Movie Night with Louis W. for APC
On Thursday night, in the open lot alongside A.P.C.'s Sunset Boulevard boutique in Los Angeles, friends and fans joined the designer to watch these shorts and celebrate the collection. Before the party began, office sat down with Louis and asked him about the ideas behind his creations in fashion and film.
Your line was initially inspired by a spirit of rebellion—do you have a rebellious side?
I’m going to say something horribly cliché, but I think most people, if they want to do fashion, need to have a rebellious side. The point of fashion is to try to express something that’s a bit socially weird, or at least to move things a little bit forward. That’s my rebellious side. [laughs]. But so, for example with the work I create through A.P.C., there is always this mindset of trying to find something real, something realistic, something wearable, and at the same time pushing things with an idea behind them. So I think rebelliousness is an abstract idea, but yes, there is this side.
Where did you spend your younger years?
I was born in Malaysia, grew up there and then moved to France and studied the history of art, but always wanted to do fashion. I worked at Louis Vuitton, where I discovered the way to do luxurious clothing. But at the same time, I thought it was a bit too unreal, it wasn’t worn by anyone. So the thing that attracted me when I met Jean [Touitou, founder and creative director] and properly understood the concept of A.P.C., was that the clothes were extremely real and extremely wearable. As I walked around, I could see the clothes we designed on people, on the street next to us, and for me that was a huge difference, and something very exciting.
Your collections are inspired by cinema, and also inspire cinema itself—have you always been a cinephile?
I really like movies, I really like the way actors can express a character. I love the idea of characters. Also, let’s say you watch a movie from the 1980s—I always find that the fashion of a 1980s movie is much more interesting than a fashion show from the 1980s. I think that a movie can capture a time in a very aesthetic and real way. So that’s why Tom Cruise in the ‘80s, or even ‘90s skate movies for example, are all super inspiring, and they were two of the starting points of the brand.
The shorts also draw on older inspirations in cinema.
One of the main inspirations was French New Wave cinema. I find early French movies very iconic, because the stories are very simple, and they are very modern at the same time. It’s basically love stories. I think that in a short film you can say so much about a relationship, it’s kind of nice that each movie is about relationships. You have two boys, one girl…that works in many ways [laughs]. It’s the oldest story in the world, the love triangle. I guess every short is based on some love triangle, whether it’s girls and girls, boys and boys, or it’s all different. Visually it’s very interesting also, the idea that the girl wears the man’s jacket.
What I like about your films, and this is true of the French New Wave too, is that you put only so much out there, and then the audience is left to infer what means what.
Exactly, it’s left really abstract. And also I always thought fashion films sometimes are almost too aesthetic, they’re purely aesthetic, purely clothes. Me, I know that the first short film we did, you can barely see the clothes. They’re practically invisible, they’re in the dark. But I like this idea—yes, we’re a brand with clothing, but we’re not there to show every detail, it’s the atmosphere and the idea of a jacket.
Since the line’s debut, in what direction have you seen the collections progress?
I think it’s evolving, but I think the concept hasn’t changed a bit. The concept is strictly the same, it’s kind of this idea of one single person, a man, and this atmosphere around him. Kind of a loner, I’d say. The loner in the leather jacket. I think this character is still the same, it’s more the pieces that have changed. It started with only the leather jacket, and then for realistic reasons, I realized that doing a collection with ten leather jackets was perhaps not the most practical. So now I think I create a silhouette. It’s always the same type of character, the guy, the rough guy that you imagine with the big leather jacket, and there will always be a leather jacket, but now I create the whole silhouette and do various pieces. But still the same guy.
How did you develop the women’s jackets?
Let’s say that if I were a recording artist, the basic bomber in suede, the Ferris, that’s my big hit single. So we had to do that one for women too, I kept being asked about it. Not every girl likes to wear a men’s jacket, because you have to be quite tall and fat. [laughs] So yeah, we did a shrunk version.
What’s interesting is that with the first collection, with the bomber, there’s this sense of apathetic, insouciant cool. But then with one of the later collections you were inspired by the 1968 riots in Paris, which is quite an engaged, activist event. It seems like a contradiction, yet you can picture the same character in both scenarios.
It’s very funny you mention this right now, because one of my director friends is at NYU, and today he sent me an assignment he has to do, and the subject is the power of rebellion, and how it relates to the concept of escape. For me, there’s always the idea of escape. It’s the loner, and he wants to go away. But at the same time, I think the idea of rebellion matches completely, it’s just a different side of that. It’s paradoxical, because in rebellion you want to be a part of something, but the truth is that I think my character is quite immature. He wants to protest something…
But it’s more about him protesting than about the cause itself?
Exactly. Then he’s going to run away on his motorcycle. That’s the end of the rebellion. The guy, he wants to follow something, but in the end he just runs away. It’s Shia LaBeouf.
Interview by Marc Palatucci
Photos by Jennifer Rovero