René Lacoste is a legend in tennis history, but it was the game of golf that really seems to have run in the family. His wife and daughter were both golf champions. So was Felipe Oliveira Baptista's great uncle, back home in Portugal. And Baptista himself played when he was a kid. That was the rhyme and reason of his new collection for Lacoste, which, the designer agreed, was a pretty radical reconceptualization of golf wear, nothing at all like the campy apogee of sartorial hell that Miuccia Prada had so much fun with in her Spring 2012 collection for men.
There was, for instance, the merest suggestion of argyle, in a sweater with a single diamond, and not a fluoro shade in sight. Instead of a riot of clashing color and pattern, there was head-to-toe monochrome—matching jacket, pants, shirt, trainers, and often, backpack—in classic Lacoste burgundy, or the greens of fairway and forest. Baptista's starting point was Chantaco, a golf course Lacoste's father-in-law designed in the 1920s in the Basque region of France. The colors of nature, obviously, but inspiration drawn as well from Chantaco's Art Deco clubhouse, in the style of which Baptista created striking angular graphics for the dressier pieces in the collection. The leanness and elongation of the womenswear also had a twenties flavor. But equally, the designer took a distinctive utilitarian approach with parkas, anoraks, multipocketed jackets, and pouched tops. These were practical all-weather clothes for outdoor games.
And yet there was something more, an elusive quality that hinted at the subtle pleasures of casual clothing beautifully realized. In that, you could almost see Baptista moving into the same row that Véronique Nichanian, say, has hoed so effectively at Hermès.