MONCLER X GREG LAUREN The Summit of Contradictions
Los Angeles ripping it up across the highest mountain tops! Two worlds collide and bring together functionality and spirit. Moncler has found, in Greg Lauren, a perfect – and somewhat unforeseen – snow day partner. All work, all play: in the hands of the American fashion designer, the classic down jacket takes on new dimensions and finds a new soul.
Another occasion for us to dive into the poetic mind of Greg Lauren who always knows how to share his vision and tell a story the way it should be told: with heart and with passion.
Greg Lauren and Moncler… How did such a collaboration come about?
GL: Moncler called me. They very simply said: « Greg, we would love to do a project with you ». They had no idea what it would be, they just asked if I was interested. I said I’d be delighted, of course. My creative wheels started spinning. I had to approach working on the Moncler project the way I do my own work. What did Moncler mean to me? To me, Moncler is very much what people call a heritage company, because it has history, and years of producing these incredibly made products which at one time served a purpose, were functional, were about performance, and then equally turned into a symbol of inspiration. That is the part I respond to. I’ve seen Moncler jackets all over the world. Every time I’m in Paris I see entire families beautifully decked out in their Moncler jackets.
There were so many things for me to play with. I had to take apart shiny red and blue jackets that were so clean and so technically constructed, with perfect craftsmanship. That’s how I approach my own work. Destroying them, taking them apart was exciting. As was combining them with all the fabrics I love using – destroyed military fabrics, destroyed workwear and denim – which have a different kind of soul and history.
You’re based in sunny California. How does a collaboration with Moncler falls into your creative guidelines/DNA?
GL: In my last couple of collections, I was already exploring the idea of what sunny California is like in the Fall, and what does the beach feel like in winter, on a cold day. I’ve gotten to experience the beach and Malibu in January… It’s exciting and it’s different, with a lot of other feelings to it than the classic idea of sunny L.A. and the Pacific Coast highway. California is more than a Beach Boys song.
What I’ve always been about, what I grew up with, in terms of my relationship to clothing is that I believe clothing has, more than ever, opened a door to freedom of expression. Not creatively, but literally. Who we want to be on any given day, how we want to be perceived, is dictated by what we decide to wear when we leave our house. That’s always on my mind.
My lifestyle in Los Angeles, like my creative life, has fueled my exploration of how we express ourselves through clothing. In California – which really is no longer limited to the movie industry, your only limits and boundaries are your own, and your own willingness to explore beyond that. Every character, every archetype that you can imagine being, is a free territory, of sorts, for you to explore. In L.A., people go home or travel to so many places, and come back to L.A., or they come from places all around the world and end up in Los Angeles. It’s a futuristic melting-pot compared to New York, which is more of a historical melting-pot, if you will.
And so, Moncler was very exciting to me: I am all about mixing up characters and juxtapositions of fabrics that don’t make sense. That’s a big part of my work, combining a few things that make no sense being combined, and seeing them make sense. It’s what I love doing more than anything else in my own collections.
How did it come together in the studio? How does a collectable collaboration becomes a 200-piece capsule?
GL: Some of the pieces didn’t make it into the capsule, but were part of the show. It was really exciting to once again have an idea that seemingly makes no sense to others, but felt so right and natural to me, and in the end have that satisfaction of it working. I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. There is something magical that happens when the artistic side takes over. When I am looking at a Moncler jacket, and before I even touch it, I’m seeing what would happen if that jacket was made from my materials, so we experimented with a range of things.
The first few times that I opened a jacket I was surrounded by feathers. My team and I had to figure out how to combine this high-tech nylon that is really lightweight but strong, with much heavier canvas. We felt like musicians rehearsing with a band, doing something over and over again. It doesn’t sound right at first, you can’t imagine that it will work together, and then, all of a sudden, it sounds perfect. I remember the first time I held this bright blue Maya, which is the most iconic Moncler jacket: I just threw it on to my table in pieces and started combining it with scraps of military duffle bags, adding rustic grommet next to their very smooth hardware – even the hardware on a Moncler jacket is perfect and indestructible. Immediately, it made sense to me because whether or not it was going to work, whether or not people would understand it, the contradiction excited me artistically, seeing next to one another the smooth, shiny blue fabric, the mat black hardware, the rugged army canvas with the handwriting of someone who had used it during World War II, and the rusted tarnished metal grommet… Suddenly I was in my playground. I’ve been mixing things that shouldn’t be mixed together, so far, my whole career. When Moncler asked me to do this, the answer was clear.
Throughout your career, you’ve worked with many different materials, from paper to military scraps… What was the most surprising challenge working with Moncler, or the most unexpected gift this collaboration brought?
GL: Most collaborations that Moncler has done have involved somebody’s point of view: an artist rents his esthetics to an already given format, or to pieces that continue being made the way they were always made but with somebody else’s color palette. That’s why I love what Thom Browne has done with Moncler – I feel like he has done a great job of really changing the conversation.
There’s something interesting that never ceases to amaze me that is when I take something that represents a kind of a polished persona, to destroy it and mix it with something that has more… Ah, I don’t know what the word is anymore because when I look at destroyed scraps of pieces that have a history, I know in my heart and in my gut that there is something about the emotional connection that seems to strike a chord with people. I think that this adventure was no different. It was about taking a beautiful product, which for so long has served a certain type of customers, and allowing to open up and express something different. People’s response to it at the presentation was very exciting, because I had people from every demographic, from every type of walk of life, all getting excited about it. That’s the gift, here.
Do you have any specific memories pertaining to snow, or winter?
GL: Snow in New York is a very unique thing. As far back as I can remember, I recall playing and making angels in the snow in Central Park. Being bundled up, as a little child, in some wonderful sort of children winter coat. Memories sometimes blur with images or photographs, I have pictures of myself being pushed by my father in a stroller, and we’re all bundled up. And I have these other pictures of him or my mom holding me with snow in the background. When I think of my childhood and snow, that’s what it is.