Wednesday 20 December 2017

New Christian Lacroix Capsule Collection by Artist Brian Kenny

Christian Lacroix Creative Director Sacha Walckhoff with New York artist Brian Kenny strike a pose in Paris wearing pieces from the new BK x CL collection.Picture (above) by Gregoire Alexandre. Cover image by Kseniya Segina
The House of Christian Lacroix celebrates its 30th anniversary with a limited edition capsule collection by New York multimedia artist Brian Kenny. Along with the latest collection, the company has a new digital commerce platform, with collections available online for the first time. Jeanne-Marie Cilento talks to Christian Lacroix Creative Director Sacha Walckhoff about the French brand's new directions

Artist Brian Kenny with Christian Lacroix
CEO Nicolas Topiol in Paris, launching the
 new collection. Photo: Elli Ioannou 
In the thirty years since the French luxury house Christian Lacroix was founded in 1987, the fashion world has been through several revolutions and the storied label has had to sail through choppy waters. Yet creative director Sacha Walckhoff has managed to steer the Parisian maison with a steady hand and a clear vision for the future. The designer had worked closely with Christian Lacroix at the Paris atelier for 17 years before the couturier left the company in 2009 and Mr Walckhoff took the helm.
With a strong background in interior design and working as a designer himself with different companies, Mr Walckhoff has been able to broaden the Christian Lacroix range.

For inspiration, he draws on his deep and extensive knowledge of the history of fashion and his private collection of antique textiles and contemporary art to create new accessories and interior design products that combine the original, vivid Lacroix aesthetic with a real feeling for the zeitgeist. Under Mr Walckhoff's creative direction the brand has grown to include designs for men's fashion, accessories and interiors.

 Sacha Walckhoff's creative direction combines the vivid Christian Lacroix aesthetic with a strong feeling for the zeitgeist

 BK x CL Lacroix Sweetie Scarf,
part of the new capsule collection.
 Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
Designer Christian Lacroix originally launched his young fashion house from an atelier in Paris to worldwide acclaim with Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The concept was to start with haute couture, at the apex of the luxury pyramid, and develop from it a range of ready-to-wear apparel, accessories and fragrances. Christian Lacroix became known for collections full of vibrant colours, mixing lively patterns and experimenting with fabrics. Mr. Arnault sold Lacroix in 2005 to the Falic Group who sought to refocus the luxury brand.

Today, Sacha Walckhoff has utilised the rich Lacroix archive to build the maison's expansion into interior design, women's accessories and menswear fashion collections. The latest capsule collection is another new direction for the brand with Mr Walckhoff bringing in New York City based artist Brian Kenny. The flamboyant American multimedia artist has been able to play with the evocative Christian Lacroix designs to create a unique, limited edition collection with a Pop abstraction leitmotif that still reflects the spirit of the French label. Called simply BK x CL, Mr Walckhoff says the collection aims to celebrate diversity and freedom, still drawing inspiration from the past but looking to the future. He had been aware of Brian Kenny's work for more than a decade but they only got together in person at his studio in New York last year.

Artist Brian Kenny with his new cushion designs
for Maison Christian Lacroix.
Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
"I knew of his work from a few years ago, he was a kind of "muse" for underground artist Slava Mogutin back in the early 2000s," Mr Walckhoff says from his atelier in Paris. "Brian went on to develop his own style during those years and I had the chance to visit his studio last year in Long Island and was impressed by his work ~ its richness and also the way he expresses strong opinions in a positive way, colourfully and also with humour.

"I thought it would be quite a challenge to ask a man of his generation to work on the celebration of a brand which was created when he was a child, but the result was beyond expectations. Brian really injected his energy and spirit into this lovely project and by doing so has introduced a new generation to the Lacroix experience."

Mr Walckhoff says Brian Kenny is able to blend genres and transcend artistic contradictions to create work that is at once joyful and expansive but also with an edge of the subversive. As an artist Brian Kenny worked closely with the label, reinterpreting classic Lacroix designs and patterns through his own kaleidoscopic vision.

Brian Kenny blends genres and transcends artistic contradictions to create joyful work with a subversive edge

The surreal Helping Hand men's tote bag by
Brian Kenny for Christian Lacroix
Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
There is a long history of strong cultural and artistic dialogue between the cities of Paris and New York. And this is reflected in the BK x CL collection that retains the Lacroix colour palette but has new figures that relate more to grittier Street Art and Pop than the original floral Lacroix eclecticism. "Paris and New York have always been strongly bound by the arts and cultures of each city," explains Mr Walckhoff. "While Paris is into tradition, New York is much more into novelty. It was the American collectors, at the beginning of the 20th century ,who bought Renoir, Degas, Manet or Picasso paintings long before they were recognised by the French.
"Paris is fascinated by the new ideas and the young spirit of the New York scene. While New York is always honoured when Paris recognises the talents of the Big Apple: Paris represents the universal "art city" for the entire world." Mr Walckhoff says he also shares a similar world view and philosophy with Brian Kenny that they wanted to express in the new collection for Christian Lacroix.

