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Maxime Simoëns rolls out the red carpet… in the gym

 

A celebrity darling, adored by everyone from Beyoncé to Léa Seydoux, designer Maxime Simoëns has turned a page on women’s fashion and is back on form with his first collection of menswear inspired by sportswear.

Portrait: Mathieu Baumer

 

It’s 2001. Maxime Simoëns, barely 17 sees Madonna live in concert. It’s a revelation. The aspiring film maker starts to imagine life designing clothes for superstars. After a taking a course at the Chambre syndicale de la couture and a meteoric rise, his dream became reality. This “new Yves Saint Laurent”, as some were calling him after his first collection in 2009, quickly seduced Beyoncé, Blake Lively, Léa Seydoux… And the LVMH group who decided to fund development of his label. And yet in 2014 Maxime Simoëns’ woman walked the catwalk for the last time. Now the thirty-something is back and has turned a sharp corner with his new brand M.X Maxime Simoëns, a first menswear collection that’s resolutely urban and inspired by sportswear, understated and laid-back. The designer has lost none of his sense of detail or cutting precision. An encounter...

 

Numéro: Making your come-back with a menswear collection was the last thing we expected. Why this choice?

Maxime Simoëns: My beginnings as a designer were marked by an insatiable desire to express myself, to show who I was. Women’s fashion allows for a creative explosion and it has fewer restrictions than men’s fashion, so it struck me as the natural path to follow. But a sort of weariness had set in. After seven intense years, I felt the need to reconnect with reality.  I didn’t want my creations to be worn only by stars on the red carpet, but by real people in the street. Men’s fashion allows me to move away from that phantasmagorical creation. It imposes stricter rules. Men have more classical expectations. So adding a creative twist becomes an exciting challenge.

 

 

“I want to make understated clothes for strong personalities, and not the other way around.”

 

 

 

What type of man are you designing for?

I imagine him to be anchored in reality, aware of what’s going on in the world and in his era, someone au fait with new technology, with a busy social life. The spirit of M.X is sporty, but also very much about a collective. The notion of a gang is very important to me. That’s why my first video focuses on a group and why I decided to show my first collection in June in Paris, within a wardrobe where several guys are getting changed at the same time.

 

The collection focuses on a pretty classic virility…

Yes but with an assumed non-conformity, it’s very inspired by chavs and English lads. I was thinking about Sean Penn. I’m not addressing fashion addicts, but more real men who are able to re-appropriate the pieces in their own way. I want to create understated clothes for strong personalities, and not the other way round. 

 

 

 

 

Would you say it was a sportswear collection?

No I don’t think so. Highlighting sport, more as a collective activity in fact, in my iconography is a way of radicalising my discourse. I wanted a distinctly masculine message, which won’t be at all obvious for anyone who might have followed my approach up to today. But it’s not a sportswear collection. Yes it true you’ll find some sporting influences in the details, but there are also suits and parkas.

 

What was your biggest challenge for this first menswear collection?

Men have a very defined wardrobe. The essential challenge is to reinvent basic pieces with materials, precise cuts and details that make all the difference. With me the classic trouser is inspired by a sweat pant. The material is more fluid. I even added a waxed cord with a metallic finish that adds a more sophisticated and contemporary touch to the ensemble. For this season I focused on a low key palette – grey, khaki, blue, black and red – with a reinterpretation of the camouflage motif as a powerful print. 

 

 

What does your new logo mean, this circle and a line?

For me it evokes the symbol for the ON/OFF button on a computer or television. It perfectly embodies the very technical side to my label with the important work on metallic details, the buttons in particular, and its world inspired by cars through the cuts and minimalism. The name M.X, that’s a reference to Mr. X, because I want to reach the widest number of people, and to the notions of desire and interdiction. Seduction is also very present in this first collection, even if it’s discreet. 

 

 

M.X Maxime Simoëns will be opening a boutique in the Marais, Paris in September. 

www.mxparis.fr

 

Interview by Thibaut Wychowanok

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