Ending this Paris Fashion Week (it did feel like a month, though) coverage with an A.P.C. collection that captured the authentic, real, charismatic youth of Paris. “The kids are all right” was Jean Touitou’s conclusion of his latest show. Paraded in front of a crowd of press, brand friends and buyers in typically low-key style at the brand’s Rue Madame base, the collection was a highly personal presentation, modeled by Touitou’s daughter Lily and her teenage classmates from Paris’s École Diagonale. Perhaps Touitou felt the need to emphasize the family-run spirit of the label he founded in 1987. After all, last week came the announcement that L Catterton, the LVMH-backed private-equity group, had taken a majority stake in the company. “The young people who are going to walk this runway are like veterans. They experienced the raging of their hormones in a bunker with their parents during the COVID crisis,” he said. “That crisis could have wiped us out as a brand. We survived that war by getting stronger. Everybody you see here was born in 2006, and I think it’s a good metaphor for the sort of transmission process we started recently.” What followed was a determinedly youthful take on A.P.C.’s well-honed vision of Gallic urbanity, each look a nod to what Touitou called “a tribe” in a backstage debrief postshow. There was a Take Ivy preppiness to Japanese selvedge denim miniskirts and high-waist jeans worn with stripy shirts and shiny penny loafers; a street-inflected attitude to gray marl sweatpants and nylon flight jackets; a grungy insolence to flannel shirts worn with slip skirts, fluoro T-shirts, and scuffed plimsolls. And what stunning teenagers! All with their own carefully considered quirks – a snazzy Bananarama hairstyle here, swooping black eyeliner there – and forming a touching antidote to the celebrity-packed catwalks to which we’ve become accustomed. “I love this idea of no casting. You don’t say to people, ‘You’re too tall, too fat, too this, too that.’ Everybody was just cool about it,” said Touitou, who confirmed that, post-partnership deal, he will remain creative director of the brand alongside his art director wife, Judith.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
Many brands release their spring-summer 2021 collections right now, a month after the fashion month frenzy. For many, it’s the season of uncertainty. While the clothes will be produced, will anyone buy them? Will there be a reason to shop again? Will 2021 be saved by the vaccine or doomed by the total lockdown? This is a pack of questions that disturb everyone, from small labels to big players. And of course, the present times are also full of anxiety. On a video call with Vogue, Jean Touitou predicted that 2020 will “end up not as catastrophic as we thought at first” for brand A.P.C. Naturally, he had a theory as to why. “Is it because we do clothes,” he asked, “instead of just images of clothes?” Not waiting for an answer, he commented, “Reflection counts for more than substance” in this industry. These days, Touitou is coming around to the idea of content, “as long as it’s ‘very personal’ and ‘matter-of-fact.’” He said he’s considering a podcast series in which he and his three kids play a song and talk about its maker; episode one may feature “Arnold Layne,” a Syd Barrett tune off This Is Pink Floyd and the band’s very first single. “Playing music with our kids, nobody can do that but me,” Touitou reasoned. It’s thanks to Jean and Judith’s daughter Haydée that Tim Elkaim shot this season’s look book. She hired him for her magazine, The Skirt Chronicles, before he got this gig. “A virtuous circle,” Touitou called the familial give-and-take. What about the clothes? There’s lots to love, pretty much as usual with A.P.C. The oversized jeans with off-center button flies that first made an appearance last season returned here, and the same treatment was applied to a raw denim mini. All of the button-downs were buttoned up to the top and finished with a thick gold chain worn high under the collar. In one case, a chambray shirt was accessorized by three chains. Cool classics that have that Parisian soul – this just can’t go wrong.
Jean and Judith Touitou presented their autumn-winter 2020 collection as look-book shoot instead of runway – the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus concern. A.P.C. is about product consistence, so don’t expect abrupt newness. However, this season, the styling had changed. The model in look 1 wore a pair of size 35 jeans – Jean’s own size, he said – in which the button and button hole were moved off center to accommodate for the extra fabric. She’s probably more like a 25. Boys got the same oversized treatment. On a back pocket, a white cardboard information label peeked out with washing instructions. Most of the time the jeans were accompanied by a wool sweater, tied as a scarf. Additionally, there were some lovely printed midi-dresses and minis, very thrift-Parisian-chic that rules among the locals. What about the rumour saying that Jean is selling A.P.C. “I don’t want to, I don’t need to,” he said. “I have total freedom, I have a good life. I’m not 14 hours in the studio. No, no. I’m okay.” Thanks God.
“The older I grow, the less subtle I want to be,”Jean Touitou said at his spring-summer 2020 A.P.C. show. He was speaking over a microphone in a courtyard on the Rue Cassette near his headquarters, during the laid-back garden show/presentation. He also added that he was thinking about communist events in the 1970s and nighttime gatherings in city squares. Theory aside, the collection was all about summer colors and easy silhouettes. A tangerine swing coat, a pastel paisley minidress and grass green dinette dresses are the highlights. He clashed this all together with quirky styling tricks, like thick knit socks, backpacks worn on the chest and A.P.C. quilts held up like banners (hand-made by Jessica Ogden). Minimalism and purity of form are main codes at A.P.C., but as Touitou ages, his gestures are becoming easier and more free. On the backs of some pieces he had written slogans in an all-caps font: RADICALLY MINIMAL, POSITIVELY NORMAL. A.P.C. continues to be one of the best labels for daywear.
This was a classic A.P.C. presentation, with a few plot twists. Jean Toitou invited two collaborators for autumn-winter 2019 collection: Brain Dead, an Los Angeles–based streetwear brand, and Suzanne Koller, the house’s longtime stylist and Parisian friend. The first created graphic hoodies based on the 1972 documentary, Future Shock, in which Orson Welles, playing narrator, discusses how technology is moving too fast for humans to keep up. Koller, the fashion director of MLe Monde and Self Service, designed the collection’s black wool dress (worn by her currently favourite blond, Maggie Mauer) and an oversize parka that she teamed with a monochrome look in gray: chunky sweater, turtleneck, wool trousers, and leather boots. During his speech, Touitou joked, “Maybe you can guess which pieces are hers.” Knowing her style and work, you could think of Koller right away, even not knowing about A.P.C.’s collab. A.P.C. values consistence, which seems like the best advise for any brand doing shows in Paris. And their eventual ‘surprises’ make this consistence even more beautiful.