PARIS — Nascent indie-rock act The Shoppings is out to prove retail therapy isn’t a ladies-only domain.
The French duo’s first fashion-fueled album, entirely home-recorded, was released in Europe last month. “We came up with our first track just mucking around by the pool at my house in Montpellier,” says guitarist David Lavaysse of the track “Comme Terry,” which glorifies the style of fashion photographer Terry Richardson, from his T.Rex T-shirts to his way with the ladies.
Lavaysse and singer Pascal Monfort met when Monfort was hired to style one of Lavaysse’s solo album covers in 2002. Monfort — who counts fashion lecturing, editing the once-yearly Yummy magazine and managing Nike France’s trend department among his day jobs — decided to spin his fashion know-how into lyrics and the two started experimenting on tracks.
“I see the songs as hyper-realism or Pop Art of sorts, made up of the typical exchanges one hears on a night out,” says Monfort, whose rapid-fire, rhyming couplets circumnavigate a laundry list of fashion banalities accompanied by tinny beats and Lavaysse’s growling, Slayer-tinged guitar. Take “La Valse des Baskets” (The Sneaker Waltz) that name-drops collector brands, or the agitated “Rien A Mettre” (Nothing to Wear), that lists the whines of a fashion victim with nothing new to wear.
The album’s already caught the ear of certain fashion figures. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, for example, logged onto The Shopping’s MySpace site and was recruited to star in the band’s first video, “Tu Fais Quoi dans la Vie?” (What Do You Do for a Living?”). In it, de Castelbajac plays the referee of a fashionable fight club, where models battle it out with Chanel bags, trussed up in Galliano Homme and towering Prada heels. “It’s all nails and hair and too much fashion,” jokes Lavaysse. They also recently recorded a track for the boutique Colette’s 10th anniversary, accompanied by a video starring Jeremy Scott.
However, the pair is determined not to end up on the catwalk karaoke circuit. “We’ve been approached by designers, but above all we’re a rock band,” says Monfort, a stocky ball of energy who likes to writhe around onstage.
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The pair’s differing dress code has also got fashion covered. Lavaysse typically sticks to an indie-sportswear diet: a Nike jacket, say, thrown over a T-shirt by his favorite U.S. rock band, “An Albatross,” and a pair of jeans by the French skater label Logo. Monfort, meanwhile, cuts a classier act in a tuxedo suit, Martin Margiela shirt and dapper patent leather shoes by Helmut Lang.
The group has gathered a female following. But a growing gaggle of fashion-conscious young men, says Monfort, have also been spotted in the crowd. “There’s a real fashion scene going on with French kids today, which is very much about pushing strong individual styles,” says Monfort. “There are loads of mini Pete Dohertys and young dandies running around town.”
The pair will soon be issuing customized Nike sneakers on their site, as well as other fashion goodies such as The Shoppings’ sweatshirts customized by French brand I Love Sweaters. “My dream would be to issue bottles of The Shoppings Champagne,” says Monfort.
But he’s resigned that the bubble will eventually burst. “In 10 years, we’ll be a distant blip on the landscape,” he muses. “But we like to think that those who listen to us again in the future will hear a snapshot of a fashion era.”