« Virility is a notion eminently built in relation with and for other men against femininity. »– Pierre Bourdieu
Having to deal with a shattered masculinity, today’s man is going through an identity crisis. As changing as manliness’ definition gets, man struggles to reaffirm physical and psychological features that define him. On a search for that lost virility, Antoine Chevron studies, through clothing, experience and strength. The shapes, colors and cuts seen in Chevron’s work accentuate muscle structure, while fabrics and materials evoke personal experience. Somewhere between warrior and superhero, Antoine Chevron’s work speaks of a mythical brute strength that, like Faust, could tame the underworld.
Baron: What’s your story, fashion-wise?
Antoine Chevron: Keeping in mind that, in the end, I went to study the applied arts, I did a B.A. in sciences and mathematics in France. Back then, my parents used to call the shots, thinking I would be either a businessman or an engineer! Eventually, I had a friend who was pursuing studies in the applied arts and it made me discover a whole universe I wouldn’t have dreamed of. I got interested in various art schools and ended up as a student in one of them. During my first year, I tried everything I could, thus coming into contact with fashion for the first time.
B.: Did this first contact trigger your passion for fashion?
A. C.: Yes! Shortly after, I met someone who became my partner and mentor. We were doing all our homework together and he was always pushing me to go further. We did some crazy creative sprees with wicked costumes and all. I decided to go to the Atelier de Sèvres, in Paris, which is a prep school for the great art and design institutes. I wanted to go to Central Saint Martins but ended up right here, in Montreal, with my girlfriend at the time.
B.: You’re this year’s only graduate to present clothing line just for men. What made you do this?
A. C.: With Faust, my goal was to get rid of everything metrosexual in today’s masculinity. Go back to that certain rugged, if not “battle-damaged” aesthetic given by experience, which makes a man beautiful. A man has to be strong, and I’m not talking about physical strength here. I do not make clothes for bodybuilders, but for confident and masculine men.
B.: Could you be more precise as to what kind of man?
A. C.: For example, yesterday I watched Skyfall. If I had to describe what is a guy, I would say it’s like James Bond. Set aside the exaggerated romance, in that movie, Bond shows signs of old age; he needs to retire. You see him fight, take the blows and go back for more. He doesn’t show his emotions, he’s not afraid; he doesn’t feel the need to cry and does what he must. To me, that’s part of what a man is.
B.: And how did you shape your work around that vision of man?
A. C.: Following these guidelines, I wanted the whole collection to exude masculinity. I selected every fabric, made all the cuts and chose each color with that in mind.
I opted for rigid and solid materials. For that reason, you’ll see lots of leather and neoprene in Faust. I used zigzag patterns while sewing with a really thick nylon thread. The resulting garments give an impression of solidity that will last for long, coupled with a look that’s a tad sporty, since the wearer has to be able to move freely. The clothes will help the wearer achieve a sturdy and manly image. I try not to use the term “virility” too much when I have to talk about my work because, even if it is the concept that inspired the whole collection, it has a slight pejorative ring to it. Mark my words: I do not make clothes for guys who wear Ed Hardy apparel.
B.: You’ve worked as an intern for designers whose style is quite the opposite as yours. What did you learn out of that experience?
A. C.: I worked at Paul and Joe, in Paris. Theirs is a style that is much more floral and gentle than mine, at the moment. This internship made me realize I could really adapt to other people’s work when required to create and design pieces for them. As a matter of fact, I came up with some floral prints for Paul and Joe. I used flashy fluorescent colors like pink and yellow. It was pretty cool. Now I know I can do these sort of things, even if I wouldn’t wear it myself. Oui, j’ai fait mon stage chez Paul and Joe, à Paris. Une marque qui est de beaucoup plus florale, gentille que ce que ce que je fais en ce moment. Une de mes qualités au travail, c’est de savoir m’adapter et créer des choses pour d’autre personnes, peu importe leur style. J’ai d’ailleurs créé des imprimés pour eux, des imprimées floraux justement, avec des couleurs fluos, avec du jaune, du rose. C’était cool. Je suis capable de le faire, mais ce n’est pas ce que je porterais.
B.: Would you like to go back to France? Is Central Saint Martins still an option you consider?
A. C.: No. To be honest, I think I’ve had enough of school, for now. I’d rather learn while working in the fashion industry. Eventually, I’d like to start my own brand. Above all else, I trust in life. I have to stay open to every opportunity that could present itself. In order to do so, you can’t plan ahead too much since you can’t predict what’s around the corner. Let’s say I kinda know where I want to go. For everything else, we’ll see.
B.: And what are your thoughts on a designer’s situation in today’s fashion industry?
A. C.: I’ll trust my social side and the many hats I wear. I know I’m self-taught and that I’m already pretty resourceful. Even if I wasn’t aware of the amount of work required to create an entire clothing line, I went ahead and did it. I learned a lot and I have to say that I found satisfaction in that. Then again, some finishes aren’t perfect but the collection looks good. I now know how to do it gain and even how to do it better. As creators, we’re constantly evolving. There’s always something to learn. Here in Montreal, I feel there are businesses that can teach me a lot, like Dynamite and Sid Lee. They might not be linked to fashion, but they’re always innovating and creating. As far as career opportunities go, I must stay open-minded.
Discover Antoine Chevron’s Faust on April 29th, as part of the collective fashion show of UQÀM’s Fashion management – design and styling graduates, at the university’s Design Center’s gallery.