Le Preppy

Gildas Loaec and Masaya Kuroki’s Maison Kitsuné record label was one of the defining hip lifestyle phenomena of the noughties; had the hip international kids dancing from Mitte to Shoreditch. Perhaps less overtly visible outside of Paris was that fashion was always meant to be a serious part of the equation, the first ready-to-wear collections having been launched in 2005.

There is also perhaps a certain irony in Kitsuné’s style. The Maison Kitsuné story, for example, can be located historically in the unique developments of a certain kind of twenty-something culture in Paris during the late 1990’s that had never been a feature of the city. Before then, Paris, with it’s BCBG stranglehold was the kind city in which kids graduated directly from clothing selected by their parents to clothing worn by their parents; adolescent girls went directly from sickly pink Naf Naf sweatshirts into Ted Lapidus. In short, the strength of an autonomous youth style was sadly absent compared with other cultures.

Then, something special happened with an explosion of a vibrant twenty-something culture. Trendy record labels sprung up based on the chanson traditions of the 1960s that suddenly saw French pop music embraced for the first time internationally since Françoise Hardy was the toast of London in the Swinging Sixties. Graphic designers produced hip and cool t-shirt designs, taking from American skateboarding culture and giving it a new French flair. Venues like Colette and Palais de Tokyo became the new temples of cool…

All in all, Kitsuné’s subsequent success owes a lot to the wheels put in motion by such groundswell developments; the outpouring of a new twenty-something culture that wanted to make its own mark on the city.

So, there is perhaps a certain irony that Kitsuné’s own clothing label shares such an affinity with the very ‘Bon Chic Bon Genre’ style against which a lot of all these developments just over a decade ago were a kind off good-natured rebellion. While its record label was foraging out the artists to make the trendy kids in tight jeans and logo-bearing t-shirts dance the night away in sweaty underground clubs, the masion’s own fashion label was looking to classic styling based in traditional production techniques and on the practicality of items that are easily worn in many contexts. Certainly, the AW10 ‘Ivy League’ collection can hardly deny its affinity with a classic French preppy look, in this case with an eye on the international market.

In the women’s collection, the emphasis is on the core items of a wearable chic wardrobe: fitted trench coats, feminine blouses, cardigans, blazer-like jackets with piping details, shirts and smart loose fitting dresses with fitted high waistlines or tied belts to accentuate curves. It offers the perfect solution for any woman who wants to be able to move easily from one social context to another without having to worry about being underdressed or overdressed. For a generation that has brought up on visible sexual freedom, it’s also a knowing and fashionable way of choosing not to put everything out there every minute of the day. At least not until it’s time to change into a tight Kitsuné t-shirt and hit the clubs.


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