PARIS — Anthony Delon is a great believer in second chances.
The actor and son of French screen legend Alain Delon has had his share of tough breaks. A staple of French celebrity gossip magazines, he is ready to write a new chapter with the relaunch of his namesake line of leather jackets, which enjoyed a successful but brief run in the Eighties.
The Anthony Delon 1985 collection, featuring jackets for men and women inspired by classic movies, is set to go on sale exclusively at the Printemps de l’Homme department store in Paris on January 18. The pop-up shop will remain open for three months.
“I decided to keep ‘1985’ in the name to bring me luck second time around,” said Delon, explaining that he was forced to halt the original line after two years due to problems with his business partner. This time around, he has joined forces with a friend of 20 years with experience in the luxury sector.
Embroidered on the clothes’ tags, alongside the founding year of the label, is the Japanese proverb: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Delon, who in his young wild days had run-ins with the law, said it reflects his resilience and belief that each hurdle crossed is a learning experience.
“Is it planetary, is it the context — who knows? You have to wonder, because sometimes all the lights are red, and other times, they are all green,” the 53-year-old mused.
This time around, all the chips appear to be falling into place. Delon developed the line in record time, presenting the first prototypes last year with a celebrity-filled party at Paris multibrand store Montaigne Market, less than five months after deciding to revive the project.
Leather feels like a natural medium to him. “I fell in love with leather jackets at a very young age, and I realized that leather, unlike fabric, ages with you,” he explained. “It’s a bit like a second skin. That was what initially interested me, and I think leather is sensual. I like the way it smells, so it’s a bit of everything.”
Delon, who is president and majority owner of his label, takes a hands-on approach to design. Trying on the different models — inspired by actors like Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen, and movies including “Mean Streets” and “Blade Runner” — he points out every feature with an expert eye.
He singles out the ribbing on the sides of the Antho, whose name is inspired by his childhood nickname, or the kidney-shaped pocket on the Loup biker jacket, christened after one of his three daughters. “These days, pretty much everything has been done in leather, so the difference is in the details,” he explained.
There are 16 basic models in all — 11 for men and five for women — and Delon plans to add small leather goods soon, with an eye to developing other wardrobe pieces, like pants and dresses, in a year or two.
He handpicked the manufacturer, a factory in France that works with leading luxury brands, though he has decided to sit the collection, targeted at men aged 25 to 50, at a slightly lower price point. Men’s jackets retail between 1,400 and 1,500 euros, while the women’s designs are priced from 1,150 euros to 1,270 euros.
Delon wants the products to be accessible to people who may know him as an actor, and doesn’t feel it would be justified to charge the same amount as a designer label.
“I’m a film actor and I design, but I’m not Yves Saint Laurent. Not yet, at any rate,” he said with a laugh. “However, quality is essential to me. So I racked my brains to make top-quality jackets, but at a more accessible price. We don’t have the same margin either. That’s a choice.”
For instance, the Aspen jacket in nubuck goatskin features horn buttons made by a company that also supplies Hermès and Chanel, Delon said. “Look at these buttons — that’s haute couture. Not a single one is the same,” he noted admiringly.
He plans to roll out the line selectively, beginning with Montaigne Market when the store reopens next month at a new address. Though his career has been mainly in television, Delon believes his notoriety will be a plus, namely in Asia. Just don’t compare him to other celebrities who have branched out into fashion.
“There are tons of American actors and actresses who give their names to clothing lines or sneakers,” he said. “Except that I design my jackets myself. I do everything. I start with an idea, I design the jacket, I choose the leather, the zips. I can tell you everything about how each piece is made.”
To wit: Delon spent four hours sanding the leather on the Rock biker jacket, which he plans to make available in a limited edition. “I’m going to make 52 by hand. I will make them myself, so they will be a little more expensive,” he said.
The new pieces are a little more fitted than the ones he made in the Eighties, but one thing hasn’t changed: Delon remains the face of his brand and has been touched by the positive response among industry professionals in his native country.
“France was not my priority and I was surprised to find that it was almost self-evident: everyone remembered the collection from 1985,” he said.
He’s put his acting career on hold to focus on the venture, which has given him a fresh sense of purpose. “I’m trying to create the jackets of my dreams,” Delon said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, but this collection is a bit like a renaissance.”