"We have the same values as Brian, we believe in an open minded society where everyone has the same rights and where each person should respect the liberty of others … which is still something the world has to work on!" One of the key pieces in the capsule collection is a reimagined design by Christian Lacroix. "Brian revisited the famous scarf "le Défilé" that Christian himself designed a long time ago, sketching a new version of it, full of humour. Each couture silhouette which wwas once the "cat walking" designs on the scarf are now guys or animals wearing Couture, echoing the "love who you want " notebook I did a few years ago too."

 "Paris is fascinated by the new ideas and young spirit of the New York scene. While New York is always honoured when Paris recognises the talents of the Big Apple"

The launch party for the BK x CL collection
at L'Exception, with DJs Doppelgänger Paris
 Photo: Elli Ioannou
Maison Christian Lacroix's celebratory capsule collection with Brian Kenny is made up of 35 different pieces ranging from tote bags, scarves, sweatshirts to notebooks, t-shirts, cushions, pins and patches. The designs have an appealing vibrancy created by both the pop of brilliant colour and Brian Kenny's startling figural compositions of colourful giraffes in pink and green with a yellow ruff and black and white corsets and stubbly men in A-line skirts.

Asked if he has a favourite piece in the new capsule collection, Sacha Walckhoff replies: "I love the sweat shirts and the big tote bag …I'm using them all the time!" Last month, set designer Hervé Sauvage created a special pop-up shop window at L'Exception flagship store in Paris which showed the BK x CL collection for the first time from the ready-to-wear pieces to lifestyle accessories. A lively party was held at L'Exception to celebrate the launch of the collaboration with Brian Kenny and Maison Christian Lacroix and sold out immediately.

A digital transformation of the company and the launch of the Christian Lacroix online platform is also part of the new direction for the brand. The BK x CL collection is available in limited editions for the first time along with the menswear, woman’s accessories, and the lifestyle collection and the full range of luxury products. Nicolas Topiol, the CEO of Maison Christian Lacroix, says it is a new, more direct way to connect with customers of the House: "With the launch of our digital commerce platform, we are looking to expand our distribution and be in contact with our customers. Christian Lacroix is an iconic luxury brand famous for its initial disruption of the Eighties fashion scene bringing vibrant colors and mix and match of fabrics, patterns and inspirations to a then monochrome fashion world."

Mr Walckhoff hopes the launch of the e-commerce site will bring new people to the label. "We want to be able to reach a bigger audience and to be able to reach our customers directly all around the world. This is surely something positive which was missing from the Christian Lacroix brand. It is a bit early to see how it will impact our brand but I hope it will be for the best!"

Tap photographs for full-screen slide-show
 Lacroix Sweetie! tote bag with its designs of fantastical figures and silhouettes that is part of the BK x CL capsule collection that Brian Kenny designed for Christian Lacroix. Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
 Large limited-edition Liberty Parade scarf designed by New York based artist Brian Kenny in linen and silk with a mix of genres and pop abstraction. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

New t-shirt with the colourful giraffe in pink and green drawn by Brian Kenny. Called Lacroix, Sweetie!, it has an oversized fit with short sleeves and a round collar. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

The new Lacroix Sweetie scarf with its anthropomorphic characters wearing couture created by Brian Kenny.
The artist has designed this square, printed silk twill scarf with bright colours and playful graphics. Photograph by Gregoire Alexandre

Multimedia artist Brian Kenny Strikes a Dadaist pose in Paris with the new BK x CL collection. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre
 The surreal new earrings enamelled in pink, white and black designed for the BK x CL capsule collection that celebrates Christian Lacroix's 30th anniversary. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

The vividly-hued new Jardin Secret Notebooks with a lively mix of drawings and designs by Brian Kenny, part of the limited edition collection. Photograph by Gregoire Alexandre

Together Wristlet, this zip-up clutch is part of  the Brian Kenny x Christian Lacroix capsule collection and features a black and white chevron strap and printed "Bosquet" interior lining. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

The tooth motif on this iron-on embroidered patch is multimedia artist Brian Kenny’s favourite theme. This limited edition piece is part of the collection that celebrates the French House’s 30th anniversary. Photograph by Gregoire Alexandre

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