From Junya Watanabe (so good) and Christopher Raeburn (so, so good!) to ongoing collections with Thom Browne and Giambattista Valli, the Italian brand Moncler has long pursued a fine line in collaborations since it was rescued, refreshed, and revitalised by Remo Ruffini near the turn of the millennium. Tonight at a gallery in the Third Arrondisement of Paris, Moncler revealed the latest chapter in its constant refresh of its core, down-filled product, this time co-authored by designer and artist Greg Lauren. The L.A.-based designer and artist has produced a 300-ish-strong limited-edition capsule entitled Collide that sees Ruffini’s swanky and originally snowbound Japanese nylon-bound outerwear sliced, diced, and nicely respliced to chime with Lauren’s beauty-in-wearedness aesthetic.
Lauren, dressed top to toe in his delicately distressed and precisely ripped reclaimed clothes—imagine Yohji Yamamoto had been commissioned as costume designer to Charlie Chaplin on The Tramp—was charmingly in situ to explain the work. This is what he said when one accidentally shambolic dresser caught up with a man who has made his career from it, as well as Moncler’s press office and media director Domenico Galluccio, who is Italian and in fashion so thus always impeccably attired.
Greg, hallo! So how did you and Moncler hook up? There is a long history of collaborations pursued by the brand, but you are very much about one-of-a-kind pieces which—and excuse me Domenico—is a hard strategy to pursue when you want to sell a lot of jackets.
GREG LAUREN: I had seen the iconic Moncler down jackets Outlet in every city, of course. But what’s long-impressed me is that for such an established heritage luxury brand, Remo Ruffini has has always pursued these collaborations. They keep fresh ideas floating through. So when I got the call from Francesco Ragazzi (Moncler’s artistic director) I said yes before they even asked me what they wanted me to work on with them! I felt honored that I was somehow on their radar as an interesting designer doing something new and a little bit different.
So how did the collaboration evolve?
LAUREN: Well, I had no idea what I was getting into. The first piece I worked with started with a classic blue Moncler down jacket. I was looking at this bright, new, shiny, jacket thinking uh-oh, what did I get myself into? This jacket is gorgeous but it couldn’t be further away from anything that I normally do and get excited about! But the idea of tearing it apart, cutting it up and transforming it got me really excited. Feathers flew, and I was suddenly learning about this piece from the inside and putting it back together again. It was broken and it was dismembered and then we rebuilt it with my signature elements. And it started to work. You know I’ve always believed that the magic of clothing does not lie in the clothing itself but when people start to wear it.
How many people do you have working on this, Greg?
LAUREN: We have eight cutters and 10 sewers in L.A., and I am in there in the trenches with them every day handpicking fabrics and patchwork. Every patch is like a personal treasure to me! So for this there might be 15 variations of every one style, but each of them will have a totally individual fingerprint.
What are the materials that you’ve hybridized with Moncler’s originals?
LAUREN: In this collection it felt obvious that I stick with my signature pieces which are vintage U.S. military tents and duffle bags. In the patchwork, I use antique hemp and antique Japanese Boro and antique African indigo. Everthything that I have learned to love and which you wouldn’t think works together but does.
At this point Virginie Mouzat of French Vanity Fair—who has prompted many a car crash on the boulevards as she crossed them—interrupted us.
MOUZAT: I am totally bourgeois but I could totally wear this, with my high heels and everything. It’s fantastic!
LAUREN: Thank you!
I first encountered your work when I interviewed your uncle [Ralph Lauren] in his office on Madison Avenue some time ago. There were a few pieces hanging in there far more sculptural than these, which he proudly showed me. Do I remember right?
LAUREN: Yes! Wow! That was from my alteration art exhibition, where as a visual artist I learned to sew so that I could make the most iconic menswear garments—everything I was raised to wear—out of paper. It was fascinating because they were very close to the real pieces. It was ironic too, because I was kind of playing with a notion, of course, of celebrating them but also commenting on the power of their image and their paper-thinness. I was exploring everyone of those pieces whose character I had explored as a child and young adult.
He [Ralph] came into the exhibition and said “I love that, I love that, I want that,” but the most interesting piece that he bought, which you would not have seen in his office, was the most defining piece of the show. It was a straight-jacket! From the front it looked like a white marble three-piece suit but from the back it had all the strapping. I said to him, “Do you know what this piece is about?” and he said, “I understand it! And I love the white on white!”
Ah Ralph. He always sees method in madness. This Greg Lauren x Moncler Sale capsule is well worth taking in if you can.