World Domination is 1-2-3 for APC

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Published March 18, 2009

Ciro Petrone, shot by Bruce Weber for APC’s lookbook

While the whole hullabaloo danced about Paris, moving from one show venue to the next, APC’s Jean Touitou was in typically quiet form, installing at Bryan Adams’ new John Pawson-designed pied-a-terre on the Ile Saint Louis. Touitou was previewing APC’s Fall/Winter collection, offering whiffs of Sustain, the house’s first scent, concocted by L.A.’s natural oils perfumer Haley Alexander van Oosten and set to debut this spring. He was also paging  through  the galleys of “Road Runners,” a book of Hugh Holland California skate photos from the mid-1970s he’s publishing under his own imprint in July with Greybull Press’s Lisa Eisner, and reminded us that he’s working with a team from Carhartt Europe on an upcoming collaboration combining APC’s fabrics and the brand’s workwear staples. He was also showing off his backside, which had on it a small-print, blink-and-you-could-miss-it FUCK’EM in orange embroidery below the back pocket of a pair of dark denim jeans. It’s yet another APC combo, this one with US skate brand extraordinaire Supreme.

After over a year of preparation, Sustain, APC’s first fragrance, is finally ready to go. Touitou hooked up with LA’s perfumer Haley Alexander van Oosten, who produces her own L’Oeil du Vent scents and plant-based skincare collection. Van Oosten came up with a 12-note scent in homage to the 12-string guitar. Interview‘s own art director duo M/M, who work frequently with APC, had to figure out what kind of bottle befitted this elixir. “They told me the best way was to take drugs and find a crazy shape,” says Touitou.  Instead he went into the studio and played the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset.” The resulting sound graph registered by Pro Tools became a blueprint for the shape of a turned wood bottle which looks like a twisted spool of thread made in the Jura, France’s wood crafting center. “Haley introduced me to some fragrance industry people recently and when I told them I was naming the scent Sustain, they said it was a terrible choice.  It’s always been like that for me. Every idea I’ve ever had has been considered a professional disaster.”  Touitou’s earlier choice for a name was “Old Playboy,” “Oh,” he shrugs, “That one wasn’t right, and maybe it’s too personal.”

Touitou is a jack of all stylish trades: musician, record producer, and more recently publisher with his own imprint and a deal with the classy French underground publisher Editions du Minuit to bring out limited editions of out of print classics from its catalogue. Tony Duvert’s Abécédarie Malveillant will be one of the first. It’s one of those door-opening transgressive classics that, were it written today, would be outlawed.  “This was the book I grew up with and when I found out I could bring it back in an edition of 250 copies I didn’t hesitate,” Touitou says.

We looked through the fall APC collection, which, at 500 pieces, Touitou says is really starting to get too big. Asked what his favorite things were he brought out a navy blue bandleader jacket. The braid trim brought to mind American marching bands, but the navy blue was classic French schoolgirl. And then he picked out a droopy, crunchy, and probably really cozy cardigan, it looked like an old man in the country by the fire. I wanted that one too.

APC clothes are great, beloved by Japanese hipsters and  Paris’s jeunesse d’orée who live nearby the brand’s Rue Madame HQ, near  the Jardin du Luxembourg. But I get the impression Touitou’s favorite things are the catalogues he produces with M/M and great photographers like Bruce Weber. It’s almost like the clothes are secondary to weaving a story about them in these great books and personal adventures. The latest one is a case in point. APC men’s Spring 2009 book, shot by Weber, features Ciro Petrone, who played the doomed junior petty criminal dude in the Naples inside-the-mafia film Gommorah by Matteo Garrone based on the best-seller by Roberto Saviano.

Not only had Petrone never  left Italy, he’d never been out of the Naples region and when Touitou managed to track him down via APC’s Neapolitan shoemaker. There was no time to lose hustling a passport overnight for the actor to shoot with Weber in New York. “Ciro doesn’t speak English, and he doesn’t really speak Italian either, it’s more Neapolitan dialect,” says Touitou, who was there for the shoot. The result is an intimate portrait of the freshest faced, angel-cum-bad boy. It’s obvious he’s the next contender in the Brando-esque heart stopper category. Petrone is busy shooting films in Italy these days, but I see his future and Hollywood is in it.