Second Look | Monsieur Lacenaire on wools, knitwear and mens fashion being too serious

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Second Look | Monsieur Lacenaire on wools, knitwear and mens fashion being too serious

After discovering the joys of Monsieur Lacenaire during a trip to Copenhagen, we were instantly smitten by the playful joy of knitted varsity jackets and plackets that metamorphose into scarves. Hell, we only ran a video of the latest collection on-site in March, but we couldn’t wait to find out more so, thankfully, we caught up with Mme. Garance Broca to do just that.

You have taken a very specific point of reference as the inspiration for your label and its ethos: Pierre Francois Lacenaire himself. Now, this murderous poet is not so well known here in the UK, so please could you elaborate on who he was and why he inspires you?

Monsieur Lacenaire is known because his character is depicted in the french movie « The Children of Paradise ». He is a « dandy villain » with a free spirit. His poetry wasn’t well recognised but he has a razor sharp wit. Some say that when he climbed the stairs up to the guillotine, it was a Monday and he commented «  the week starts quite badly.

I like this french cynicism and dark sense of humour. It inspired me to make something masculine and chic but also daring and without compromise.

In your collection you include familiar knitwear patterns, such as the snowflake and the elk – but a spider? What’s the story behind using such a motif?

In terms of pattern design, I love to tell a story and make a narrative illustration.

For the winter collection, you can see the traditional elk starts to run and jump out of the garment.

It’s the same with the spider, the design is continued by a close knit cable that ressembles a net and its where you can imagine the spider going up from. This is illustrated in our short stop motion movie that we did to promote the collection

From Alpaca to Baby Alpaca to fine Italian Merino, what is it about wool that enchants you so much?

Indeed I love wool. I like to start from a traditional woolen base and wool is most classic yarn for knitwear. But with the Baby Alpaca, I have found a very luxurious wool that is not often seen (or touched for that matter..). So I try to bring something new in terms of fabric.

Why choose knitwear as your specific medium to return the refinement and fun to men’s fashion – and can those two things co-exist?

I have always worked on the knitwear range in previous jobs and I have a lot of fun learning more and more about it, travelling to the factories and going into the details of a yarn structure… I feel I can really express myself in making patterns and stitches. 
I think knitwear is the perfect outfit to have fun in because it’s not a formal piece.

The last collection featured only four colourways, namely: Navy, Anthracite, Tobacco and “Raw”. Obviously, these are pretty classic menswear colourways but could you say more on why you chose them – and what new colours are you experimenting with for the next collection?

I don’t want to make clothes that are too daring. I want a man to have fun with a design but to also feel comfortable and chic. I did try a hint of color with the elk jumper that I designed in a bright red version with little navy elk.

For summer, I’ve continued on with safe colours such as beige, brown and navy. But I’ve also selected a light green color like spear mint that is very fresh and marina like.

Your collection includes a clear playfulness, so you must feel that men’s fashion is a little too serious – or, at least, men themselves are! Why do you think this is and how do your garments address this issue?

I don’t think men are too serious, I just think that fashion doesn’t do them justice, because for so long fashion seems to be dedicated to women. I love fun labels such as Comme des Garçons, Sibling London or Henrik Vibskov that are really daring. But I want to make the clothes fun in a more subtle way.

What Monsieur Lacenaire playfulness can we look forward to this Spring and Summer and, what fabrics and techniques?

This summer I’ve chosen different types of cotton like Egyptian long fibre or Peruvien shiny cotton. I’ve used honey comb stitching and played with different thickness’s of stitching to make a military jacket. In terms of pattern I’ve played around with houndstooth pattern, turning it into a video game design.

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