A contemporary compound between classic French tailoring and streetwear is what the founder and designer behind the LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi stands out for. Inspired by literature, art and the Japanese culture, the Parisian brand delivers a futuristic look at the edge of fine elegance, alternative subculture and traditional grunge. If you thought it was all about menswear, you’ll be surprised by how versatile it can get. 
Louis-Gabriel, you studied law and medicine before diving into the fashion field. What made you take the step?
I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in fashion. However, I don’t come from an artistic background nor crowd at all, and I was a bit nervous to step into this unknown industry. Also, the fact that I graduated at a quite young age from high school allowed me some time to experience different fields. I wanted to be completely sure before doing it and giving 100% of myself to this.
You launched your eponymous label, LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi, in 2017, and now you’ve just presented your third collection, Fall/Winter 2019. How has the evolution been through these years? What do you think has been your major change?
It’s going very fast! I’m happy with the evolution of the brand so far. Knitting and tailoring are becoming more and more important. I receive good and useful feedback from our stockists and clients, which helps a lot to make the collections more precise and accurate each season. The show is also a good way of expressing what I want to do.
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When you started with your own project, you had already acquired lots of experience within the fashion industry – both in media/press and in design. How did that help, and how is it being an emerging designer in Paris?
Paris is very dynamic right now, especially the menswear scene. I’ve always wanted to work for other fashion brands before funding my own, as my aim was to learn more about the process, production, the impact of the press, etc. As a company, we have to deal with so many things now, but I try to keep the design as the most important part, doing my best to not get suffocated by all the other many sides of the industry. First and foremost, my focus is on the people who will wear the clothes.
How much attention do you pay to the rest of the fashion industry?
I keep an eye but not too much. I think it’s already difficult to keep your own vision and direction.
In what way do you want to contribute to this industry?
I want to go back to the product as much as possible without having too much impressive effect. Technologic innovation with an eye to sustainability is also something that I want to develop more. I’m doing it already, working with old fabrics stock or transforming vintage stuff, but I’m not necessarily communicating it. I think for our generation it’s completely normal to think this way, and the industry is finally also paying attention to it. Customers are also much more educated and sensitive to this matter and I think this is very good for the industry overall.
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Who is the person LGN wants to represent?
I would like to represent people that want to be elegant and have a flair for details. I like the fact that my collections are quite ‘large’ and that you can do whatever you want with all the clothes, playing around a bit and transforming them as you want.
In some of your previous collaborations, such as the one with La Redoute or Galeries Lafayette, you also conceived womenswear, even if always from a gender-fluid perspective. It is stated that LGN refuses to be constrained by traditional gender norms. How important do you think it is for a brand to cross the male/female division these days?
Half of our customers are females! Even if I say that the brand is gender fluid, I’m conceiving everything measured on men – in terms of fabrics and patterns. I think it’s important but not necessarily determinant. People do what they want, and I like to see how the outcome can be completely different from what I was thinking in the first place.
As a designer, you get a good amount of inspiration from books. How do you translate those concepts into design aspects? Tell us a little bit more about your creative process.
I got used to reading a lot since I was very young. It’s always been an important ritual for me, an essential part of my creative process. I try to read every day, and I think it’s crucial to save some time outside of the fashion world! When I’m reading, it’s like a movie going on in my head: it provides a personal point of start for every collection.
Every book reminds me of a period of my life; I love to read them again at a different age because you have a completely different point of view on it. Furthermore, it gives a structure to the brand. I would like the text to have more impact than images, even if it’s very difficult to not being ‘first degree’. I try to develop this aspect more and more every collection.
“First and foremost, my focus is on the people who will wear the clothes.”
Practicality and elegance. Easy to wear but chic. What is the story behind your existentialist approach to design in your Ancient Evenings collection? What book did you base it on?
Ancient Evenings, by Normal Miller, is one of the first books I read from the American writer. I was very impressed by it as I was totally obsessed with mythology at that time. I would spend all of my free time at the Louvre museum in Paris. It was also fascinating to me that it started with facts that took place twenty thousand years ago but that still sound very contemporary in the search of spirituality and sense in your life.
Has the quest for spirituality and what there is beyond life always been of your interest?
I think so. Maybe I don’t realize it but we are in a quite dark period where people are looking for meaning in their lives. I’d love to think that there’s something after life, even if it’s a very romantic idea for me. We have so much to do now already.
We can see the Egyptian influence in your looks through the stars, the talismans, the use of gold and silver… but in a very futuristic and chic approach. How important is the styling of the looks for you when projecting a collection?
It’s of major importance. I’m drawing every look at the beginning of the collections. After this first phase, it’s mostly fitting, fitting, fitting. I’m not working a lot on a stockman, as it may be the way I’m working patterns flat.
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Out of sheer curiosity, we’ve seen the use of safety vests in a few of the looks from your Ancient Evenings collection. Is it somehow related to the zeitgeist that there is upon France with the ‘gilet jaunes movement’?
It’s funny because I designed the collection months before the movements started in Paris! So even if it’s completely out of point, I think it was in the air. I thought about it a lot before including them because I was afraid that the audience would link them up with the gilet jaunes. The collection is based on workwear, and this is some kind of graphic design I’ve done before.
What are you working on right now?
The next Spring/Summer 2020 collection, which will be presented in June at the next Paris Fashion Week.
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