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


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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.

Comments on "The Sartorialist Interviews Lucas Ossendrijver, of Lanvin Men's, for Holt Renfrew Magazine"


Blogger Relaunched said ... (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,


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:53 PM) : 

Great job.This just made my day.
Thank You


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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....


Blogger Brigadeiro said ... (6:05 PM) : 

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

Great job ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:16 PM) : 

Look Sart,

these last few sequences are among your best!

Keep it up, you have something very special going.




Blogger xoxorcs said ... (6:32 PM) : 

Love BC.


Blogger Interview-with-an-alien said ... (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.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:19 PM) : 

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


Blogger junglesiren said ... (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.


Blogger Laura said ... (7:29 PM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:14 PM) : 



Blogger MONI said ... (8:18 PM) : 

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


Blogger indigo warrior said ... (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.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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)


Blogger Agyesh said ... (9:49 PM) : 

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


Blogger Unknown said ... (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!


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (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


Blogger Agyesh said ... (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.



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:08 AM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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.


Blogger said ... (12:24 AM) : 

I am going to say it.

I think Alber Elbaz is adorable.

Send him link huh?



Blogger Unknown said ... (12:27 AM) : 

Great match, Holt Renfrew and Scott!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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.


Blogger the november princess said ... (12:53 AM) : 

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


Blogger Squally Reach said ... (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). :)


Blogger 50two said ... (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 :)


Blogger Lola-Elise said ... (3:08 AM) : 

Great interview. He seems so genuine..

visit me: lola-elise.blogspot


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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!


Blogger Henke S said ... (5:01 AM) : 

Elbaz and Ossendrijver are the best. Amazing duo

/H at


Blogger Pixienish said ... (5:16 AM) : 

Great interview!


Blogger Jack Daniel said ... (5:28 AM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:33 AM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:57 AM) : 

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


Blogger The Spicers said ... (10:16 AM) : 

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


Blogger stefanipappas said ... (10:33 AM) : 

Bill is so cute!


Blogger Lucy said ... (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...


Blogger Tiana Couture's Addict said ... (11:39 AM) : 

I'm the biggest Elbaz fan!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:50 AM) : 

LOVE the duck boots...! Don't see them much on this site!


Blogger Lucy said ... (1:30 PM) : 

Scott as I already told you I liked this interview so much...
I quoted and linked it on my blog!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:30 PM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:34 PM) : 

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

cheers from montréal


Blogger said ... (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!


Blogger The Beauty Mum said ... (6:28 PM) : 

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


Blogger Tristan said ... (7:33 PM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:57 AM) : 

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


Blogger Kal said ... (11:43 AM) : 

Great interview Scott!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:23 AM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:27 AM) : 

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

And Bill Cunningham is awesome, of course.


Blogger zincink said ... (7:50 AM) : 

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


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (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!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:23 PM) : 

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


Blogger Michele said ... (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.


Anonymous Kerry said ... (6:59 AM) : 

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


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