Monday, March 16, 2009

The Sartorialist Interviews Lucas Ossendrijver, of Lanvin Men’s, for Holt Renfrew Magazine

A Look At Lanvin
Fashion?s ?The Sartorialist? Scott Schuman sits down with Lanvin menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver for an exclusive one-on-one

Scott Schuman: Before a show, how nervous are you that you?ve made the right decisions?
Lucas Ossendrijver: I?m somebody who doubts quite a lot. In the beginning of a season, I follow a certain intuition. For me, that?s the only thing I really trust. I start with a feeling, I start with an emotion; I have this dream in my head that I start to visualize and it?s all about communication. Whether it?s the team who works with me or whether it?s a fabric manufacturer, I try to explain what I want. With fabrics, for me, I really have to see them, I have to touch them and then I know whether they?re right or not.

SS: So you always start with fabric?
LO: Yes, and then I want to make the fabric speak. You have to find the right colours. Every fabric has its own colour and they?re all different. There?s never the same navy for every fabric. There are always tonal differences, which I think makes colour much richer in the end.

SS: Your colours are incredibly interesting and you don?t do typical colour combinations. I watch your runway shows and think, ?Oh, wow, that?s great.? So it?s fabric, then colour?
LO: Then the shape at the same time, actually. It?s a bit like cooking: you have all of these ingredients and you sort of intuitively find the right way to make them work.

SS: Is there a lot of direction in terms of menswear that comes from what Alber Elbaz does for Lanvin women?
LO: Menswear is a different language than women?s. It doesn?t work the same way. Alber and I work separately, but sometimes we do have a similarity in colours we?ve developed. But, if you look closely, they are different.

SS: Are the Lanvin man and the Lanvin woman more like brother and sister or husband and wife?
LO: [Laughs] I think they?re more like brother and sister.

SS: Really? They have a more similar mentality?
LO: Yes, it?s just that the applications of it may be different. In menswear, there are so many boundaries and it?s about finding the right balance. You can start quite abstract and get experimental with an idea, but when the prototypes of the clothes arrive and I try all of them on to see if they feel believable or not, that is the real proposition and final judgment.

SS: Is there a particular modern man who represents the idea of someone you?d like to dress?
LO: No. That?s always a funny question because I find that really hard to answer.

SS: Is there a historical figure?
LO: I don?t know. I don?t have one role model or one sort of muse.

SS: Do you find that more freeing ? that you can change from season to season because you don?t have one subscribed muse?
LO: I think it?s about men in general and what they need. Sometimes people need to wear a suit, sometimes people need to wear a warm winter coat. It?s about finding solutions that are individual ? not standard.

SS: Do you find that your mood changes from season to season yet, still, underlying the idea of what you do, there?s a common thread?
LO: When I start a collection, it?s all very abstract. It?s much more about technique and intuition. This season, with the elastic, I was very into sportswear but trying to redefine it and not make it just ?sport? but a hybrid between tailoring and sportswear. I need some kind of newness in what I do so I can try to bring in different elements that meld together.

SS: A lot of designers will shop vintage stores for ideas and techniques. Do you find yourself doing that?
LO: In the studio, we have sewing machines and we mix swatches; we work with clothes we find and with prototypes from seasons before. We cut them, we change them and it?s very hands-on. To be honest, I hardly ever draw a collection. I always work directly on the clothes.

SS: When you were little did you want to be a menswear designer?
LO: No, I went to art school. It wasn?t until I bought a hand-tailored jacket at a flea market and opened it up and found the construction inside that I became fascinated with menswear because it?s all about something hidden inside and the construction.

SS: How do you define a successful season ? sales numbers? Artistic goals?
LO: It?s both. The press are important, but you?re getting judged by them for 10 minutes and, afterward, you get judged by the people who buy and wear the clothes. I think both are connected and both are important because you try to push forward and to make things people will like.

SS: How has the house of Lanvin influenced your work on menswear, if at all?
LO: The funny thing is there?s a huge archive for womenswear: books with embroideries, sketches, fabrics ? everything, but for men?s, there is zero. For me, that was very liberating; you can start from zero. The only thing that is there is the made-to-measure department, which I?m really proud of. So when I started, I would go up to see the tailors and see how they work.

