Most of the jackets Louis Wong has designed have been tributes to silver-screen icons. First, he turned to the French cop movies of the '70s, crafting badass black leather coats a la Alain Delon. After that, he explored all-American tropes, using Ferris Bueller and Top Gun-era Tom Cruise as references. Then, last fall, Wong found inspiration in another type of hero. Titled "The Coming Out," his latest collection for his label, Louis W., was a nod to singer Frank Ocean and New York's emerging queer rap scene.
"These kids have a willingness to assert their identity, which I find compelling," Wong says. "I'm trying to reflect that in my work through a combination of different materials." So he came up with the Shinjuku, a daring bomber with its shearling lining turned inside out, and the Brooklyn, a cropped zip-up piece made of padded gabardine and silk inspired by Jamel Shabazz's photographs. It wasn't the first time the quiet half of the French label A.P.C. (the other is its outspoken creator, Jean Touitou) had expressed his extroverted side: Last spring, Wong released a jacket made of iridescent gold lambskin leather.
Giovanni jacket SS14 (left) and Army Ferris jacket SS13
It was with Touitou's sponsorship that Wong, who was born in Malaysia and moved to Paris when he was 6, launched his own brand two years ago. "The idea was to expand the scope of A.P.C. with a premium range of garments," Wong says. "It had to be simple because of the brand's image, so I focused on jackets, which easily stand out."
WATCH: Louis W. and Zone Records present "Bent 4 U"
Directed by Adrien Colthier, the short film is set in Brooklyn, a nod to Jamel Shabazz, and cut like a music video to the synthesized sounds of "Tank Diving" by Maelstrom, electronic artist and newcomer on Zone records. Jackets by Louis W.
Despite its American influences, Louis W. is still quintessentially French. "In Paris, a lot of young men walk around wearing vintage biker leathers, shearling collars, or aviator bomber jackets, like in the movies," he says. "I play a lot with American codes, but I ultimately have a very Parisian approach to style." And at a time when his industry is looking at fresh new hubs like London, Wong believes Paris plays a pivotal role in men's fashion.
"Menswear in Paris is more about real men," he says. He's fascinated by a new generation of Parisians rejecting the concept of "a look," instead flaunting their parents' old clothes on Boulevard St.-Germain, where his office is. "The outfits on the Left Bank feel natural, underdressed almost," he says. "It's a concept very close to what I do: being stylish, effortlessly."
From left: Ferris jacket SS14, Shinjuku jacket FW13-14, Corleone jacket SS14 (Photo: Bruno Staub)