Felipe Oliveira Baptista, Lacoste’s creative director, showed his SS16 collection under a canopy of white sailing straps that appeared to have been purloined from a luxury yacht.
'Lacoste is dressing the French Olympic team for Rio 2016,’ explained the Portuguese designer backstage. Hence the active shapes, primary colours and bold Lacoste branding that referenced Nineties sportswear. ‘We were looking at flags and airplanes to get that strong graphic statement across, then enlarged and abstracted those images to create something new.’ Big and bold was the number 27, referencing the year (1927) that Lacoste was founded.
The geometry of banners, lines, triangles and lozenges dictated the cut of the clothes. Some were uniform-like in their strictness, others free flowing, such as the air-light macs suspended from parachute braces that flew behind the models as they walked. ‘I wanted to use uniforms but in a fluid way, and I wanted sexy but in a healthy way,’ he added. So athletic body-con pieces were also a highlight: gymnastic vests and a navy Y-shaped bodysuit appeared alongside those crisp, paper-light nautical blousons, or the more sensuous army-green, parachute-silk safari dress.
Accessories were also sports-inspired, with the L.12.12 bag, a tribute to the famous Lacoste polo shirt. They came strapped across the body, messenger-bag style. And the footwear, the René sneaker, so called because founder of the brand René Lacoste created and wore them in 1963, were reconstructed here as white wedge sandals.
How challenging must it be to make fresh catwalk fashion out of this sporty brand season in, season out?
‘It’s not hard,’ said Baptista, ‘We all have fast, busy lives and these clothes respect that – they’re modern and effortless – they make life easier.’