SS: How important should accessories be to men?
LO: I think they?re very important, especially for men. An accessory is an item you can buy quite easily and you can go a little bit further with it in terms of style without losing yourself. Also, a suit and a tie can be very different if the tie?s knitted, for example. It?s different without being extreme ? [insert a space here] it looks like a tie, but it?s soft and less rigid.

SS: Lanvin is one of the top men?s collections there is now, one of the most directional. Is there something bigger you?d like to say about menswear?
LO: The way I started was an experiment, really. It wasn?t about a strategy. My team and I did what we thought was right. We did what we liked and we still do. In that sense, I feel very free. At the same time, now that it?s becoming bigger, it?s a bit scary. But what I hope to do is to continue the freedom. I think there?s still lots to do.

Discover the Lanvin Spring 2009 menswear collection only at Holt Renfrew?s Toronto Bloor Street and Vancouver stores and through 1-866-Holt-Renfrew (1-866-465-8736).

PS – It was really fun doing this interview with Lucas. I was pretty happy with the questions I asked, and it is so much easier to do an interview when someone else transcribes your conversation (thanks Holts). I also loved getting to do the interview and take the portrait (I am an American multi-tasker). Hopefully I will get a chance to do more of these in the future.

Here is an article that ran about Alber Elbaz last week in The New Yorker.
And by coincidence here is a link to a great article about Bill Cunningham in the same issue.


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  1. Jérôme

    March 16, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you… You couldnt imagine how i missed the interviews. And then “LANVIN”! That is more than fantastic.

    The old Scott is back ;-)

    A bientôt,

  2. Maud

    March 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    i don’t think it was that much of a coincidence, it was the style issue.

    grea interview, and as always, brilliant pictures.

    i just saw some of your work on garance’s site – asdjhgfdsgkjh i love you both individually, but together, you’re a menace!

    love always, from Montréal!

  3. Anonymous

    March 16, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Great job.This just made my day.
    Thank You

  4. Anonymous

    March 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I love what Lucas has brought to men’s style with Lanvin,
    But what attracted me ultimately disappointed. After wearing my suit twice, the centre back seam on the trousers started dragging . Despite bringing it back for repair, it continued to split. With such great shapes, its unfortunate that we have to compromise on the fundamentals of tailoring and the reality of solid fabrics.

    Still, I wish him well, and hope that Mr Sart will spend more time on the left bank in future….

  5. Brigadeiro

    March 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    This is brilliant! Great questions, and such insightful answers! Complete with a lovely portrait!

    Great job ;)

  6. Anonymous

    March 16, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Look Sart,

    these last few sequences are among your best!

    Keep it up, you have something very special going.



  7. Rosanna

    March 16, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Love BC.

  8. Vivre-La-Renaissance

    March 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    This piece is really interesting and helpful. Interesting to see how he takes materials and simply creates a look from what feels right, it’s so not what you’d expect.

  9. Anonymous

    March 16, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Great interview…an aside though, Holt Renfrew is spelt incorrectly in the post title.

  10. junglesiren

    March 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    That shot of Ossendrijver and Elbaz is charming. They are so different looking from one another.

    The artistic process so varies form person to person (and medium to medium). I’m always interested in whether the egg or the chicken comes first for them. I’m sure that, as with most artists I know, including myself, the starting point is always different on every project. He starts with fabric on one season, then another, I’ll bet, starts when he sees some guy wearing a jacket cut in an unusual way – bam! Idea!

    I think it’s interesting that the men’s and women’s lines aren’t something more of a co-op. I would’ve never thought to ask about that.

    Good job, amigo.

  11. Laura

    March 16, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    thanks for giving a shout out to Canada!!! Come visit soon!

  12. Anonymous

    March 16, 2009 at 8:14 pm


  13. M A Z P E

    March 16, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    amazing, wonderful interview. This man is down to earth and natural, we need more people like this in the fashion industry.

  14. indigo warrior

    March 16, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Thank you for the interview. Since I really don’t read a lot of fashion anything (it’s you and Vogue) I don’t have a lot of exposure to information like this. I’m more a textiles kind of girl. Things he said made me smile though. I could hear myself (or any knitter/weaver/quilter I know) saying some of the things he said. It makes me feel more comfortable with the 83+ miles of yarn in my stash and who knows how much fabric. You just get to know the yarn or fabric and it evolves into something else. What a joy.

