pigalle celebrated the diverse sound and energy of paris’ youth
Defying the expectation of a catwalk show, future mayor of Paris Stephane Ashpool collaborated with Grande Ville Records and Beats by Dr. Dre to showcase the city’s new wave of undiscovered talent.
Sound of Paris photography courtesy of Beats by Dr. Dre
“This project reflects a love for Paris and its creative community,” Stephane Ashpool explained as we sat down in his Pigalle-based atelier to discuss his vision for the spring/summer 19 “culture show”, The Sound of Paris. “It’s a multi-layered production breaking all codes and borders.” Since its inception ten years ago, Pigalle has broken codes and blurred borders as it has always been more than a fashion label. The self-taught designer has been translating the energy of the streets of Paris’ once-seedy quarter into fashion, culture, sports and social projects. “Pigalle has helped me realise all the dreams I had as a kid. I always wanted to create something, to work with my friends and my neighbours on something and that something always has to be socially relevant.”
“It used to be that if you created a T-shirt, you were a streetwear designer. If you wrote poetry, you were a poet, he added, “those boundaries have blurred and that’s great for us because we’ve never been just one thing.” From basketball courts to bloc parties, Pigalle is a as much a cultural hub as it is a fashion enterprise. “I’ve been working with Hani’s artists for a while, they’ve been creating soundtracks for the shows so they’re already part of the family. We keep it tight. Friends, family and positive vibrations are always welcome. We’ve been working together, organising a bloc party that been getting bigger and bigger. Most of them perform for us for the first or second time, alongside established talent.” Sound of Paris took these ideas further.
Ultimately, Sound of Paris is the realisation of yet of another childhood dream with Pigalle defying catwalk conventions and using its platform to showcase emerging musical talent. “This has been in my head for a long time, since a very young age. I wanted to mix art -- music, costume, cinematography, imagery -- all together to create one environment that is much more than a fashion show. It’s more a culture show. It’s not a comedy musical but that’s the closest. It could be defined as an opera -- a mix of dance music and costume. I leave that to the audience [to decide] but I hope it’s fun.” On an evening in which streets were filled with music for the city’s Fête de la Musique, Sound of Paris took place in Salle Pleyel, a 2000-seat concert hall close to the Arc de Triomphe. Alongside seasoned critics and publishers, the venue was filled with friends and fans in search of a good time and as ever, Pigalle, with the help of Grande Ville Records and Beats by Dr. Dre, delivered a night to remember.
“It’s different genres but a unified aesthetic between everyone,” Grand Ville Records’ Hani Asfari explained. “Not everyone in the show comes from the same label but they’ve been brought together because they’ve done something with Stephane at some point and it’s a similar energy that everyone brings together. It began with a core group and just branched out to the people around us.” Last summer, the pair set up a studio in Ibiza, invited the artists out and started recording. “I see them as a colour palette in terms of sound and personality,” Ashpool added. “From pop to ambience, R&B to hardcore rap, it’s a spectrum but I hope people hear that the sound is from the same place.” At that stage, they had the music and a dream. Then along came Beats to help realise it.
“We arrived back from recording and a few days later were in the studio and Luke (Wood, President of Beats) who is a friend of the family, just popped in. We told him what we had been up to. He listened and asked us how he could help. Without the support of Beats, we couldn’t do it. Their help made this happen.” In recent seasons, the hyped audio products maker has collaborated with the likes of Undefeated, Balmain, Alexander Wang, Fendi, Fragment and Pigalle too, but nothing quite as deep as this. This project has pushed everyone involved. “Beats has always been a natural partner for Pigalle to bring to life its audacious and imaginative approach to storytelling around music and fashion, and with this project drawing in the new wave of Parisian music we immediately knew we had to throw our full support behind it. “You meet designers who are passionate about music but he champions creative and community force,” Wood explained. “Stephane’s proud of his community, his city, his neighbourhood. From basketball, fashion and music, it’s all about mentorship and moving things forward. I hope this project helps people see that music isn’t about a scene or a genre, a promoter, one brand. It’s a community of people that come together,” Wood added. “I come from American punk and hard-core, and we came together, it was about community. Because we had that commonality, it works. For me, Stephane’s team has the same spirit.”
For Pigalle, it’s never been enough to just break down fashion’s walls just for themselves, it’s for the good of the community. “We roll deep,” Asfari added with laugh, but he had a point. “It’s true that whenever I receive any support and am able to create something, of course I will do it but not only to serve me,” Ashpool explained. “The basketball court is the prime example. I had so much fun doing it but there are always 100 kids there, in a healthy environment. That comes from the same spirit.” So too Sound of Paris.
The soundtrack, produced by Grande Ville Records, featured Lonely Band, Bonita, Papooz, Larry V, Jimmy Whoo, Monomite, Loubenski, NSDOS, OKO, Muddy Monk, Bonnie Banane, Myth Syzer and finally Ichon. Throughout the performance, the audience members -- who weren’t fashion press -- screamed for their favourites who were outfitted in Ashpool-designed costumes rather than a ready-to-wear collection. The energy was infectious. Insiders and outsiders to the community alike were able to see the new wave of Paris that inspires Pigalle. “I’m watching Paris every single day and my love for this city is deep,” Ashpool explained. “I want to be the mayor one day. I always say people should take the time to explore the city. Take a bike, be careful and keep your eyes open because you will discover again and again.” With Ashpool as your guide, you will fall deep in love with this city too.