PARIS — Adam Andrascik, who is slated to stage his first runway show for Guy Laroche on Wednesday, said his main goal as the house’s new creative director will be to bridge the gap between two worlds, which at least at first glance have little in common: Laroche’s color- and body-conscious aesthetic with plunging necks and open backs on one side, and Andrascik’s darker, more masculine and overtly modern approach on the other.
But having turned the archives upside down and spent hours in the library looking for some intelligence on Laroche, a very low-key figure as he discovered, the designer said the two actually have more in common than people originally suspected.
“Something I found interesting is that he was one of the first Parisian designers to embrace the idea of separates. The American audience loved him for that. And I feel very comfortable in that kind of zone. He was so smart and good at understanding what his clients wanted and giving it to them,” Andrascik noted, adding that although his own approach is more conceptual, he would continue where Laroche left off in 1989, the year when he won the Golden Thimble with a collection he described as having “something weird and sinister and strange about it.”
Continuing on a similar note, the Central Saint Martins graduate kept his debut collection for the house almost entirely in black, except for a few metallic elements and occasional pops of burgundy, as seen on some of the leather pieces. Dominated by lean and linear silhouettes done in custom-made fabrics, the lineup will also include an upscale version of denim, borrowed from American sportswear — a first for the house en route to a new 21st-century aesthetic.
“I am totally aware of the fact that I’m taking it into a whole different direction — it’s a different customer,” admitted the Pennsylvania native, whose résumé includes stints at Proenza Schouler and Gucci. “But the idea behind it is modernity and relevance and how to make it more desirable and interesting with the roughness of my own line.”
After all, Laroche, who used to dress celebrities and socialites for the red carpet, was a risk-taker himself. “When I went through the archives, I found these shocking dresses, one he did for Mireille Darc for a film, really low in the back, and no one knows he was doing that; no one talks about that side to him. He took a lot more risks than people give him credit for, so I thought wow, amazing, we have a kinship here. He was really trying to make a statement, and I think we can build on that, but maybe in a more subtle way.”
Andrascik intends to take it slowly, steering clear of over-paying homage to the brand’s founder. Floor-sweeping evening looks and gaudy colors are something he wishes to explore moving forward, just not all at once.
There is also talk of a men’s collection, which at present is a licensee business and sold only in Southeast Asia. “If we decide to open up men’s, I would love to do it the way Alber [Elbaz] has done at Lanvin — bring in someone I can supervise with the vision and say: ‘Now build that into men.’ This would be easier than for me to learn how to design men’s clothes,” said the designer, who has put his own women’s wear label on hold this year to focus on the Guy Laroche assignment.
As long as the brand’s new codes are not fully defined, the business is taking a more down-to-earth approach as well, repositioning itself in a more affordable range. “The prices we are aiming for are to be 10 to 15 percent lower than they were previously,” Andrascik explained. “Our thinking was: Unless you are an absolute major player, it would be arrogant to charge [that kind of money].”