  15. Greg (ClothingMadeRight)

    March 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this interview. Lanvin menswear has hit one home run after another the last few years and it’s great to get this kind of an inside look into its operations.

    However brilliant their clothes may be, though, I have to admit I had the same experience as Anonymous with their tailoring. I had a pair of Lanvin pants absolutely shred on me about a year ago…there wasn’t anything to be done for them. It seems a shame that such great designs would be so poorly constructed.

    By the way, I agree with you, Sart, that the questions were well-chosen…they were creative and they elicited a lot of interesting information. I can’t wait to see how you chat with next!

  16. Anonymous

    March 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    you have to love Bill Cunningham! I look forward to seeing his work and love his voiceover. it’s like being able to have tea with him (obviously not exactly but it is a treat all the same)

  17. Agyesh Madan

    March 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Nice on Scott. I couldn’t find the other two articles you mentioned though. They do not seem to be linked.

  18. Ryan

    March 16, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Great to see the diversification Scott. My only question for you is when are you finally going to come and shoot in Canada? It is Toronto Fashion Week now. You are more then invited!

  19. -h

    March 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Great pictures. The one of him and alber is adorable of course. I think my favorite question is about the lanvin man/woman being either being married or siblings. i sometimes think to myself about this when a line does both men and women’s wear.

    -ps. i dont think the other articles are linked…

  20. The Sartorialist

    March 16, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    the links work for me

    the link is on the word “here” and it is highlighted in orange

    do you not see that?

    maybe it is your settings?

    I’m curious

    thanks Scott

  21. Agyesh Madan

    March 16, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Ahhh… Now I got it. It only turns orange if you hover over the “here”.

    Thanks again.

    Also, thanks Maud. Had no clues of Scott’s collaboration with Garance Dorè.

    Good Stuff.


  22. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Great work Scott! Very interesting interview. I love Alber Elbaz so thanks for the link. Execellent :)

  23. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 12:11 am

    If you put your curser on “here” it lights up, otherwise it’s not highlit so your readers won’t know just by looking.

  24. [email protected]

    March 17, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I am going to say it.

    I think Alber Elbaz is adorable.

    Send him link huh?


  25. Aisha

    March 17, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Great match, Holt Renfrew and Scott!

  26. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 12:32 am

    I was able to find the links, but I think Agyesh Madan didn’t because the linked “here” is initially black like the rest of the text. It’s only orange after clicking. Hope this helps.

  27. theozoologie

    March 17, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Interesting interview, thanks for posting. Nice portrait, too!

  28. Squally Reach

    March 17, 2009 at 1:21 am

    I love Holt Renfrew. You ought to check out Obakki and M0851 the next time you are in Vancouver. Two very special Canadian shops (and no, I’m not affiliated). :)

  29. 50two

    March 17, 2009 at 1:39 am

    before i went to school i tried to read this entry but it didnt work. it does now and im so glad i remember to go back and read it.

    i love reading interviews like this so much. thanks :)

  30. Lola-Elise

    March 17, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Great interview. He seems so genuine..

    visit me: lola-elise.blogspot

  31. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 3:55 am

    what are those shoes that this ‘lucas ossendrijver’ cat is wearing??? they’re like the love child of red wing boots and nike uptowns…i must know!

  32. Henke S

    March 17, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Elbaz and Ossendrijver are the best. Amazing duo

    /H at

  33. Pixienish

    March 17, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Great interview!

  34. Jack Daniel

    March 17, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Hey Scott. Great interview. Inspires me to do the same!

  35. suzanne nelson

    March 17, 2009 at 5:39 am

    I love the photos! the portrait of Mr Ossendrijver is beautiful, i love how the pale blue shirt works.
    The interview is interesting. Mr Ossendrijver’s design process is clearly quite abstract and cerebral but your questions led him to elucidate. A number of designers don’t sketch but many work with visual images as inspiration putting together a ‘mood board’; carefully arranging and juxtaposing images on a wall in the studio etc. To work directly with clothes strikes me as a luxury smaller designers simply couldn’t afford. It’s good that some can work this way, increased experimentation leads to greater diversity.

