12 posts tagged "Jean Touitou"
“It was time to go east,” said Jean Touitou, founder of cult label A.P.C, at his store launch last night in the heart of London’s East End. The shop is Touitou’s second in London. The first, in Mayfair, caters to a more, let’s say, polished crowd. “Shoreditch—it’s a different clientele and totally unique vibe, not just from the West End, but from anywhere in the world,” Touitou explained. “The timing seemed perfect to open up here as the brand has a lot of cool East End kids as fans.”
Judging by the huge crowd that spilled out on the street, his assessment seems to be spot on. Local fans no longer have to hightail it to Bond Street for their fix, and the retailer is only the latest addition to the Shoreditch scene; the boutique is located next to the Sunspel shop and ground zero of East End dining, Les Trois Garçons. This particular branch isn’t shop as much is it closet, a bijou space that is perfectly in keeping with the brand ethos of less-is-more. The small size had the faithful spilling out in the street, including designers Peter Pilotto, Thomas Tait, J.W. Anderson, and Husam El Odeh, as well as plenty of East End kids ready to spend their milk money. (Incidentally, everyone has to shell out at A.P.C.—even celebrity fans like Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sofia Coppola, and Alexa Chung. “I don’t give celebrities any free items—it’s very democratic process; they come to the shops and buy the clothes like anyone else,” Touitou insisted. “I think as a business you are doing something right when you have famous people actually buy something, when they are normally used to getting stuff for free. Must mean something, non?”)
And where’s the next stop for A.P.C.’s world-domination mission? Maybe Touitou’s beloved India, the inspiration behind the Madras line he makes in collaboration with Jessica Ogden? “No, the timing for India is definitely not right. Indians are very focused on bling right now—they just don’t get this pared-down aesthetic.”
A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou had a special guest in tow for last night’s opening of his A.P.C. Specials store in the West Village: Jessica Ogden, the usually under-the-radar co-designer of the brand’s Madras line. Given the cold outside, it was especially appropriate that conversation with Ogden turned on quilts; her latest collaboration with Touitou is the Quilt Project, a range of limited-edition ones made from fabrics culled from the A.P.C. archives. None of which, Ogden says, she herself owns. “I already have so many quilts, ones I’ve collected over the years, I’m not sure I could cram any more into my home,” she admitted. “I do have these small samples of the ones we’ve made. They’re like doll-size versions.” Unfortunately for Ogden, her brief trip to New York didn’t coincide with the American Folk Art Museum’s huge show of red and white quilts that comes to the Park Avenue Armory in March. “Maybe there’s some way I can back for that,” Ogden mused. “The pieces look stunning, and to see them all together, all that red and white on display…”
Touitou, for his part, is due back in the city sooner rather than later. The A.P.C. Specials store, it turns out, is not the only A.P.C. outlet opening in the West Village: Touitou is also readying a 2,000-square-foot store around the corner. “It’ll just be a regular A.P.C. store, with all the usual things,” Touitou explained, in his usual unvarnished manner. And in the meantime, A.P.C. fans can come to the Specials store for a hit of A.P.C. nostalgia. Not only is it the New York home for Butler, A.P.C.’s range of used, retro-fitted jeans, but Specials also features an ever-evolving selection of archival A.P.C. product, brought back as Touitou sees fit. And then there are the quilts. “I like the idea of someone coming in and seeing a piece of fabric from a dress or a shirt she owns,” Touitou noted. “The quilts, they’re like a retrospective of A.P.C. That’s why I would never make them from new materials. What’s the point?”
The A.P.C. wag—and his standard-bearer, brand founder Jean Touitou—is more often than not found in jeans and a tee. (No wonder the label specializes in just-so versions of just those.) But every boy’s gotta man up and throw on a suit now and then, and A.P.C.’s new suit collection is here to help with that.
In fairness, the French label has been making suiting separates since its founding, but they’ve been of a more casual kind, sized on an XS-XL scale and sold finished on the rack—no hemming to fit. With the new line, the suits (in navy, above, black, and gray) come in traditional sartorial sizing, from 44 to 54, and are sold with unfinished hems for perfect sizing. Credit a new factory for the improved production and brave foray into a new category—and, maybe, a new maturity, too.
Jacket, $825, and pants, $235, available now at A.P.C. stores; for locations, visit www.apc.fr.
“There are too many hip kids,” mused A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou on a recent afternoon. “Hip is not a job. It makes me worry about the future.” Touitou, who knows something about hip, was in New York City playing part-time fashion week flaneur; he turned up at the Purple magazine dinner and at the Rodarte after-party for a little fieldwork in professional cool. However that made him feel about the future, Touitou’s more pressing preoccupation these days is with the past. He and his Madras co-designer Jessica Ogden are currently at work on a quilting project (part art exhibition, part retail initiative) for which they dug fabric out of the A.P.C. archives and delivered it to women in India who have been specially trained in the handicraft style of the American South. “My mother was a quilter,” Touitou explained, “and so was Jessica’s mother. We share the obsession.”
Touitou, in fact, has held on to a prize quilt of his mother’s for years: It’s currently in his Paris studio, and, before that, hung in his old band’s practice space. That’s another past era he’s been mining recently. “You can see the quilt in this picture of the band,” he said. There’s the quilt, and there’s young Jean (right), guitar in hand, looking hip (if not professionally so). The photo ended up getting screened on a T-shirt for Fall ’10. “When the printer finished it, he called and said, ‘Your Dylan tee is ready,’ ” Touitou recalled. “He thought I was Dylan! It was the best day of my life.”
Where does the sex kitten lead singer of one of the most critically reviled pop acts of all time go when her band breaks up? Why, to A.P.C., of course. Wendy James was hard on the heels of her first album post-Transvision Vamp when A.P.C. honcho Jean Touitou offered her his recording studio, which he keeps tucked away at A.P.C. headquarters in Paris. “It was just to play around in, really,” explains James. “The album I’d released, I’d worked on with Elvis Costello. It wasn’t mine, exactly. I needed some time to find my footing as a solo artist.” That was about 12 years ago. This spring, James returned to Touitou’s studio (the place where Jarvis Cocker and Wes Anderson recorded the music for The Fabulous Mr. Fox) and laid down the tracks for her forthcoming solo debut, I Came Here to Blow Minds. Here, James gives Style.com an exclusive preview of the song “King Hoodlum” and talks to us about Sonic Youth, Surface 2 Air, and selling T-shirts at Colette.
I Came Here to Blow Minds is the first “Wendy James” album, but since leaving Transvision Vamp, you’ve actually released two LPs under the name Racine. I’ve always been under the impression that Racine No. 1 and Racine 2 were solo projects. Not so?
Well, those albums were all me, certainly. Racine No. 1 came out of my building a studio at my house in London and teaching myself, you know, the technical side of things. Other than the guitar parts, I played every instrument on that album—it wasn’t until I was going on tour that I got a band together. And those folks came along and recorded the second album with me. But this one, I’ve moved on again. I think the name Racine served as a way to separate myself from Transvision Vamp—there’s that thing, when someone goes solo after being in a band that’s had some success, where the legacy of the band kind of trails off after them. Racine was kind of a useful disguise, and a conduit to what I’m doing now, owning up to my name. Sometimes you have to be quite brutal and walk away from everything you’ve previously achieved.