Erwan Le Louër - Co Founder of le gramme
Creative Director of his own fashion house since 2008, Joseph has worked everywhere, from Paris to New York, for Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Givenchy and other labels. At just 36 years old, this gifted fashion designer, praised by Anna Wintour and spotted by the Kering Group early on in his career, continues to make his vision of women and fashion felt.
What feeds your style? What inspires you?
It's all about observing the women around me. They are my main raw material. I live and work surrounded by women: my mother, my two close friends Mélanie Huynh and Vanessa Traina, my team... I like to look at the way they dress, how they decide to live their lives, what vibe they give off, the desires they express - especially the ones they haven’t expressed yet.
Who are the people you really admire in terms of style/fashion?
The first is Tom Ford. I discovered him as a teenager while he was working for Gucci and then Saint Laurent. He inspired me for two reasons: he made me want to become a designer and he gave me the strength to come to terms with my own sexuality when I had low self-esteem, which didn’t really help me make friends. He represented a role model of professional and personal success. He didn’t try to hide the fact that he was different and turned it into his strength. I also look up to my parents. I admire their quality of life and their determination at a time when being a mixed couple - my mother is Chinese-American and my father is French with Spanish roots - was not very common. They chose to focus on family and their relationship with their children while building their respective careers. They are an example of harmony and I admire them a lot.
What compliment would you like to hear or hear again about your work?
It may not seem like it has got much to do with my job, but I like to know that people think I'm nice. We should put kindness first. You have to approach a design with kindness, as you should a woman's body, her life, the way she sees a garment or an accessory. I need to work in an atmosphere of gentleness and respect. I’ve surrounded myself with a team that shares the same values.
I lived in Tokyo as a child and spent three weeks there recently. The mix of energy and tradition inspires me and the contrast between the two is fascinating. New York, on the other hand, is the city that reflects who I am, the place where I can be myself. New York is like a book. It offers everyone who comes a blank page and you get to write your own story. No one is really from this city and we’re all part of the same story in the end.
How would you define who you are and how you live?
Simple things make me happy. If you pay attention, life is full of simple little joys and you just have to recognize and enjoy them. Children have this ability to live in the present. I try to keep this capacity for wonder, to be happy simply because I fall asleep next to the man of my life.
What themes run through your creative work?
I always start by exploring identity, because it’s something that I’ve been affected by. I had to find out what it was like to be French, Chinese, American, homosexual... There’s always a travel theme as well and I’m curious about crafts from all over the world. I look out for techniques from other places. I like to combine them and create something universal. My latest collection borrowed from my grandmother’s crochet techniques from the Basque Country and the patchwork stripes of Spain and Asia.
Who do you dream of dressing?
Audrey Hepburn, without a shadow of a doubt! She represents the height of femininity and coolness. I see her in a sublime deep black tailored suit, with her short hair and honest, simple sexiness, and flat, pointed shoes.
What is the biggest challenge in your job?
The most difficult thing is to liberate yourself from other people’s opinions, to keep listening to yourself, to follow your intuition and do what you intend to do. Because kindness isn’t always about doing what people want.
Do you have daily rituals that you follow?
I have a lot ! Part of the reason is that I'm quite superstitious, so I don't walk under ladders. And I have a routine: I’ve eaten two buttered slices of toast in the morning with my tea for as long as I can remember. And then there’s the reassuring discipline of working with a light box and systematically using the same type of pencil - a Pentel P205. I also have new rituals that come up, like knitting before I go to bed, which I’ve had for some time. I’ve just started again and I've already finished two sweaters!
Honestly, none. It comes down to kindness again. I respect people too much not to take their style into consideration, to try to understand their reasoning. Even vulgarity doesn't irritate me. I’ve decided to find it rather amusing.
Where’s your favourite spot, the place where you can usually be found?
My office with its large bright pink velvet sofa, in my house in the Hamptons, where I recharge my batteries, and at Sushi of Gari in New York.
Your most cherished object? How much does it weigh?
My husband gave me a medallion eight years ago, and I have worn it ever since. It’s engraved with our initials, an illustration from my favourite book (A Girl Who Loves Wild Horses, that my grandmother used to read to me) and my date of birth on the back.
What matters in life?
My family, both blood and of the heart. A family that will be joined in barely a month by our little baby, a little girl, a new woman who will inspire me all her life.
Which Le Gramme pieces do you own? How do you wear them?
I have a grey gold bracelet from Erwan that I wear every day. It's my only bracelet.
If Le Gramme was a garment, what would it be?
A perfecto in black leather, classic, cool, universal, unisex and timeless.