  36. Emily

    March 17, 2009 at 6:05 am

    It was quite an interesting one-on-one. I think it's rather difficult to do a men's line. The very fist thing needed is a strong intuition. And rightly said, not all colours would go along with every fabric. A careful thinking & study is a must before you set out to do a men's line.

  37. ghazi

    March 17, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Menswear designer for Lanvin!!? Wearing THAT shirt?! I don’t get it!

  38. Catherine like Deneuve

    March 17, 2009 at 8:02 am

    I adore Bill Cunningham. I would love to ride bikes with him around NYC. I can’t wait for the weekends, to hear him chatter about what’s going on. His voice is just so New York, the New York of black and white movies (maybe Breakfast at Tiffany’s era?). And he has great taste. Lovely sense of humor, and always very correct and proper. You know he’s been around the block, but he always has this sense of childlike wonder at the newness of fashion.
    Of course I love you, too, Sart!

  39. catherine

    March 17, 2009 at 8:57 am

    good interview, we can know he start only with fabric, all is not communication marketing. And his team work is efficient!

  40. Iheartfashion

    March 17, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Loved this year’s NYer style issue, especially the profile of “fashion oblate” Bill Cunningham and his ascetic life.

  41. Stefani

    March 17, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Bill is so cute!

  42. Lucy - The Fashion Setter

    March 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I really enjoyed reading this interview… it was so isteresting because you asked questions about his modus operandi. The great attentions for fabrics, colours and shapes is fascinating!
    I love the answer he gave to your question about his dreams as child…

  43. Tiana Couture's Addict

    March 17, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I’m the biggest Elbaz fan!

  44. Tyrone

    March 17, 2009 at 11:50 am

    LOVE the duck boots…! Don’t see them much on this site!

  45. jake

    March 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    please come to toronto/ canada soon we really do live in an amazing country and you will love it

  46. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    i loved the article i read it when Holts send out the preview books are you going to post the interview with Alber as well?

  47. Heather Toronto

    March 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Holts! Canada! :) :)
    Scott, please come to Toronto! I think fashion here is severely under estimated and I know you would do a superb job of capturing it.
    Please keep up the great work.

  48. Anonymous

    March 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    great interview! love holt’s…and soooo happy to see colour spelled with a U !!!

    cheers from montréal

  49. Gabriela

    March 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Great post!!! I adore Alber Elbaz, not only his work but also the great character that he is, he must have such a great and interesting perosnality -I wish I kew him personally!

  50. donna AND navaz

    March 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Ace interview. And I like Lucas Ossendrijver’s jeans!

  51. Tristan

    March 17, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I liked how he talked about the boundaries in menswear, women have more to play with man.

  52. LettertoJane

    March 17, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Great interview, I especially liked how he went into the cooking analogies of starting with fabric, color, and shape. It really illustrated how all the different senses go into fashion.

  53. hkp

    March 18, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Great article and fantastic photos! I loved his comment on “making the fabric speak”!

  54. Kal

    March 18, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Great interview Scott!

  55. Anonymous

    March 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Speaking of Lanvin, I wish you would photo Alber more. I have a mini crush on him.

  56. Linh

    March 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Great pic of Mr. Cunningham. He is simply MAHVAHLAS! I adore him. Mr. Elbaz is pretty endearing too.

    These pics really made my day!

  57. Anonymous

    March 21, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Damn. He’s so pretty. Ascot, that is.

    And Bill Cunningham is awesome, of course.

  58. zincink

    March 21, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I love Mr. Cunningham. I look for his piece every week. A great gentleman and all around good spirit.

  59. Anonymous

    March 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    My God! I have found a mentor in Mr. Cunningham! I admire his ethics.

    Scott, when will you ever come to Toronto? Won’t you come soon!

  60. Anonymous

    March 26, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Where can I find Lucas Ossendrijver’s pair of shoes ? is this Nike ?

  61. Michele

    April 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    also want to thank you for these interviews – they are a great addition to your site – i enjoy them. and it’s fun to see more comments here from you on your images and the clothing. keep going please.

  62. Kerry

    April 12, 2010 at 6:59 am

    So glad to see Maine L.L. Bean boots making an appearance here! REPRESENT!

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