PARIS — French architect Nicolas Dorval-Bory specializes in spare, elegant designs that range from private residences (his first project was director Wes Anderson’s Paris apartment) to stores, including Maison Kitsuné’s largest location in the French capital.
Dorval-Bory is among 20 young architects and landscape architects whose work has been selected for the Albums des jeunes architectes et paysagistes, an event organized by France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication every two years to highlight the country’s most promising talents.
Earlier this month, his project for a house on Moheli, the smallest of the Comoros islands, was on display as part of the “AJAP 2016” exhibition at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, the museum of architecture and monumental sculpture located in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris.
Here, he tells WWD about his working wardrobe:
WWD: How do you dress now for work versus five years ago?
Nicolas Dorval-Bory: I dress quite casually for work and my style is fairly consistent, mainly due to lack of time. As a result, I don’t own a lot of clothes. Those I have are all fairly straightforward items that I’m very attached to. I very often wear a midnight blue suit with a pair of Reeboks. I only have white or light blue shirts, in cotton poplin or Oxford cloth, and generally a cashmere sweater. The biggest change I have made in the last five years is to stop wearing two former staples — the color black and Stan Smith sneakers — which I now wear only very occasionally.
WWD: What’s been the catalyst driving changing dress norms in your industry?
N.D-B.: Architects generally have very little time to devote to their hobbies and by extension, to their clothes. Our profession also means we usually work on fairly long-term projects, unlike people in the fields of graphic design and fashion, so I see dress norms evolving in slow but fundamental ways. Whereas several years ago some architects cultivated a measured exuberance, the majority today identify with a form of normcore or neutrality that is strongly linked to contemporary architectural concerns.
WWD: Who or what is the biggest influence on what you put on for work?
N.D-B.: I tweak my outfits very slightly, depending on whether I have appointments with clients and public events, or a day without appointments. The weather only affects my innerwear [underwear] and outerwear [coats], because I wear the same shirts, pants, sweater and jackets in summer as in winter.
WWD: Does what you wear affect your work in a substantial way?
N.D-B.: Some clients once admitted that they chose me over several other architects because I was wearing Repetto shoes.
WWD: Do you follow fashion trends, or prefer to stay true to your style?
N.D-B.: I prefer to stay true to my — fairly neutral — style, more out of necessity than anything else. I simply wouldn’t have the time to follow fashion trends.
WWD: Do you have favorite designers or brands?
N.D-B.: APC has always been a favorite for its aesthetic, its positioning and the talent of its founder, whom I sincerely admire. I have a personal link with the brand: in 2007, I worked for Laurent Deroo, the architect of the APC stores, and I have links to several people who have worked for the brand. I like Acne, which I find very elegant, and Maison Kitsuné, for whom I designed the store on Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire in Paris with Charles-Edmond Henry.
WWD: Given a choice, would you dress more formally or more casually?
N.D-B.: For me, it’s always about a mix, like pairing my blue suit with a pair of Reeboks.
WWD: What’s your favorite purchase of the last few months and why?
N.D-B.: A pair of wool mittens from Muji. I had stopped wearing gloves for a long time and I am rediscovering the joy of thermal comfort every time I put them on.
WWD: Do you spend more on clothes for work or play?
N.D-B.: Honestly, they are one and the same. I wear the same thing on evenings, weekends, holidays and at work, and since every item is very simple, I don’t really pay attention to how I coordinate them.