At first glance, the designs of Frenchman Lucien Pellat-Finet might appear to be little more than an unabashed celebration of vulgarity. To be sure, kitsch is undoubtedly one of Monsieur Pellat-Finet’s raisons d’être. But as with so many things in this world, run far enough with the “bad”, and you’ll likely come back round the other side holding something good.
Over the last few seasons, runways have felt the influence of sportswear and street style more than ever before. And if there’s a dominant vein running through men’s fashion right now, it’s the breaking down of the old rules, and an invigorating disregard for the strict sartorial taxonomies of yesteryear. Out go the classic codes of tasteful combination; in comes an emphasis on fun and eclectic magpie-ism. Harmonic mismatching.
In this respect, Pellat-Finet has something in common with his compatriot Christian Audigier: cut-and-paste Americana viewed though a Gallic lens; Venice Beach, CA, via Paris, FR. And while Pellat-Finet is not quite Jeff Koons, there’s also something of the latter’s double-layered appropriation going on here: equal measures of irony and straight-faced appreciation for “low” culture existing side by side.
In the humorless world of luxury fashion, Pellat-Finet’s sassy irreverence comes as a welcome respite from all the self-important posturing. Knowingly reworking sacred menswear standards; re-contextualizing hallowed pop-icons; and throwing in a few eclectic world-traveler and counter-cultural references for good measure. It’s a flippant mix-and-match approach that is just right for these post-postmodern times.
And if the true purpose of art is to reflect the age, then surely Pellat-Finet is among the most relevant of today’s designers. By recycling the detritus of contemporary culture – reveling just as equally in the good as the bad – he embraces the zeitgeist in a way that many more dour and intellectual fashion labels cannot.
However, Lucien is an altogether more complex being than this. Yes, his oeuvre reflects society, but just as frequently also transgresses its norms. Indeed Pellat-Finet often goes out of his way to do things “wrong.” How else might we explain a look that places a brightly-striped dress-shirt over a pink turtleneck, and then covers these two layers under a fierce fuchsia hoody that’s two sizes too small for the wearer? Or take instead an outfit that pairs a frilly-fronted blouse-of-a-shirt with something the East German athletics team might have worn at the 1976 Summer Olympics – only with skulls on.
By juxtaposing such incongruous elements as retro leisure-wear and novelty knits, Pellat-Finet somehow transforms this unlikely material into the most bleeding-edge of creations. Even so, his quirky designs can easily be taken as something of an ironic in-joke. Cheeky trash-luxury for those in the know. Yet while he may make “the finest, most luxurious cashmere in the world” look more like thrift-finds from a Deadhead parking lot – rest assured – the actual garments are a million miles from the sophomore-stoner cliches they pastiche.
Take, for example, the tie-dyed graphic tee we currently have in stock. Although the initial reaction might be one of full moon party, the stylish low neckline and rolled edges underline the fact that this is a high fashion item, not the beach bum mooch-rag it may resemble. You surely won’t find a cut and fit like this on Bangkok’s Khao San Road.
Nonetheless, it’s evident that Pellat-Finet has been spending some time on the Southeast Asian traveler circuit. Certainly the mystical tiger and death-mask tee we have in stock reveals an appreciation for the handiwork of Bangkok’s famed Noo Kanpai, master of Thailand’s occult tattoo arts.
Well-known to cognoscenti such as Cara Delevingne and Angelina Jolie (both of whom sport his supernatural ink), and revered almost as a living deity in his home country, “Ajarn” Kanpai arrives at his temple-come-tattoo-parlor to hushed silence from the awaiting throng. But stepping out of his dark-windowed sedan in aviators, Kanpai looks every bit the Mafia Don. Hell, even hardened vets of the Master’s needle warn against taking on the liability of a tiger tattoo.
The most powerful of Thai supernatural imagery, the tiger is reputed to be a tough demon to tame – exposing psychologically unprepared owners to some considerable spiritual risk. We can only hope that the transferal of the troublesome tigers onto a graphic tee has in some way calmed their wayward spirits.
At the very least, the white on navy design is rather elegant, lending itself to a variety of interpretations. For example, paired with an oversized t-shirt and bomber, it could easily take on an Owensy-street-Goth direction. Yet it would look every bit as good with a midnight blue suit, or worn under a denim jacket.
And for those concerned that our camouflage number might have them mistaken for a backwoods survivalist, the embroidered pot-leaf in “correctional” orange serves to ensure that your eclectic fashion credentials remain fully intact.