21st June, 2012
“I was a minimalist guy, but working for Mr. Lacroix you can’t be minimalist,” explains Sacha Walckhoff, and since taking the position of Creative Director three years ago he taken the theatrical sensibilities of Lacroix and transcended them into modern masculine menswear.
From collections inspired by the Buffalo youth culture of the 1980s to the pattern of birds migrating during the winter, Walckhoff has turned the brand’s focus to menswear and was responsible for showcasing the first ever Lacroix men’s runway show for the AW11 collection. He worked alongside Mr. Christian Lacroix for seventeen years until his departure in 2010, and insists that his philosophy of making a statement is still very much embedded in Lacroix’s future. Perhaps most evident in his AW12 collection, where Walckhoff reintroduced the symbol of the cross, a longstanding signature of Lacroix (‘la croix’ literally means ‘the cross’) and used it to heavily embellish the back of patent jackets and adorn t-shirts with crucifix badges. As we await his next collection in a few days time, we asked Walckhoff to look back at his memories of Mr. Lacroix and evolution of the ‘Lacroix Man’.
Isabella Burley: Do you remember the first time you encountered Mr. Christian Lacroix?
Sacha Walckhoff: Yes, it was in July 1992. We met at the Faubourg Saint-Honoré studio in Paris. We talked a lot about the French writer Jean Genet, and his book Le Journal d’un Voleur, about his life in Barcelona. I was almost 30 years old and I felt like my life was going to change totally… and it did.
IB: What has been your greatest memory from that time?
SW: The cover of W magazine with Nicky Taylor wearing one of the dresses I created for my first season at Lacroix.
IB: What did you learn from working with Mr. Lacroix?
SW: To be open-minded.
IB: Do you miss working with him?
SW: It was a wonderful time and I have no regrets.
IB: Since taking on the role of creative director, how do you feel the ‘Lacroix man’ has evolved? Menswear seems to be freer than ever…
SW: Well, menswear is freer than ever, but are the men themselves so free? I am not so sure. So, I try and find the right balance.
IB: Lacroix is best known for its art of embellishment and its ability to create a statement. How do you think that sensibility relates to modern day menswear?
SW: From the beginning we tried to adapt the ideas we had to make them useful for the menswear collections, instead of adapting menswear to our ideas… and this is a big change in the Lacroix philosophy.
IB: How would you describe the modern ‘Lacroix man’ in three words?
SW: He is a worker, an artist and a lover.
IB: What is your first point of reference when you begin a new collection?
SW: We focus on the clothing, but the fittings are everything to me.
IB: For AW12 there was a return to the symbol of the cross, a longstanding theme in Lacroix’s history. How did the use of the cross first come about? And how has it evolved in the newer collections?
SW: Well, thanks to a friend, I found these amazing books about Sicilian costumes. There were a lot of crosses, and of course, we had a lot of them in the archives too. So, it was a kind of obvious moment to do it… crosses are part of our DNA but the next season they won’t be so obvious!
IB: What were the influences behind that AW12 menswear collection? (It reminded me of the Buffalo period of 1980s youth culture, Ray Petri, The Face…)
SW: Well you could not be more right. Yes, it was part of our story for the winter collection and I brought my Buffalo book in to the studio last July when we did our first meeting for summer 2012. I thought it was a nice way of expressing that the Lacroix brand is a child of the late 80s. We also visited the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A in London, and the Jean-Paul Goude exhibition in Paris during fall 2011. We all felt it was the right time for us to do it… it was in the air.
IB: You have been through the minimalist years of Prada and Helmut Lang in the 1990s, was it daunting for a brand like Lacroix, whose aesthetic was the polar opposite?
SW: Well there is always room for a little fantasy, even in the darker moments… and we jump on it at Lacroix! Even if today, we do it in a more realistic way.
IB: Finally, what are your personal hopes for the future of Lacroix?
SW: I really hope that the brand will be able to be strong and profitable in the near future.