For Pierre Mahéo, consistency of dress is a form of elegance that he not only studies but has practiced for decades. He’s always admired people who, by choice, design, default, or whatever, stay true to their own style. He, too, continues to wear, and cherish, a timeworn pea coat.
“It’s about a sentimental relationship to clothing,” the designer offered backstage before the show, recounting how last fall, when his team was brainstorming this collection, he realized he wanted to just focus on the two colors he’s been wearing himself for the past 30 years or so. “I don’t want to change things, I want to perfect them,” he said.
Monochro-Mania therefore took shape as an ode to blue and grey, the two elemental colors of every Parisian wardrobe. For Mahéo, it was an essential exercise in exploring why he does what he does: why those colors, why he reinterprets them season after season, why continuity makes him happy despite the fashion pendulum’s inevitable swings. And, especially, expressing many things with a spare vocabulary, “in the same way that Serge Gainsbourg famously stuck to five pieces of clothing.” Or the way some other designers he admires—Giorgio Armani and Dries Van Noten among them—always take a bow wearing the same uniform, year after year.
For fall, the Officine General uniform might be a simple-looking T-shirt in wool jersey, layered over another and paired with matte wool trousers that are slightly more ample than they were last season. Here and there, Mahéo slipped in some iconic references, variously a military-inspired jacket that nods to the olive one worn by Al Pacino in Taxi Driver; a steel gray velvet jacket—perhaps worn with a touch of pink—that plays on Wes Anderson’s register; or a style of cape long favored by Prince. Here and there, a swirled print cropped up on a shirt and trouser, or a blue silk flower on a shirt.
On the runway, the clothes gave an overall impression of reassuringly chic Left Bank style, the kind of ease in dressing that has kept the register humming at the Officine Générale store on Lafayette Street. As of today, there’s a brand new outpost on the West Coast, in Pacific Palisades. And around the time this collection hits the sales floor, there will be yet another—on Madison Avenue, just a stone’s throw from Ralph Lauren.
BY TINA ISAAC-GOIZÉ
January 20, 2023