Q&A With Christian L’Enfant Roi
I know you don’t want to hear it, but once again, my routine apologies for abandoning the blog in the past week! I am currently in the midst of researching and writing quite a big freelance article concerning the politics of Canadian fashion, so it’s taking the latter of my time. I’m also enjoying Toronto, and scoping out it’s fashion week as a comparison to Montreal’s and the international ones I’ve attended. I also have a terrible cold making it all a bit too hard for me at the moment. In any case, please enjoy some of my favourite Montreal talent – my Q&A with designer Christian L’Enfant Roi.
I first fell in love with his work attending Montreal fashion week where he showed as part of TRUSST’s collective… I hope you’ll see everything I do in him – read on…
- Your site shows a beautifully abstract creative art collaboration preview of Fall/Winter 2012… how did these graphics manifest, how do they relate to the collection, and what was the inspiration behind next seasons mood/technique?
FW12 is inspired by the Great North, the cold, the ice the winds and the landscape of this region. The idea of transposing “L’Enfant Roi” in the context of an indigenous people. As in previous collections, I want to co-exist and collaborate with local artists. Mathieu Fortin and I have been working together since I launched my line, and I owe a lot of Christian L’Enfant Roi’s visual impact and success to his wisdom. It seemed only natural for Mathieu and I to explore the idea of collage with one of my favourite artists Pier Yves Larouche. We wanted to bring a hint of Northern terrain without being to literal. Barefooted boys, in what seemed like a hybrid natural yet urban setting. Like the collection, it uses textures and colors from a Nordic ambiance.
- While we are on the subject of mood, last season you presented your Spring/Summer 2012 collection in a church! How did the environment change/add to the perspective of the collection? Does the location of the current season reflect your design vision?
Last season a church was a perfect backdrop both in acoustics and setting to showcase a collection that was inspired by opera and Oriental-ism. Soprano Singer Alyson Spina sang a piece composed specifically for SS12 by composers Nick Hyatt and David Lacalamita, so the acoustics were very important. St-Jean Baptist Church is a majestic venue that could have easily drowned out my collection. The space speaks for itself with it’s high ceilings, alter and low hung chandeliers. SS12 needed to fuse both sacred space and fashion while still remaining true to my inspiration and aesthetic – keeping it’s visual appeal.
Simply put; The SS12 presentation was all about flawlessly weaving my collection “into” a space. This season, FW12, is about taking a known social space and turning it into a specific landscape – creating a setting “around” my collection. The Eastern Block team was amazing, and let us take over the space to build a Northern-inspired landscape. We essentially created a new man-made home for my collection and the boys that would model it.
- Torben (above) would seem to be your muse and main model. How does he inspire you? How did you initially come to cross paths?
I met Torben while working with TRUSST club. He had essentially quit modeling after a successful career with Elite Models. He is, without a doubt, one of the Best models in Montreal at the moment. Aside from our romantic ties, I couldn’t imagine a better spokesperson for my brand. Besides modeling exclusively for me, he has taken a more direct role in the business and now holds more of an integral part of the labels day to day: a muse/assistant/spokesperson/model…
To be honest, when I create I always have a specific archetype in my mind. I know who I want to dress. Torben is a perfect example of who my client is, but I dress a lot of other men as well. I have been fortunate to work and dress a lot of amazing men in Montreal.
- You have a strong background when it comes to perfecting form. When beginning to develop your label how did you map out your brands aesthetic and manifesto?
When I started I knew I wanted to go against the trend of “all black” which was so strong in Montreal and around the fashion world at the time. I love colours, patterns and textures, and I believe the strength of my brand lies in the exploration of the ladder. I want to create clothes that are at once luxury and comfort. Luxury through natural fibers making my clothes look and feel expensive. Comfort in a boxy, more relaxed shape. I believe for “L’Enfant Roi” the key is to remain crisp in trend, but just perfectly dishevelled. I also knew that silhouette was key to shifting the perception of modern Menswear. I don’t know of any designer at the moment that explores the same balance between all these elements – making me stand out, and probably justifying the international coverage I have received.
- TRUSST club is an amazing collective that pushes and promotes upcoming and established artists – how did you get involved with them? On the note of fashion communities in Montreal, what are your thoughts on local fashion and the industry in general?
On a professional level, TRUSST club is a mecca for good work and forward thinking. When I created my brand they were more then essential in the primary stages of developing my image, and what I would stand for in the future.
On a more personal level, Andrew Ly and Melissa Matos are good friends with wonderful talent. I try to surround myself with talented people in every field. I think it makes for a more interesting dialogue and for a better well-rounded “gang”.
I believe Montreal is a good nesting ground for talent. I can think of at least one local designer that could make it on an international level. I think the majority of fashion here “works” on a local scale. Personally, I strive for a more international appeal. Needless to say, the fashion industry at large, is longing for new-blood and I intend to be part of that “new” direction.
- What is the single most important element of design in your minds eye?
I believe one has to have a clear direction and an identity. We need to know who/what we are buying into.
- Who would you consider amongst your top ten favourite designers?
Yves Saint Laurent is the pillar of design. Paul Poiret has always fascinated me, mostly because of the times he created in. On a more modern note: Stefano Pilati,Pheobe Philo,Kris Van Assche…
- What single piece of advice would you offer to start up independent designers just getting into the industry?
Get a day job.
- What is something people wouldn’t necessarily know about you or regularly assume?
I love fishing.
- What are you reading currently?
I rotate between re-reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and learning Danish with Rosetta Stone.
- Where do you see yourself this time, next year? Any upcoming special projects?
I want to expand to the European market. Boosting my sales points in Europe, and possibly showing in Copenhagen Fashion Week in the upcoming year.
- How can people connect with you (twitter? facebook?)
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, fashion show