When it comes to design, Lucca Lamoine has a lot to say. The French designer is something of an aficionado of mid-century modern architecture, furniture and art, having spent his formative years soaking up their influences. His passion led him in 2019 to establish Verlan, a Paris-based clothing label that's so much more than a clothing label. While it's built around a core offering of streetwear-inspired staples like raw denim jeans and soft cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts, Verlan is steeped in culture. The label's Cabinet de Curiosités is evidence of its influences beyond fashion. It's a place where the various worlds of the arts collide, representing everything the brand stands for.
We caught up with Lucca to learn more about his rich background in design and the influences that underpin Verlan and have helped to inform the Cabinet de Curiosités.
Where does your passion for design stem from?
My passion for design stems directly from my family and more precisely my father. He has been passionate about design since his adolescence and is a total self-learner. He has a unique eye and sense of aesthetic that always inspired me. Around the age of 30, he was one of the first to pay attention to French mid-century designers like Jean Prouvé, Jean Royère and Le Corbusier (who is actually Swiss).
But beyond mid-century design, he is the master of arranging objects, which are at first sight totally different, in a harmonious and perfect balance. For instance, Japanese bamboo baskets and Kokeshi dolls on the shelves of a Charlotte Perriand bookcase, a piece of driftwood on a Jasper Morrison coffee table, Amazonian feather headdresses next to a Marc Newson chair… With my little brother Simon, we’ve grown up with this design aesthetic and philosophy around us — we have grown in galleries, museums and I think that’s definitely where our passion came and still comes from. It fuels everything.
Where do you seek creative inspiration?
In life. Past, present and future. Everywhere at the intersection of people, space and culture, I just try to keep my eyes wide open. In daily life as when looking at my family, my friends, when watching at people while being at the park or while having a beer at a café. But, also during trips, when going to the cinema, when reading a good book, listening to some music or just by going through a tone of archives.
However, I try not to only focus on watching, what’s important is to use all our senses in order to grasp the most amount of information possible. The complex interplay of the outside world and our personality creates our emotions, the latter then creating our inspiration. In the end, I don’t really focus on clothing but much more on people, their behaviour, space, colours, light and how everything interacts with each other inside of me.
What designers do you look up to?
My favourite designers are Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Jean Royère and Serge Mouille. They all came out in a period of vivid post-war cultural bubbling. A time when people needed architecture and objects that were inspiring, affordable and solid, functional and beautiful and — importantly — easy and cheap to manufacture.
Their priority was to build to enhance people's lives while seizing the stakes of the decades (the emergence of new social classes who were asking for living standards). A lot had to be reconsidered. As a response, they managed to build innovative, flexible and enjoyable designs in relatively small places that rearranged the social space, while always respecting the environment. In other words, they always strived to do more with less, looking forward. That’s something very inspiring for me and Verlan.
How would you describe Verlan’s approach to design?
To put it simply, we are, at Verlan, standing on the shoulders of giants. We are passionate about good design and that good design influences everything we do. From our philosophy that is focused on a 'more with less' lifestyle to the design of our products and more specifically, to the inspiration behind our Grosgrain signature that is available on almost all our garments. Throughout the 17th century, grosgrain fabric was used as the fabric body for many garments, including waistcoats and jackets, as a cheaper alternative for the lower socio-economic demographic than fine-woven silk or wool. However, circa 1920s it fell out of favour as a garment fabric and was defined identically to contemporary terminology as a grosgrain ribbon. Grosgrain ribbon is our signature and can be found on almost our products in different colours and width depending on where we place it, as shoulder straps for jackets and coats, on side splits for T-shirts or inside the cuff for jeans. It corresponds to our interpretation of Le Corbusier polychromy play in directing man’s gaze.
How has your love of vintage furniture bled into your design work for Verlan?
Vintage furniture blends in a whole lot. The objective of Verlan is to build a community around a shared culture that can be summarised in “Share Ideas, Protect the planet, Have Fun”. Culture is what gathers people. And in order to gather minds, to convey our ideas, we choose to play on many different areas of our lives. The clothing we dress with, the furniture we have in our house, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, our favourite places. Of course, clothing plays the role of central vector of that culture, but it’s not the only one.
What was the motivation behind creating Verlan’s Cabinet de Curiosités?
I love to figure out the contradictions of the people I have in front of me (this certainly comes from my mother who is a psychologist) because I found that is the beauty of human beings. Similarly, I love to play with opposites and in the same way as my father, I like mixing things together and figuring out how the whole can become harmonious and consistent.
That’s why we created the Cabinet de Curiosités, a place where we can communicate with our community on something other than just fashion. A place where we can communicate about all our other passions: furniture, music, movies, places, our “rogue gallery”/family album, and soon many other things.
Can you talk me through some of the key limited edition and collectible products that are part of the Cabinet de Curiosités?
I will then tell the story behind the design pieces made by Pierre Jeanneret as it constitutes a very interesting story. First, it’s important to recognise that Pierre Jeanneret is Le Corbusier’s cousin. In 1950, at the invitation of Nehru (India’s Prime Minister), the two men were the project managers for the construction of the city of Chandigarh, designed to become the capital of the State of Punjab, after the Indo-Pakistan war. For fifteen years, Pierre Jeanneret devoted all his efforts to that project.
On a surface larger than that of the city of Paris, for a population that today exceeds one million inhabitants, what was involved was building not only a business district, an industrial sector and an administrative quarter, but also thoroughfares, residential neighbourhoods, and of course all the furniture for the different buildings they created. For instance, the University of Chandigarh, the Court of Justice, the city’s Hospital and many private housings.
What do you consider to be the importance of designing products in limited editions?
We don’t want our products to be seen as just commodities but as pieces that will stay with you for a long time, just as a good piece of vintage design. We source the best Japanese and Italian fabrics, we source from the best workshops in Portugal, Italy and France. Our products are made to last a very long time and we are proud of it. That’s also the reason why all our products are lifetime guaranteed.
Indeed, our objective has always been to conceive the garments of the finest quality, always being fully transparent about our processes. Consumer habits are evolving towards a more inclusive, transparent and circular fashion. And in order to respond to these new challenges and opportunities, we have been the first ready-to-wear brand to integrate some Blockchain technology in all our products. Each brand label depicts a unique identification number and acts as an unfalsifiable digital passport for all the chapters occurring in our garment’s lifecycle.
More specifically, before purchasing a Verlan product, the potential customer can scan the QR code with their smartphone to be certified that the product is truly authentic – so not counterfeited. Also, they can access the story behind the garment: the inspirations, the fabric's origin and the manufacturing steps.
Then, after a Verlan product has been purchased, the client can register themselves as the owner and communicate directly with Verlan through the Arianee smartphone app. As they see fit, they could transfer the ownership right – subject to a monetary transaction or not – to the new owner, thus prolonging the lifecycle of the garment, thus favouring a more durable and circular fashion.
Through this method, each of our garments becomes linked to Blockchain technology, reinventing the brand-to-customer relationship around notions of respect, confidence and transparence.