. This jacket is already strong as it is but the addition of the cable knit is the last detail that really makes a statement and declares 'I am knitted'!"
SS: How would you describe the finished piece in your own words?
Garance Broca: This is a piece where you can fell both different and safe. The look is totally trendy but the details of the wood buttons or cable at the back make it really special and unique, and ultimately make it Monsieur Lacenaire!
"I love this jacket because it represent what is the new menswear : both casual and chic. It’s completely casual because it refers to college boy and sport; but in the meantime, it has become a classic item and it represent a high level class in America, so it can be seen as chic."
Garance Broca on her love for the Teddy Jacket
Look book shots courtesy of Monsieur Lacenaire
'Classics with a twist' is one of those throwaway phrases (by designers and journalists alike) that is so over used that I'm loathed to ever use it on the pages of this blog. However, Monsieur Lacenaire's debut offering is one of those odd occasions where nothing else will do. As Broco reimagines wardrobe staples like the classic Varsity, there is a display of welcome playfulness and a covetable depth of detail.
Now, we were not the only one to fall for the knitted charms of its debut with Selectism being one of the first blogs (way back in April) to shine the spotlight on the label and key retail locations snapping up the label. Mr Porter and Colette have both swooped and picked up key pieces for the winter season, including the Teddy Jacket.