Menswear Monday: A. Sauvage

Published June 16, 2014

There seem to be many more self-proclaimed creative polymaths working today than ever before (either that, or Instagram bios have simply made it easier to keep tabs on everyone’s various ambitions). Either way, not many amateur stylist-designer-directors enjoy the kind of success that Adrien Sauvage found when he got into fashion four years ago. “I just said I was a stylist and immediately I was a stylist,” he laughs. Soon enough, after racking up clients like Jude Law, Mos Def, and Noomi Rapace, he decided to try his hand at designing, and the first collection he ever put out, under the label A. Sauvage, was immediately picked up by Harrod’s and Matches. About a year after that he helmed his first film, This Is Not A Suit, which went to Sundance.

“I kind of got myself into a situation where I was like, ‘Damn, what am I? Am I a director? A photographer? A designer?'” Sauvage says. “I’m still working it all out, but I feel like it’s all been one story, really.” That story, from the looks of it, is all about deconstructing the standard masculine uniform—and injecting some fun into it—without destroying it altogether.

Last season Sauvage put on his first runway show at London Collections: Men, and it went just as successfully as all his other first tries. The unique mix of Anglo plaids and Ghanaian graphics that he showed are now selling at Ssense, The Corner, Galeries Lafayette, and The Shop at Bluebird. With his second-ever runway show planned for tomorrow evening, we phoned the designer to take stock the very eventful introduction he’s had to the industry, and to ask what media we should expect him to take on text.

DESIGNER: Adrien Sauvage

BASED IN: London

ORIGIN STORY: I kind of fell into it, really. I was a basketball player originally; I played for Great Britain for six years. I stopped playing when I met some girls. [laughs] I started hanging out with girls and they got me into fashion. I started working with some different people—I actually met a Swiss heiress who took me up. I started working with her—working on lifestyle, doing image consulting, personal shopping, that kind of vibe. She was obviously balling out of control, and so I was just like, “All right, we’ve got the Givenchy, we’ve got the Lanvin, I’ve got you all these brands.” I would get outfits commissioned for her, and so then I sort of came to understand how fashion works. All of a sudden, I’d dressed her up as the woman and I realized that her husband looked like shit. [laughs] And so I thought, okay, why don’t I start making clothes for men?

TRADEMARKS: I would say a modern and Afropolitan take on men’s fashion. I was born in London, but having a direct link to Africa—to Ghana—I fuse tradition and Ghanaian textiles into my designs, and I try to articulate that through a Western framework. The Kente is my woven fabric in linen and silk; it’s a traditional fabric that’s used in Ghana and places like the Ivory Coast and a few other places—I’ve seen it in Burkina Faso. I think working with that textile has created something in my design. It’s like my Burberry check. It’s quite nice to kind of fall back upon that and still kind of change it every season.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: What’s so nice is that each season you can kind of inject more and more of your character into the clothes. So at the beginning everything was very traditional—really classic—and I think my point was to introduce myself and explain the cut and this philosophy of dressing easy. So the client could kind of trust the silhouette, and then later be taken on a journey of different palettes and textiles and such.

BUILDING THE BRAND: I’d probably like to get into architecture. You know, interiors. [laughs] There’s so many things. When you brand something, you finish one part, and then you think, okay, what does the room around it look like? What about the building? Where do I live? What do I watch? What’s on the TV? And how can I make things better? It’s pretty much endless. I think I drive the people in my studio a bit crazy. [laughs]

EASY DOES IT: My approach is that I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. I’m here to make nice clothes and dress people and make them feel good about themselves and make them feel sexy. If, every six months, I can have some inspiration that lets me just add to what I’ve done previously, that’s really my goal.

FUTURE OF MENSWEAR: Whoa. I could never tell you the future. The only future I can see is that I’m having a baby in September. [laughs] That’s probably the only future that I’m looking at right now.

Menswear Monday runs every other Monday. For more, click here.