Pierre Mahéo

Clothes that are accurate in their universality, which focus on comfort before form (the height of elegance). Pierre Mahéo, the founder of Officine Générale, advocates consistency, duration and reality.

What nourishes your style, what is the source of your inspiration?
There is a large part of French and cinematographic inspiration from the end of the 60s, what we call the new wave with my favorite actors: Belmondo, for whom I have a real weakness, Piccoli, Montand... Their gestures of the time have been lost today. Everything about them was evocative: the way they held their cigarettes, the way they wore their clothes, the way they carried themselves. Since the leather jacket arrived, the tie has come undone, the look seems to have changed completely... And yet they are ultimately the same products. It's simply fascinating. This new wave lives up to its name, since it comes and returns, and proves to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration. I continue to watch, to rediscover films, a detail can emerge, and come back two years later like a seed that will nourish me.
There is this district of Saint-Germain, in which I am lucky to live, whose terraces I have been able to enjoy, like everywhere I go, whether in Tokyo, New York or Ibiza. You have to take the time to watch people pass by, there will always be something, a play of colors, a shape, a detail that was borrowed before becoming property. I work on my collections by taking notes which then flow into my Parisian world. Taking the time to look is ultimately the preliminary to all creation.

Who are the people who constitute references for you in your profession?
There's someone I adore, one of the last French actors who still manages to exude the energy of this new wave, it's Vincent Lindon. It's the only one that I think has the codes of this generation. He is extremely precise in what he wears: always the same suit, the same shoes... Ultimately the same way of wearing things, of combining vintage in his outfits. He has a real passion for clothing without ever talking about it, except privately. He is never dressed by a stylist, because he knows himself perfectly. When you get to know yourself, know what you like and suit you, everything becomes obvious, an appropriation beyond even your own will.
A bit like Vadim on the port of Saint-Tropez with his white t-shirt and espadrilles: no one has done better. We had these Godards, these Truffauts, these Jean-Pierre Léaud who knew how to carry things so well. We were treated to Steve McQueens and Marlon Brandos: American icons, while in France, we have this style and this way of carrying things that is much less obvious and so much more coded and nonchalant than the Americans. Nicholson, this giant of cinema, said it himself: “it all started with the new wave in France”. It's the same thing for women. I think of "César et Rosalie" with Romy Schneider, dressed in Saint Laurent from head to toe at all times, it's all the French style of that era which continues to infuse into the collections that we still see today. today.

Do you have a favorite subject, how do you approach it, what place does the subject ultimately have?
A real garment is the result of a beautiful design and a beautiful material. The dissociation of the two can only be a failure, suffice to say: half a garment! My grandfather was a tailor, he had fabric stores that he introduced me to by touching them. We must never forget that clothing is first and foremost tactile. The material is essential and sensitive. When I started Officine Générale in 2012, I immediately wanted to offer clothes that last, that age, that leave the marks of time on the fabric. This is what is both the most beautiful and the most complicated to achieve. I am not for disposable clothing, it already made sense to me at the time and it has become obvious to many of our customers.
Because the relationship with clothing is different when it is made to last, there is this form of complicity, of sentimental relationship which is built with the fabric which accompanies us.
We know the challenges of the need for novelty in fashion, the whole challenge for us - and it's exciting - consists of renewing an obvious shape, of continuing to twist a wardrobe. Making an oversized hoody or t-shirt is so easy, but offering a jacket that fits well depends on the meticulousness and detail of the cutting work... The magic, the perception of the difference finally happens when you wear the garment. From there, identity takes precedence, without glitz or superfluous glamour, the useless displeases me above all else. Objects must make sense and age, because only the obvious lasts. It is more difficult to renew simple products than to play with an extravagance that stuns and often fades away.

