This Is Not a Suit
It is no secret that George Lamb is a popular chap with us FashionBeans writers. Always impeccably turned out and not afraid to embrace his eccentric side with his fashion choices, Lamb has now paired up with his good friend and stylist-turned-designer, Adrien Sauvage, to help create a new fashion collection of sharply tailored menswear. Lamb and Sauvage both agree that for the past several years, nothing in clothing shops really grabbed them or inspired them – so rather than ruminate on this with inaction, they decided to act and fill this niche with a collection which represents a contemporary take on traditional men’s tailoring. The range is called A. Sauvage, and the promotional campaign surrounding the collection is called ‘This Is Not A Suit’ (TNS) and features inspired ways of using different types of media such as photography and film to advertise and promote the pieces. Not only is the collection itself fresh and sleek without straying too far from traditionalism, but additionally the TNS promotional campaign echoes the creativity of the collection and demonstrates the modern methods and types of media available to designers these days to advertise their ranges and concepts.
So how does the Sauvage-Lamb partnership work? Adrien Sauvage is a former England basketball player, but at the age of 19 decided to jack in the basketball court, and become a personal stylist in order to flex his creative muscle. After several years of being a personal stylist, Sauvage encountered George Lamb and they soon became good friends, discovering that they both shared a common disillusionment with current menswear trends and felt a general lack of excitement in the existing male fashions – so the A. Sauvage range was born. Sauvage is the designer of the collection, whilst business partner Lamb acts as a muse, clothes horse and walking advertisement, also offering up his celebrity address book as a tool to help attract the right sort of attention from the famous faces of British society.
The collection itself has been described as ‘impeccable tailoring which perfectly balances the line between classic and contemporary while the cool, off-beat hues bring a touch of quirky chic to timeless style.’ Lamb is well-known amongst us Brits as a champion of sleek and sharp tailoring – and the collection perfectly echoes this sentiment. Although firmly rooted in Savile Row-esque classical traditional tailoring, Sauvage is not afraid to be extreme and experimental, and his suits are made contemporary with the colours, fabrics and cuts used. Brown Prince of Wales checked country blazers are teamed with corduroy trousers in eye-popping purples, electric blues and blazing oranges with matching wide ties – creating a jacket-trouser pattern contrast which is effectively stylish.
Even the more muted, traditional suits are made contemporary with the progressive cuts – the jackets are cut shorter than the standard length and feature wide, plunging lapels and the sleeves also have extra volume for added mobility. A perfect example of Sauvage’s preference for traditional detail combined with progressive cuts is his use of the double-breasted jacket. Although often viewed as a dated style choice reserved for portly gentlemen trying to cover up their excess bellies during the 1980s, Sauvage takes the classic double-breasted jacket and makes it current by adding a double-vent creating a slimmer fit for a more flattering silhouette. The beauty of the collection is the simplicity of the pieces – Sauvage’s designs do not include any logos or insignias which allows the sleek, crisp tailoring to speak for itself.
This Is Not A Suit Campaign
Lamb and Sauvage’s creativity not only presents itself in the A. Sauvage collection, but also in the ways they choose to promote it. The promotional campaign, ‘This Is Not A Suit’ has been described by Sauvage as an ongoing style project, not a one-off seasonal collection. He adds that they will not follow the fashion schedule of releasing subsequent collections on a seasonal basis, they will react to the evolving needs of the customers, the men themselves, and add pieces to the range when there is a demand. Sauvage says that he is intrigued by the word ‘suit’, and the connotations that resonate with this word amongst the different people in our society. Lamb and Sauvage share the joint aim of challenging these preconceived connotations and changing the concept of a suit as a kind of office-based uniform associated solely with the drudgery of 9-5 working life and formal occasions such as weddings and funerals. Lamb himself says that he does not work in an office, but he still has a love for suits and he wants to use this opportunity to champion the suit as a sophisticated and stylish choice which does not have to be associated with corporate rigidity, formality and discomfort. As Sauvage says, ‘I want to start again with it [the suit] and turn it on its head. This line is about giving men options and clothes they actually want to wear.’ In summary, it is time for men to start wearing the suit, rather than letting the suit wear them.
