Greg Lauren is never afraid to take an experimental approach to fashion design, and it’s easy to see his roots as a sculptor and artist in his raw and individualistic pieces. The chance to lend his unique vision to the immaculately constructed luxury outdoor collection of Moncler had long been a dream for him, so when he got a call from Moncler’s artistic director, Francesco Ragazzi, he was overjoyed.
In many senses, the collaboration—entitled Collide—is a match made in fashion heaven. As a brand, Moncler has long been at the forefront of creative partnership and innovation. ‘‘The ability to express thoughts, feelings, or sensations through artistic creations has always fascinated me,” says Moncler’s CEO Remo Ruffini. “Greg Lauren is first and foremost an artist, but also a designer who experiments with new languages. It’s this art of mixing things that led me to work with him. I wanted the iconic style of Moncler to be mixed with something else, almost as if to reveal a new identity. And that is what happened. The result is quite astonishing.”
Astonishing indeed. Always one for thoughtful conversation, we chatted with Greg Lauren to find out more about the creative process and vision behind this special collaboration. Scroll on to learn more from the designer himself and to see the collection of one-off pieces in motion.
The Window: What were your thoughts about Moncler before this collaboration?
Greg Lauren: I had always admired the collaboration that Moncler and Thom Brown did back in 2009. Moncler recognized how groundbreaking Thom Browne was right away. Over the years, I saw how ahead of the curve Moncler was, even as a more classic, heritage brand. They were always doing innovative things with great talents like Junya Watanabe and Pharrell. I was envious of those collaborations and how they were often just below the radar, because they were that cool. Once I launched my collection and people started talking to me about collaborations, I always wanted to do something at the level of Moncler—and specifically with Moncler! It was on my wish list.
How did you finally make it happen?
Literally, I got an email from Moncler’s art director, Francesco Ragazzi, and he simply said, “Hi Greg, we’d love to do a project with you.” It was so exciting. What made it even more exciting for me was that they didn’t have a plan or idea of what the collaboration would look like—they just wanted to work together.
Were you nervous to present your vision to them?
A lot of times, it’s hard for me to describe my vision—you really have to see it in person. As a creative person, new ideas don’t always make sense until they’re in front of you. The best moment for me with this collaboration was when I packed up the first round of samples and flew to Milan to show the Moncler team. The first thing Francesco said was, “Oh my god. This isn’t what I thought you were going to do.” My heart sank because I thought he didn’t get it. Then, he added, “But now I know why we called you,” and he smiled. It was so great. Then, Mr. Rafini saw it. He’s the opposite of me—I can ramble and ramble—he doesn’t waste words. He was silent and then said, “This is special.” I was in heaven.
Why do you think they liked it?
To me, a collaboration is successful if you dive in fully. I didn’t just want to draw on something or simply create some color ways—I wanted it to be a full collection that embraced the DNA of both of our companies. The project deconstructed what Moncler is about and combined it with my aesthetic to create something entirely new, while still clearly representing the two coming together. It achieved that.
How did you first approach designing the collection?
I started by looking at these iconic Moncler pieces that are simple, beautiful, meticulously crafted, colorful, shiny, and—I don’t mean this negatively—they are strikingly perfect. Not to mention, there’s this level of aspiration with them. Immediately, I knew I had to take it apart and rebuild each piece, giving it a soul and identity. I wanted to see if this idea of perfection could mix with the destroyed elegance that is who I am. The first piece I worked with was a shiny blue puffer. I thought—how far can I go with this at the other end of the spectrum? I took it apart and started mixing it with destroyed, vintage military scraps. To me, just seeing the process on the ground of my studio was beautiful. It was like this moment when two different instruments make sounds that are beautiful together. I knew at that point that the capsule had to be a complete collision of these ideas. I didn’t know that it would become the name at the time, but it makes so much sense.
What does “collide” mean to you?
The juxtaposition of familiar but completely different ideas is essential to what I do. It’s me exploring what I grew up around. At a very young age, I was exposed to this idea that you could be anybody you wanted to be, as long as you dressed the part. It wasn’t about right or wrong, it was about dressing the part. If one day you were Cary Grant, the next day Steve McQueen, and the next day someone who worked in a garage—as long as it was authentic, you could be that character. I started to question that growing up in New York City, having owned every great motorcycle jacket available to mankind but never actually having been on a motorcycle! I started questioning this idea and the meaning of these different archetypes. I started to question these ideas in my collections. Mixing very tailored suiting fabrics with destroyed denim or vintage military pieces. It’s about the idea of the duality in all of us and the irony in it too. It’s beautiful. In this case, I took something that is aspirational, heritage, and stands for the establishment, though not in a bad way. I destroyed it and put it back together creating these pieces that are one-of-a-kind.
How much does your background as an artist influence how you design?
When I approach designing, it always starts with the artistic questions that come directly from my time painting and my work as a visual artist. Whether it’s brushstrokes or fabric combinations, it always starts with: who are we? Who am I? Who are our heroes? I’m always looking around and asking questions like, why do we wear what we wear? It’s never about the latest trends, it’s about exploring why people are making the choices that they’re making.
Why do you think this collection will resonate with?
In the luxury world today, there’s a movement—and I think I’m part of it—where there’s a premium on individuality and creativity. That is the new luxury. Style, individuality, and expression done at an artistic but wearable level have risen in importance. It’s about the uniqueness more than the cost or label. It’s an exciting moment because things have to grab ahold of different demographics to really take off, so there’s a mixing of different ideas. There’s an ironic twist to taking this perfect thing and making it raw and giving it a different soul and attitude that it didn’t have before. I think that strikes a chord right now with both the person that wears the original Moncler and for the person who wears Greg Lauren.
What do you want people to think about the collection when they see it?
I am never one to try to explain the meaning. I like to leave that up to the customer. I firmly believe that people no longer want to be told how they should dress. People are making up their minds because everyone’s more aware than ever. I was from a generation of this is how you should look, this is what you should wear, this is the world you should have. I have dispelled with that notion, and it’s instead all about being your own artist with your own voice.