Lucas Ossendrijver on ten years at Lanvin
As head of menswear at Lanvin homme, Lucas Ossendrijver has helped elevate the French fashion house's identity to previous unreached levels. Esquire Middle East caught up with the Dutch designer as he celebrates his tenth Anniversary with the brand:
ESQ: Happy anniversary! How has the menswear business changed over the past ten years?
Lucas Ossendrijver: People don’t change, men don’t change; our lifestyle does. What I’ve seen is that there is much more interest in fashion than there used to be. Men’s fashion has become a growing business. Men are more and more open to fashion. The way we live now means that all the information about fashion is immediately available worldwide, no matter where you are. Fashion has become democratic and everybody has an opinion about it. It is less elitist than it used to be. The speed has changed! In men’s we also started doing pre-collections, so instead of two shows it’s four collections now. This constant demand for newness put a lot more pressure on us designers. Men started to buy clothes more like women do; less about needs, and more because they want certain things, more impulsive, more outspoken. You have to deal with those things. It also creates new opportunities for us. You have to adapt. That’s what I love about fashion. The constant questioning of things.
How have you adapted to accommodate those very profound changes?
The media has really taken over! Without wanting to sound nostalgic, I remember the time when you had to search for information because it simply wasn’t immediately available to everybody. Nowadays that mystery has gone. But that’s just the way it is and you just have to deal with it. I personally don’t have an Instagram account, for example, because I don’t feel the necessity to communicate all the time. It doesn’t interest me.
My work is important and that’s the way I communicate; my private life is mine. In a way it makes you think more about your own position and way of living. What is important and what is not. But it’s purely personal.
What has been your main highlight at Lanvin over the past decade?
Step by step we’ve been able to build a business that still grows. It’s difficult to last in fashion because the attention span is very short nowadays. One day you’re in, next day you’re out! So maybe that’s what I’m most proud of.
What do you think is in store for menswear this year?
I think it’s a very particular moment in fashion with lots of changes all around us. Menswear has changed a lot the last decade, the speed of it. I hope fashion will become more about design and less about entertainment! That there will be more space for newness, other possibilities, invention.
What should we be investing in this season?
I always believe in buying less, but buying better! Investment pieces, pieces that last. For a man there is nothing better than a tailored jacket or coat. I love the light summer coats we did for summer [pictured left]. They are fully canvassed with a soft shoulder, patched front and are hand-stitched in a light wool mohair. I also love the embroidered bowling shirt [below right]. I look forward to wearing that this summer.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the years?
Work hard, stay humble. Today I still feel lucky to be able to work in fashion and do what I do. Fashion to me is still a free place based on creativity, with wonderful people. I love the people I work with, that to me is also very important. Fashion is a group effort, it’s not a solitary occupation. When I think of my years at Lanvin, I think of all the people I’ve worked with, the journey it’s been, and the chance I’ve had to meet all these people.
Has your work as a designer changed as you’ve grown older?
Actually, my way of working hasn’t changed at all. I think there’s a very specific way we work at Lanvin. A lot of research and effort is put into the clothes, every seam and stitch is thought through. Then there is the way we work with colours, often muted or ‘in-between’ tones, and the textures we develop in fabrics and knits to give depth to the collection. Nothing is taken for granted, everything is considered. All that work you see and feel as a customer when you view the clothes up close. That intimacy is very important to me. It is also how I judge clothes. How are they made? What makes them stand out? I love craftsmanship, it never bores me, even after all these years. I’m still very passionate about that. Sometimes I feel more like a tailor or an architect than a stylist. I love making clothes. The whole process behind it. That’s also why I love the bespoke department, where everything is done to the highest standards, all by hand. Incredible!
How would you define your SS16 collection?
To me SS16 was all about craft and ease. How to make things look and feel easy and light, while the way the pieces were made was often very intricate and special. A lot of work went into the construction and details but I didn’t really want it to show. Clothes to me should feel light and easy, they shouldn’t overpower the person that’s wearing them. It’s all about intimacy and whispering.
- - -
Lanvin is at The Dubai Mall, +971 4 330 8008