The first phase of the ‘This Is Not A Suit’ campaign was two photographic projects carried out by Sauvage himself. For the first, titled ‘Natives’, Sauvage went to Venice Beach in California – a location famous for the versatile mix of people that make up the local community. Here, Sauvage asked natives of Venice Beach to look at his designs and choose something they would like to wear and then encouraged them to carry on with their daily actions whilst he photographed them. His aim was to capture his designs in motion in different settings and worn by different types of people. There was no discrimination of ethnicity, social standing or age – all walks of life were encouraged to be involved, from graffiti artists, to retired basketball pros to body builders. The expertly-shot photographs not only beautifully show off the collection, they also excellently challenge the traditional connotations of ‘the suit’ and Sauvage’s choice of location perfectly demonstrates his wish to turn the traditional idea of the suit on its head.
The next TNS campaign was a second photography project called ‘Captain’ and featured images of several British celebrities who are deemed as ‘Captains’ in their respected industries, photographed in pieces from the A. Sauvage collection. Musicians such as Mark Ronson and Alex Turner (another FashionBeans style icon), actors such as Bill Nighy and Dominic Cooper, and presenters such as James Corden and even George Lamb himself all feature in this campaign – again, in photographs all excellently shot by Adrien Sauvage himself. GQ have been so impressed with Sauvage’s collection and his photography skills that he was asked to photograph the recent GQ Men Of The Year awards for GQ – where celebrities such as Noel Gallagher were rocking A. Sauvage’s own collection.
The Art Of DE
Sauvage’s most recent promotional concept for ‘This is Not A Suit’ is a short surrealist film called ‘The Art Of DE (Dress Easy)’ which shows Sauvage again being unique in his method of advertising through the use of film. Sauvage assumes the role of director, producer, writer, and is also the star of the intriguing film and George Lamb’s famous actor father Larry Lamb acts as narrator for the piece. The film is particularly left-field and shows Sauvage, (or ‘The Designer’ as the film’s character is called), showcasing pieces of his collection with Larry Lamb’s dreamlike narrative explaining the features of the pieces and the inspiration behind them. The ‘DE’ (Dress Easy) concept cleverly highlights Sauvage’s preference for simplicity over embellishment and the narrative emphasises aspects such as side adjusters on the trousers instead of belts, whilst the phrase ‘no cufflinks means no nonsense’ is a catchy concept.
The Art of DE also reiterates Sauvage’s desire for the collection not to be confined by seasons or trends, more pieces will be added when the situation demands it. Ultimately, I think this particular promotional campaign could be seen as slightly pretentious and self-indulgent by some people, but I think that the fact Sauvage himself is so heavily involved in the production and realisation of these projects shows that he truly is intrigued by fashion and styling and he really wants his designs and ideas to make a difference to the fashion world. I get the impression that being a designer isn’t solely a job for him – it is a way of life, and he wants to make a difference and an impact with his concepts and ideas.
Although the use of different types of print and digital media in fashion isn’t a new thing, it does seem to be increasing, particularly as exposure is able to be increased through the use of online campaigns and promotions. From high-end designers such as Alexander McQueen using a film hologram of Kate Moss during his 2006 theatrical catwalk show, to high-street brands such as Topman’s recent use of short films to showcase their Denim range – the use of more inspired methods of promotion is taking hold and creating exciting results. The A. Sauvage collection, and the partnership of Sauvage and Lamb represent a forward-thinking collaboration of designer and fashion-conscious celebrity which has produced some great, contemporary pieces which challenge the traditional concept and connotations of tailoring and in my opinion have successfully created some more open-minded interpretations of tailoring without compromising on the level of style. In the short but sweet words of Adrien Sauvage, when asked what his own personal interpretation of the word ‘suit’ is, he simply responded; ‘There is no right or wrong way around it. I suit therefore I am.’