Officine Générale is a men’s wear label that also does clothing for women, Pierre Mahéo will tell you. His focus is tailoring, which he adjusts handsomely for women, and the offer this season included a classic beige trenchcoat, revisited, in technical fabric; pin-striped suit jackets; pleated pencil trousers, and a rich selection of skirts and dresses. Elegant, in a relaxed way — a satin skirt had an elastic waistband and was paired with a men’s shirt of the same material — but not too breezy.
“A woman has a lot more responsibilities than a man, because she always has to do more to gain equality with men,” he said, referring to daily life — domestic and professional.
“I use very nice fabric for the men’s wear, so why would I do differently for women?” he added, surveying the collection. He began ticking off materials he considers staples — silk, linen, cotton, Japanese twill — before settling on a pale blue button-up shirt. Its sharp collar anchored the ultra-lightweight top — cotton with a touch of linen. Further down the rack, past a suit made of an original-looking shadow plaid Prince of Wales fabric, and past the stretchy suede miniskirt, he fished out a cotton T-shirt made with just a touch of silk. The coronavirus crisis has prompted a surge in bicycle traffic in the French capital and here Mahéo solved one of the city’s most vexing challenges — how to remain stylish while cycling in a downpour. He offered a long, waterproof poncho that unsnapped on each side. He’s tired of seeing friends turn up to dinners soaked to the skin.
“It’s incredible, come on guys, get yourself some technical clothing,” he insisted.
Working on prints, the idea is to give them some meaning, and the label drew up a floral motif drawn up from artwork by Georgia O’Keefe.
With much of the world on pause, overcome with crisis, the fashion industry needs to find the right register — and that doesn’t mean forcing things with catwalk shows, in his view.
“Fashion is not disconnected from the world — it needs to be in phase with the world,” Mahéo insisted. What do consumers want? Value and decency, was his suggestion.