Are there references in design or architecture that speak to you more than others?
I like fairly raw shapes. I still have a passion for Tadao Ando, ​​his mix of concrete and wood, plants... His Casa Wabi in Mexico is a monument of beauty and simplicity with the terrace, the swimming lane at sea level, the wood raw and concrete walls. He achieves something phenomenal with just three elements.
Vervoordt, in the same way, uses a particularly restricted vocabulary which resembles the uniform, a sober and precise assembly between code of materials and forms which makes it both timeless and capable of evolving over time.
“This new wave lives up to its name, since it comes and returns, and proves to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration. »
You are talking about uniform, what is yours?
I only work by uniform, mine is structured around three colors: navy blue, white, gray, with a touch of sky blue and olive. I am dressed systematically and every day in the same way around these three colors. I wear two types of pants with white t-shirt and gray jacket. I gave up on color. I see too many fabrics every day to want to think in the morning. We sacrificed comfort on the altar of looks. What matters is knowing that I will look good in my clothes.

Constraint nourishes, you talk about the limited number of colors, materials… How would you describe your creative process?
I am incapable of creating a garment that I could not wear. My prism is not very broad, I see a form of honesty in what I offer. I don't want to fantasize about the other. It may be a limit and yet I do not see it as a constraint but on the contrary I accept my reality. To know how to create, you have to agree to know yourself. I design products that I want, in an almost autobiographical way ultimately. I stay in a specific universe but I want it to be ultra accessible/universal, humility always makes things elegant. This is also why I like spending time in my stores, serving certain customers who don't yet recognize me, who allow me to continue learning. I go out of my personal box only for color, because I want to offer my customers a wider choice than the one I wear on a daily basis.

What does this have to do with the control you have in your life, how do you deal with it?
I am a workaholic. I don't know about the station wagon. I can't stop, I need to experience things live. I passed milestones, I took the time to analyze myself to realize that we must break the principle of omnipotence, because we cannot work alone. You have to know how to surround yourself to find time and space for creation and style, this time of emptiness and calm which allows you to recharge your batteries and catch your breath. Losing perspective is a danger in my job. Knowing how to delegate means regaining power over creation and the product.
My personal and professional life are mixed, without real boundaries, I strive to give time back to creation but also to relationships. The luxury of time is that it is limited. When the weeks become too short, something needs to change.
“I am incapable of creating a garment that I could not wear. My prism is not very broad, I see a form of honesty in what I offer. I don't want to fantasize about the other. »
A favorite place to usually find yourself?
In our family home in the Luberon, or in the north of Ibiza with its red earth which fascinates me. I like being near the sea, which calms me because it echoes my childhood and Brittany where I was born. I'm also very comfortable in New York, it's a sort of second home that I miss a lot since I haven't been able to return there since February due to current circumstances.

Precisely, in New York, the Mercer designed by Liaigre (who recently left us) is an immutable hotel in which you systematically stay. Like a ritual... What are your rituals in life?
I am indeed very attached to rituals, I can stay in this same hotel without ever getting tired, ask for the same room, systematically have my coffee in the same place and dine in the same restaurant in New York, and eat the same thing for days . I believe that the immutable ultimately allows us to move forward, much to the chagrin of my wife! All these little fixed details, this almost daily methodology reassures me.

Is this a way to free up bandwidth, to not miss something to stay focused?
Yes completely, as for athletes ultimately, it's about putting yourself in the right conditions, psychological and physiological. Without them, performance does not exist. We come back to this notion of comfort which is essential to me. This hotel, the Mercer, has become a landmark, it provides me with visual rest, an immutable landmark that does not get in the way of my journey, that allows me to keep track.

Do you have a favorite object? How much does he weigh ?
My old watch that I have worn for over 25 years, weight care has become necessary on my wrist. My balance was created in relation to this precise weight.
I have other watches, bought on impulse, but I can't wear them, only this one soothes me, it creates a void, an absence when I don't feel this unique weight which characterizes. So I promised myself not to buy any more watches.
My second favorite object would be Converse, which I wear all year round and which I will wear all my life, I dream of a partnership with Converse.

If le gramme were a piece of clothing, what would it be?
A navy blue coat in 900g double cashmere, hardwearing…
“The luxury of time is that it is limited. When the weeks become too short, something needs to change. »



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