When is comes to fashion designers as a breed, Julien David is definitely one of the cool kids. His clothes are cool. His collaborations are cool. His no muss approach, the coolest. Maybe it’s because he intended, from the jump, to approach the business in his own way; perhaps the ease he oozes is quite planned.
For those who haven’t followed his story, the Frenchman left his home outside of Paris at just 19 to do none other than hit the big apple. At the time the intention was to kill graphic design; but boredom ensued and the track shifted. David enrolled in a two-year Parsons program instead, where he would learn the ropes of product design, interior design and alas, fashion design.
Post-Parsons notches on his belt came by way of internships at such houses as Ralph Lauren and Narciso Rodriguez; and in 2008,David launched his eponymous label with its own Davidian approach. Noted as describing his take on design as very “road less traveled,” David set out on a journey to redefine the way that luxury goods were presented in a world where so often similarities run rampant across the board. And he honed in on personal interests to accomplish this departure. Streetwear, for example was and continues to be at the helm of what David is doing. This real life, real time reference coupled with his schooling and work experience turned out to be a formula for success. The designer who relocated to Tokyo for quite some time before his recent move to London continues to produce in Japan today and maintains a flagship store in Tokyo. Other high-profile stockists include The Webster, Opening Ceremony, Dover Street Market and Net-a-Porter, to name a few.
Less than half a decade after launching his collection, David was honored with one of fashion’s most established prizes and the first public initiative in the promotion of on-the-rise fashion talents, the ADNAM (National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts). At the time, he had yet to launch menswear, he hadn’t launched accessories and he certainly didn’t have a store; but the award and its prizes–chief among them access to some heavy-duty advice–allowed him to expand more quickly. The ANDAM is designed with a mentorship component in place; and the year that David won, that mentor was Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and CEO for LVMH Fashion Group.
In just a year of following his business, Roussel was able to crucially help navigate David’s ship. Things like focus and fluidity reigned supreme in his teachings which included advice on how to be direct in what one is trying to communicate at all points in the career so that in this way, the references are clear for those who have followed the brand from day one as well as for those who have just become familiarized. The goal is to try to be inclusive.
David really took it to heart. Today, the base of his work is the same, even some of the collaborations and special projects he’s done with the likes of Quicksilver or Colette are very much David. The silhouettes and fabrications, the street references and the winks to art and music, all David. And we continue to watch as he delivers collection after collection of inspired looks.
For fall, the real life reference was one David does well: workwear. While the word conjures visuals of Charles Clyde Ebbets’ 84-year old photograph, “Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” David makes the clothes feel very modern, if not futuristic, with his fabric choices. Japanese stretch denim bonded with jersey let itself just so to create a sculptural collection that was at the same time cool and easy. Spiky silver hair lent a light Manga reference that was seen again on runways for his Spring ’17 women’s collection in greater strokes which just goes to show, you can take the boy out of Japan, but…