There’s more to menswear than suits and ties. Every other Monday, we’re giving the fastest developing facet of fashion the attention it deserves and introducing the designers, buyers, trendsetters, and stylists you need to know.
Alexandre Mattiussi’s menswear line, AMI, could not be more aptly named. “Since the beginning, this collection was really made for the people I love,” he tells us, at least three times, each iteration as genuine and unassuming as the last.
Established in 2011, AMI gave its sixth-ever presentation in Paris at the end of June, and less than a week later won the annually awarded €250,000 Grand Prix endowment from ANDAM (L’Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode, the French equivalent of the CFDA). This sort of fast-track success is familiar territory for Mattiussi: he got started designing menswear for Dior at 21, went to work on Givenchy’s men’s collection at 24, and then briefly joined Marc Jacobs at 28 before breaking off to begin work on AMI a year later in 2009.
To be fair, he had a bit of a head start. Between his stints at Dior and Givenchy, Mattiussi sold his own line of tees and casual shirts under the moniker Ami. While decidedly dressier (and capitalized), AMI is every bit as laidback and focused on ease as its early-aughts predecessor. In the wake of his big ANDAM win, we got in touch with Mattiussi to talk street style, story-telling, and sentimentalism.
DESIGNER: Alexandre Mattiussi
SHOWING IN: Paris
ORIGIN STORY: I used to be a classical dancer. I started at four years old. I was very creative, listening to music, doing some shows for my parents on Sunday mornings in the garden. When I started in fashion I was quite young—I started at school in Paris when I was 17 years old. I felt that fashion had something in common with dance, the way ballet dancing is made of choreography, music, light, movement, costume—I feel that that’s something I really like to do in each of my collections now. We’re always trying to build a story.
TRADEMARKS: There’s always a concept of reality in it. I love to mix classical and casual things together. I love to mix jackets and tailoring with jeans and chinos, making everything very Parisian in a way, but in a very cool way. Not a fashion statement, nothing pretentious or too sophisticated, but just a cool attitude and a wardrobe that you could wear every day. I used to design beautiful things for Givenchy or Marc Jacobs, but in the end I couldn’t really wear them, either because they were super expensive or super conceptual. It was never really connected to my reality. So since the beginning we’ve just decided to have fun and make clothes that we want to wear. I’m not trying to conceptualize; I’m not trying to intellectualize.
STYLE ICONS: The people who inspire me are very close to me. I don’t really look at books and movies and such for collections, because I never feel inspired by something that doesn’t really exist. I’m inspired by the people I love—my friends. We have a conversation every season about what they want to wear. It’s a very open conversation that I have with them all the time, just like music or literature or cinema, you just have a conversation about it. Fashion is part of our lives now. It’s something that men are very interested in.
BOYS VS. GIRLS: I think menswear gives you a kind of reality about fashion. Womenswear, it’s still about a kind of phantasme, or iconic pictures of super-famous models in something that can’t really exist in reality. Menswear maybe keeps us in a better attitude about fashion. I feel like there’s something very authentic about it. In 10 years you can really see how the young people in Paris have changed their style. Now, even the young guys, they’ll wear a jacket with a pair of shoes—leather derbies or something—when 10 years ago we just wore trainers, or, I don’t know, Palladium or Converse.
FUTURE COLLECTOR’S ITEM: The big signature for us now is a red beanie, because I’m wearing a red beanie all the time. [laughs] I don’t know why, but it’s starting to become a sort of a thing.
THE REAL WORLD: For the Fall presentation we built the metro, for Spring we built an airport terminal in the Palais de Tokyo—always to connect it to our own lives. We want to show that these clothes are for you, the guys that are at these places. It could be you, your brother, your boyfriend, a guy you see on the train in the morning or at the gate before leaving for vacation.
Just last week I was walking by Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and I saw this couple kissing at a bus stop. The guy was wearing one of our jackets, and I wanted to take a picture but I didn’t. If I did, they would’ve stopped kissing. But it was super charming to see.