The lights dimmed, and taut white sails were illuminated at the end of the runway. We were headed out into open water. Felipe Oliveira Baptista finds endless ways to mine the Lacoste archives for athletic motifs. His are the kinds of activities once reserved for the rarefied social strata: tennis, golf, and—this year’s theme—yachting. But this wasn’t a prepped-out, fisherman-sweater expedition, but a real, sleek, sporty regatta race. It had speed and sex appeal (and it didn’t hurt that sporty chic is still going strong).
About the speed—neoprene was worked into iconic polos for men and women, as well as tailored women’s vests and coats. Windbreakers were built into the waists of sweatshirts, jackets, and shorts, left to hang down behind the models—no need to tie them around your waist. Silhouettes were simple, lean, and stiff, in that way that comes with certain modern materials. As for the sex, football jerseys showed up in sheer, light knits, and minidresses with regatta stripes hit mid-thigh. This was sporty sex, not obvious sex.
Where some designers can get lost too literally in the vaults, Baptista considers Lacoste’s classics and also the purpose of the clothes, then translates that for modern sportsmen and women—bona fide pros and weekend warriors alike. He’s embracing the necessity for tech in today’s market. After all, if computers can track the velocity of our swings or pinpoint the perfect angle with which to set our sails, then shouldn’t what we wear off-course be just as calculated?