PARIS — Christian Lacroix is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a capsule collection designed by New York-based multimedia artist Brian Kenny.
Kenny, known for creating collage-inspired banners and flags, reinterpreted some of the house’s best-known scarf designs and patterns to create original artworks used on two dozen products including T-shirts, scarves, bags, cushions and phone covers.
Nicolas Topiol, chief executive officer of Christian Lacroix, said the celebration was designed to underline the activities of the house, which has focused on men’s wear, accessories and homewares since it went into administration in 2009.
“We feel at this point, with the recent history of the house, that we wanted to celebrate the past 30 years, but more importantly, the next 30 years,” Topiol said. “We really wanted to share the anniversary with the largest number of people possible.”
Available in limited quantities, the line will go on sale in early August at the Ron Robinson store in Santa Monica, Calif. Prices range from 12 euros for a small patch to 240 euros for a scarf.
“The U.S. has always been very important for the house of Lacroix. Obviously it’s a very French house and the roots are in couture, but at the same the U.S. press has supported Lacroix from the very beginning, because there’s an open-mindedness in the U.S. that sometimes you don’t find in France,” Topiol said.
“A big portion, if not the majority, of our clientele was U.S. customers,” he added.
Sacha Walckhoff, creative director of Christian Lacroix, said he came across Kenny on Instagram two years ago and felt a strong affinity with his work, which celebrates diversity.
“I thought it was nice to talk about the house through the eyes of somebody of another generation who’s discovering Lacroix,” he said.
“I didn’t want something Lacroix made by Brian. I really wanted him also to express who he is and his work, through the filter of Lacroix. I think we really reached the right balance,” he said.
“I think that the fashion and the art worlds are really brother and sister in the same creative family. There’s a lot of crossover,” he remarked.
“Lacroix actually is the perfect brand for me, because we have the same language. We’re both into the fantastical, the creative, the imaginative, pairing lots of different things together, kind of a maximalist approach,” Kenny said.
For the anniversary collection, he has reinterpreted a best-selling scarf design featuring couture sketches by Lacroix.
“Instead of women, it’s men and animals — so a bit cheeky — but also I’m trying to do something that wouldn’t intrude on what Lacroix did, but kind of add to it,” he said.
Lacroix, who rose to fame in the Eighties for opulent designs including the “pouf” skirt, is no longer involved with the label.
Topiol said it was unusual for the company, which has designed packaging for Evian, Chivas and Valrhona in recent years, to be the one commissioning art. “We felt that when we turned 30, it was time for us also to take the risk of having someone outside create for us,” he said.
The collection will be showcased in Paris in October to coincide with the launch of the brand’s e-commerce site.
“It’s something that is obvious nowadays, but in our case, because of the business model that we operate with partners and licensees, we actually are putting together something that has never been put together,” he said. “I wanted to have a whole 100 percent, 360-degree experience, where it’s the world of Lacroix with the products.”
In parallel, the brand plans to close its historic store on Place Saint-Sulpice in Paris at the end of July to test more focused concepts with pop-up stores.
It will celebrate the anniversary with a party on Wednesday night in the French capital. Walckhoff, who has been with the brand for 25 years, said the event was also a way of thanking everyone who has contributed to the turnaround of the label.
“It has not been easy to go from this amazing couture house to almost collapsing and then to rebuild something which is totally different from the couture house. It’s another kind of company but still with the same spirit,” he said.