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Crocodile Couture sums up the new level of invention during the venerable Haute Couture in Paris
Prepare thyself for Crocodile Couture or Haute Lacoste. Two of France’s greatest sources of fashion know-how, Lacoste and Lesage, will this weekend launch a brand new partnership – a fashionable marriage of Lacoste iconography and Lesage legendary skills of embroidery and needlepoint. The crocodile shakes hands with les petits mains. It’s a mini collection of eight looks, made in celebration of this year’s half-century anniversary of the first lady’s polo shirt.
On Sunday, the duo will unveil the eight looks, one each on eight different iconic women. From ballerina Marie Agnès Gillot in a green “ecological” tunic made of cotton piquet, mesh and pailette embroidered shards of plastic upon which is written Attention aux Crocodiles; to actress Karidja Touré – this year’s César du meilleur espoir feminin – in a white mini on which is inscribed Croc Dile Story, mimicking the graphics of West Side Story. Or there’s Laetitia Casta in baseball shirt featuring 27, the year the polo was invented. “It’s always good to do a project outside the habitual. It’s a very different way about talking about polos. We call it Polo Couture,” smiles Lacoste creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista.
Perhaps the most charming polo is the purple top featuring the first French sports superstar and company founder – René Lacoste – his face drawn in needlepoint, his hair composed of sky-at-night sequins; all surrounded by a sea of comic crocs.
Neoprene mini Pacmen fight it out with reptiles on other shirts; technical mesh materials encounter melted or mashed up croco; 70s disco, leather and vinyl and 3D camouflage. It being 2015, there is even the odd androgynous crocodile. Marriage pour tous even for Crocodylus niloticus.
Shirts also recall the famous mottos of René, like
“Playing and Winning Are Not Enough » – done in a beaded silver mariner. Or his insistence on gentlemanly behavior, like a huge Fair Play – made Plexiglas on a mini cape top, held on by glue and invisible thread. One polo has interior LEDs, so the shirt illuminates.
Starting in January, Oliveira Baptista went frequently to Lesage’s headquarters at Porte de Panini, working closely with with Muriel Lemoine, the great expert on the house’s remarkable archive.
“We found amazing elements from the 30s, like Vionnet samples beads and needle work. And from the 1980s when they began beading plastic.
We said, ‘let’s do one that is really tasteless.’ Tacky, just like the purple one!” he says, smiling at René’s jersey.
Each polo will be suspended in a set at Palais de Tokyo, close to a behind-the-scene video from the shoot by UK photographer Alasdair McLsellan. It’s to be published in trendy magazine titles, like The Reality, whose editor Tiffany Godoy first suggested the idea to Oliveira Baptista.
Fans will be able to purchase the Players couture polos, priced at between 6,000 euros to 8,000 euros. A limited edition of 100 versions of RTW versions of the concept is available next week, very reasonably priced at 150 to 200 Euros, seeing as they feature Lesage embroidery – from reptiles to Pacmen.
In a busy summer for the designer, he’s also just finished creating the uniforms for the French national team for next year’s Olympics. He has a great track record. Last year, athletes in Sochi voted France, again attired by Lacoste, as the best dressed team in the Winter Olympics. “It’s been funny to do couture and really technical sportswear at the same time!” smiled the famously modest designer.