A Friend in Paris: Alexandre Mattiussi of AMI

For the Fall 2011 season, French menswear designer Alexandre Mattiussi launched his collection AMI (“friend” in French), and it’s been pretty much nonstop ever since. At 30, you could say he’s Paris menswear’s new kid on the block, dressing men who—not unlike himself—desire elegant clothes at a price tailored to suit the budget of a young art director. The Paris menswear shows kick off on Wednesday, and Mattiussi is staging a street-cast show (starring friends and unknowns) with an evening get-together at Soprano in the Marais. He’s strung lights in the trees on the square in front, and if the weather behaves, it’s going to be an outdoor fête with good wine and laughs.  
AMI aims to fill that void between mass and sky-high fashion, which has had many men wondering if they will ever find what they want to wear today. As usual, the simplest things are often the most complicated to produce.  After spending the past decade working his way through Dior Homme’s classic 30 Avenue Montaigne label, a stint at Givenchy, where he assisted the flamboyant Ozwald Boateng, and work with Joe McKenna on Marc Jacobs menswear, Mattiussi got the itch over a year ago and began his collection by researching production in Portugal, Italy and Tunisia.

“I love clothes, but I’m not a fashion victim. My friends inspire me. Some of them have children, they’re all working and nobody goes to the supermarket in a smoking,” he says. One of Mattiussi’s friends is Pierre Hardy, the shoe designer, who was a lecturer at Duperré where he studied fashion, and he remains an inspiration.  “The idea is no blah blah,” he says, “just beautiful colors, good proportions, panache with simplicity.”

Wearing his own khakis, a white T-shirt and his version of desert boots, Mattiussi is kind of an open book. For spring, the overcoat in techno cotton has a suede collar lining, and there are no extra pockets or zips, just a good shape. Shirts in sky blue and peach in very light cotton are for a man who doesn’t have much to hide.

For a month beginning August 27, Mattiussi will stage an AMI pop-up at 11, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Paris. For the well-heeled, the space is across the street from Christian Louboutin headquarters.  Expect comfortable sofas, coffee and cake, and the clothes.

For those not in the neighborhood, AMI has been picked up by Barneys New York for 12 of its stores, the Webster in Miami, Mr. Porter online, Sydney’s in Toronto, Corso Como in Milan and Seoul, Paris’s tony Bon Marché and a few other places.  There’s a plaid wool two-button blazer, salt and pepper topcoat, some thick turtlenecks, a sleek suede blouson with a fur collar, and more. The French don’t have an expression for “no-brainer”  (this is, after all, a country where “philosopher” remains an actual profession) but Mattiussi’s clothes are a close, Gallic relation to that.