Friday, 10 August 2012

A visit to... A. Sauvage

Cast your minds back to the busy month of May 2010, what were you doing? Well, I was zigzagging my way across the capital for various press days and viewings to help see what AW10 would bring and encountered A. Sauvage. For those of you with short memories, the label is the brainchild of Adrien Victor Sauvage who, whilst working as a creative, realised that the stylish demands of his clients were not being met so set about meeting them with his own designs. The debut collection entitled 000-1 -000-11 showcased both radical and elegant menswear, each garment had traditional details and progressive cuts based in cashmere, flannel, mohair, micro cord and worsted wool that utilised a modern palette. Since I first made his acquaintance, I've kept an interested eye on the development of the brand and it has slowly evolved. 

Two years on since its inception, the label has amassed a cult following thanks largely to Sauvage's 'Natives and Captains' series of photography, recently opened its own store on Maddox Street, developed an ever growing offering and collaborated with Dr. Martens. Not bad at all for an emerging label. As A. Sauvage's route could be considered as being atypical, we caught up with the designer at his Mayfair retail base to hear all about its path and to see the first drops of AW12.

"The last couple of years have been a roller coaster. A. Sauvage started from an idea borne out of talking to a few people when I was working in the industry, I made a collection and showed it to the buyers of Harrods and it was snapped up straight off of the rail. Then the realisation came that I had to produce it but I didn't have a factory and at that stage nobody really knew who I was. it was a real learning process. It was then that I started playing around with photography. I went on a trip to LA playing basketball in Venice beach and I met so many interesting people and asked them to model the collection. Shooting that and returning to London, it received a lot of attention and helped establish the lifestyle angle of the label. It was a different approach because we were more interested in dressing people that wouldn't ordinarily wear suits. It was all about showing men different lapel and cloth option and various separates. It then began to evolve in to the next stage of D.E. because I wanted to add a more casual element and offer a fuller collection. I went back to Ghana to visit my parents who had moved back there and I thought it would be interesting to weave something out of the traditional fabric in to a more western feel. Then again, instead of using models, I wanted to shoot friends, family and people off of the street in the designs. It was a really interesting trip for me because I hadn't been back for eleven years and it had changed so much. The reaction to that collection has been great, we've built a cult following really. The brand has been really personal to me, I've been releasing little bits of the tale gradually."

Before I take you all on a tour of the store and offer a close look at AW12, I think it apt to remind you of a few highlights from Sauvage's series of photographs.  In each case, the designer invited subjects to wear garments from his collections and encouraged them to express who they are whilst wearing each piece with no directorial interference. The result is an exploration of individualism...

A selection of Captains and Natives donning A.Sauvage. All images by Adrien Sauvage.

"I designed the Autumn/Winter 12 range, took some time off and went to New York and it was there that I got the idea of shooting some rappers in the collection. Whilst over there looking for rappers, I got a phone call to say that Mos Def was in the store. It was crazy. He had a couple of made to measure suits made up, one of which was for Nelson Mandela's ninety fourth birthday. It was so surreal. I was blown away by the pace of New York, everything happens so fast over there. I'm going to shoot some B-Ballers in a street story for American GQ soon and gained even more confidence to push on with growing my offering for women."

These are undoubtedly exciting times for the house of A. Sauvage. Over the last twenty four months, the label has carved out its own path to success thanks largely to Sauvage's obvious passion and drive. Today he stands in his Maddox Street space, a mix of enthusiasm, pride, relief and surprise...

"It is not normal for an emerging label to have its own store but for us it made sense. We came at it from a different angle to most. The Maddox Street store grew out of the fact that we had a growing number of clients visiting us at our old studio so it made sense to have a retail space and it has been great. It feels really real now, it is a house and everything is here."

If you're yet to visit A.Sauvage on Maddox Street, take my hand and allow me to take you on a visual tour of the the ever evolving store...

The space changes regularly and I was fortunate to see the first drops of the new season including a look at the fruits of A.Sauvage's collaboration with Dr. Martens.

A. Sauvage's path may have been unpredictable and atypical when compared to most emerging brands but there can be little doubt that it has arrived.



So inspiring!

SCOUT fanzine

Matthew Spade said...

it's not a place i would like to visit if i had under 20 minutes, it looks like you need to dedicate time to properly take it in. great post guys


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