Photography: Bruno Staub / Model: Mason Buccheri
There is nothing wrong with having a little bit of a leather fetish. For Louis Wong, co-designer at A.P.C. since 2005, it's a fixation on biker jackets, aviator bomber coats or varsity blousons. Toying around with the iconic status of leather is the idée fixe behind his label Louis W., debuted last year under the sponsorship of A.P.C. Owner/President Jean Touitou as a capsule collaboration. As his third collection launches at Paris Fashion Week this weekend, Wong takes us through his very US-centric creative process for the Spring/Summer line.
Louis Wong: I like American horror movies from the '70s and John Hughes comedies. The Ferris jacket is a reference to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I'm not even sure Matthew Broderick wears real leather in the movie, but I like that collegiate style. So I created a suede jacket in the same vein, with a slightly retro feel. While I was coming up with the designs I also had in mind the type of man who would wear it: the captain of the football team, the campus jock, the rebel, or the American hero like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Mason, the model we chose for the campaign, has exactly the all-American, athletic look that I was imagining.
What was the main challenge for the Spring/Summer collection?
It's a lot more complex to come up with a line of leather jackets for summer, so I decided to make pieces that could be worn between seasons. It's more interesting to propose timeless pieces, something a little bit out-of-season. The main difference is the color palette: the shades are lighter, the leather is thinner than what I used for the Autumn-Winter line. The Tom jacket is made with ecru lambskin mainly reserved for driving gloves.
How did you merge those strong American influences with the quintessentially-French image of A.P.C.?
The look of the collection plays with clichés a lot and the styles are very iconic. In Paris, a lot of young men walk around wearing vintage biker leathers, shearling collars and aviator bomber jackets like in the movies. I play a lot with American codes, but ultimately it's a very Parisian approach to American style.
Why focus on leather?
Leather is a way to expand the scope of A.P.C. by offering something different. A lot of capsule collections are more casual than the core brand they're associated with. Here the idea was to present a collection even more high-end, using the best quality. It's a more original concept.
Did you adapt the proportions of vintage jackets to make them more relevant today?
I wanted a very real and neutral look, not too fitted, not too loose. Something ultra-normal. Obviously, you can wear them the way you want, but my intention was to create perfectly executed clothes inspired by vintage styles, using new material. For the gold Army Ferris jacket, we found this superb iridescent leather. Initially I wanted silver, but I found this very subtle, pale gold shade and added metallized Lurex for the edges.
Are you influenced by Parisian trends?
I like the nonchalance that Parisians have in their approach to style, their rejection of "a look". It's a concept very close to what we do at A.P.C.: being stylish without forcing yourself upon others. Parisian style has an intimate quality, everything is in the details. Our offices are in St-Germain, where the new generation struts around wearing their parents' clothes. The music scene is also a great source of inspiration. Right now I'm really into Kindness. Adam Bainbridge has good style, very "no-look".
What's in the cards for Louis W. Fall 2013? Are you going to expand the line to other garments?
I'm sticking to jackets for now. I'm moving on from revisiting clichés and direct references. The theme is individuality, the expression of self through personal style. I was inspired by Frank Ocean's coming-out, and openly gay rappers who stand up for who they are. They have a willingness to assert their identity which I find compelling. I'm trying to reflect that through the combination of different materials, adding a bit of shearling here and there. I'm keeping a few classics, but it's going to be more dramatic than what I've done so far.
What's next for you after the collection launches?
I'm focusing on the A.P.C. presentation in Paris on January 19, where we'll show the Louis W. jackets along with the new collection. We're doing things a little bit differently this year, with models. I'm very excited.
Available from January 18 in A.P.C. stores worldwide and at apc.fr
Jackets $590-$2350; pants $295; T-shirts $90.