Paris Menswear: Louis Gabriel Nouchi stages impressive double header
Certain deep-pocketed brands can stage two shows for their collections the better to reach a larger live audience. Very few have ever pulled off what Louis Gabriel Nouchi managed on Thursday, stage two entirely different collections by the same designer in the same morning. Both of them very much worthy of watching, and wearing.
The French-born designer’s first collection was for Joeone, a giant Chinese brand largely unknown in the West that nonetheless boasts 700 stores and the remarkable claim of selling a pair of trousers every seven seconds. While his second piece of action was for his own brand LGN – both of them unveiled with finesse at the fountain of the Palais de Tokyo.
Many designers – most notably the great Rick Owens – have staged shows in this location, but Nouchi, operating on a modest budget, managed to make the setting his own. Building a massive flat mirror dock in the center of the pool and letting his cast march seemingly on water.
That fit perfectly with the theme of Joeone, presented at 9 a.m. under cloudy skies, the idea of characters taking the silk road from China to Europe. Best illustrated by some really great mint or washed out blue Toile de Jouy prints, reinvented to include everything from Chinese dragons to Italian gondolas, the Arc de Triomphe or the Grande Arche de la Defense at the finale. Made with great billowing pants; swaddling shorts and fantastic black calico trousers with a junk print; anchored with hiking sandals; and accessorized with deep totes and shoulder bags, this was a concise and clever collection.
“The idea was to go back to the Silk Road, a path retracing China to Europe passing along sea lanes. That is why you see a lot of maritime symbols. I started with the Toile de Jouy, a French pattern, and then adapted it to different destinations,” explained Nouchi, a graduate of La Cambre fashion school in Brussels, and who has worked for Raf Simons.
One hour later, using the same cast but more early-morning makeup, Nouchi sent out casual-yet-urbane urban wear for LGN in a co-ed collection, all inspired by the 1984 novel The Lover by Marguerite Duras. Though, the designer in fact renamed the collection Unauthorized after the publishers refused Nouchi the right to even mention the book’s title.
A tale of a teenage Western beauty’s love affair with an older Asian man, the sexual intensity of the novel, and acclaimed film, was a great spring board for a collection, which looked made for the boudoir as much as the avenue.
“It’s all the reflection about the bathrobe; indoor and external clothes. The collection is very ambivalent between the feminine and the masculine, and focuses on the idea of sensuality. So, we started also to imagine how she could be dressed, with big glasses, big pearl necklaces, this bourgeois Left Bank side that we made super sexy, because the book is super sulphurous and I wanted this more to be sensual then sexual,” added Nouchi.
Playing with marble-print fabrics and judo-like materials he composed wide colonial shorts; plantation-owner jackets; silk-lined dressing gowns in denim or fine wools for after parties; and natty low-gorge cardigans.
Highly assured in his choice of silhouette and setting, Nouchi and LGN seem poised for rapid growth. He is also confident enough to stage the only two live shows in Paris among a dozen brands listed on the calendar. And today includes the likes of Louis Vuitton, Issey Miyake and Dries Van Noten.
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