back to the future with lacoste’s felipe oliveira baptista
Delving deep into Lacoste’s archives, Creative Director Felipe Oliveira Baptista repurposes the original tennis trainer for the streets of today. Once at home on the feet of champions, the new LS.12 manages to remain loyal to the 1987 classic yet looks...
Image courtest Lacoste
Backstage at your Spring/Summer '15 show, you said "Rene Lacoste was not a designer, he was an inventor." Has your role at Lacoste changed you as a designer? If so, how?
It's been a great influence since I've been working here. I've been at Lacoste for 4 years, and for 3 and a half I have worked on my own brand, and have put a lot of what I stand for as a designer at Lacoste. I have the potential to be an inventor but also pay tribute to that, to keep things very functional, very designed with a purpose, but at the same time tried to give an edge and keep things exciting.
You were just 12 when the original LS.12 first graced the hard courts. What were your trainers of choice as a teen?
Nike when I was a teenager, but I had polo's already, I think I had my first polo when I was about 8.
What are your earliest memories of the LS.12?
I don't remember the shoe from that time but when I first arrived they were the first sneakers I fell in love with, so I wanted to do something with that.
What was the starting point? When faced with such a classic, what are you emotions? Are you excited or daunted to rework a familiar icon?
I think that's the great thing about working with archives and 18 years of history. Sometimes you pick things that have a timeless quality; this trainer is nearly 20 years old, and still very relevant. We hardly changed anything to it, and that's very much the spirit of the brand; not about seasonal fashion, more about things that are relevant. To put that in the lifeline is my job.
The original was at home on the hard court and on the feet of champions. Where is the LS.12 most at home and on whose feet?
Technical trainers are very much in vogue, so people may not be playing tennis in them. People now wear trainers every day. So it's a 7-day, 52 week shape, and can be dressed up and dressed down.
As it moves into its new future, the design adds a range of urban colours alongside the required tennis court white. However, I wanted to ask… how handy are you on the tennis court? Has your game improved whilst at the design helm of Lacoste?
No, unfortunately I do not play tennis! I played golf when I was a kid but don't really have time now! I got more into tennis since I started seeing it live. It's exciting when you're enclosed by it; the sound, the strength. The LS.12 will come in white as well!
Finally, what excites you most about tomorrow?
We have collaborations in the pipeline which will be very exciting if they come through, and I'm already way into the next collection, it's like a never-ending cycle.
Text Steve Salter
Image courtesy Lacoste