a meeting of minds between lacoste and jean paul goude
As the French label collaborates with Jean Paul Goude on a limited edition capsule collection, we meet the creative director behind its youthful rebirth.
Felipe Oliveira Baptista
Felipe Oliveira Baptista has been flipping the script with Lacoste ever since joining the house in 2010. In his role as creative director, the Portuguese designer has injected the brand (known mainly for its crocodile-emblazoned polo) with a modern and youthful ease — taking athletic separates, (think tracksuit bottoms, hoodies, and pique dresses) and re-contextualizing them for a busy Generation Z. He is also not afraid of taking the brand to new places — his six year tenure has seen him collaborate with the likes of art director and graphic designer Peter Saville, Japanese streetwear giant A Bathing Ape, and Opening Ceremony.
Lacoste's newest collaboration has seen Baptista team up with legendary art director and photographer Jean Paul Goude to re-work the famous croc logo for a limited capsule collection. An acute eye notices that Jean Paul approached his redesign of the crocodile much like the sketches for his notable commercial and campaign work. "I dance and I draw pictures — that's all I can do," Jean Paul lovingly explains of his approach. As we fete the collection at Paris's Palais de Porte Dorée by way of a live installation, Felipe explains how working with Jean Paul set his creativity alight.
After working with Peter Saville in 2013, why was it important to reimagine the crocodile logo again?
The fun thing about this project is to take someone you really respect who has a really strong universe and identity; and it's important for the brand to not take itself too seriously. Working with Jean Paul Goude opened up a whole new window of creativity for us.
When Lacoste looks for contributors to work with, what are some of the attributes you look for?
Someone with a strong point of view. Selfishly for me, it's great to work with people that I have admired for a long time, too, and have always wanted to work with. Jean Paul Goude definitely has such a dynamic body of work; he takes everything to a different dimension.
What was your first memory of Goude's work?
It's funny because I was in a vintage place in Paris yesterday and found a copy of PHOTO Magazine that I remember buying in 1988 when I was 13. It's one with Grace Jones on the cover, and I photographed it and sent it to him yesterday saying: "this was one of the first times I had seen your work." That, and his work for the bicentenary of the French Revolution really stick out in my mind as my first memories. We all really grew up with the advertising, the Citroen advert with the car coming out of Grace's mouth, and his Egoiste Chanel ad — there are so many memories from childhood.
How did the collaboration first come about?
We met through mutual friends two years ago; he said how much he loved Lacoste and how much he would love to do something. I think he was thinking just photos, but I proposed designing something. It was very cool as he got really into it, and what is interesting about this is that we really gave him the green light to get involved. We must of met about ten times during the whole process, and it was always so inspiring.
Who did you have in mind when you thought about this collection?
Well, it's a re-contextualization of the polo and by definition, the polo is one of the democratic pieces of clothing there is. You really get a window into his world and what he does — he has a very strong point of view. He wanted to do things very old school, so my thing was to make everything as easy and as seamless as possible.
How do you find collaborating with other people? Are you someone who welcomes another point of view?
The best thing is when you see someone who you've known personally for a long time and actually go through a creative process with them. It was very interesting and freeing, he's still someone who is very youthful in the way he thinks; there is always a lightness to his work and I very much appreciate that. I appreciate it because in my way, I think I like to inject that same fun into my work.
I think he's a reminder that in fashion, everything doesn't have to be so prescriptive.
Yes, he is someone who works in advertising and in fashion but has the vision of an artist. He never sold out and has such consistency. The first time we went to the factory, it took two and a half hours and I just spent the whole journey listening to his stories — listening and laughing.
Text Lynette Nylander