For fall, Richard René tried his hand at upcycling. Scouring the Internet, he turned up a dozen Guy Laroche vintage pieces, and took a stab at it — or them.
René dipped a printed blue silk dress from the late Eighties in black ink, turning it into a blouse and paired it with high-waisted wool trousers, completing the look with a repurposed wool trenchcoat — from the Seventies this time — and adding a layer of patent leather fish scales. It looked good and felt modern.
Another dress, equally suitable for the era of office secretaries with hair-sprayed hairdos, was updated as a chic evening gown, the waist drawn in and the skirt stretched down, with fat strips of patent leather to add length.
He also found bolts of ivory, crepe fabric from the Seventies which he worked into new designs — the material clung to the body like a “Star Trek” suit, looking sleek and sensual as a jumpsuit, or a hip-hugging dress with prominent shoulders, but a bit awkward as a pleated skirt-blouse combo.
With no production — there hasn’t been in three years — and a limited budget, René’s experiment in upcycling has turned up a compelling proposition for a brand that has struggled over the years to find the right register.
“I took my sewing machine, I put it in my office, I bought the pieces…I dyed them, I cut them and sewed them back together. The idea was to spend the least amount of money possible,” said René. As simply as that, his experiment in upcycling has breathed new life into the the brand itself.