LONGCHAMP AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
In 2006 Sophie Delafontaine, creative director at Longchamp, rustled up a few coats to put onto mannequins in-store. The idea was that her family company’s handbags looked rather fetching hanging off the crook of their plastic arms. Then, a few seasons later, she started delving into ready-to-wear proper. Now Delafontaine’s Longchamp collection sells in an international network of 1,500-ish doors. It is a thing.
Only Longchamp employees get to see this collection worn live on the runway. But on the rail, and on video at the brand’s press presentation, it’s a proposition that looks worth picking up on. This season Delafontaine uncomplicatedly took inspiration from the graphic shapes and unusual color combinations of the Memphis Group. So high silk or polyester shirts and dresses were gridded with the same patterns displayed on luxury leather versions of Longchamp’s golden-ticket, originally nylon bag, Le Pliage. Fine interplays of color—pistachio vs. burgundy worked especially well—zinged on a complementary skirt, shirt, and bag. There was a lot of shearling, chunky but supple on collarless overcoats—that kick in at around the 1,000 euro mark—or shaved superthin, most notably on some velvet lambskin-leather pants/leggings so thin and flexible they could almost be 100 percent synthetic and sourced at Nike (in a good way).
Longchamp’s success started with tobacco smokers’ accessories, but the bags have long been preeminent: unsurprising, then, that this designer and scion of the Longchamp backstory puts bags above ready-to-wear in the hierarchy of desirable things. She said: “I think bags, and shoes, are becoming the key point of the silhouette—it’s easier to carry and express what you want with a strong handbag and strong shoes than strong ready-to-wear.” Easier? Certainly. And buying clothes that not only match your favorite bag but were expressly designed to do so certainly takes the headache out of putting a look together—even though, strictly, it’s cheating. This was a big, slick, aggressively priced, and attractively constructed collection. So has Delafontaine been thinking of presenting Longchamp’s first on-schedule show anytime soon? “Not really,” she said. But the smile in her eyes told a different story.