Somewhere In Between

One to watch during Paris Fashion Week these last days is without any doubt Belgian designer Jean-Paul Lespagnard. In 2008 Jean-Paul, he already drew the eye of the international fashion scene when he won two awards at the International Fashion Festival in Hyères (France), which led to the creation of a capsule collection for the French brand 123. In March 2011, he presented his first women’s ready-to- wear collection during Paris Fashion Week. Last Wednesday, he presented Somewhere In Between, his second ready-to-wear collection.

The collection is based on an allegorical scene: the fantasy of a divine dinner between basket players in the sumptuous dining room of Casa Grande, the magnificent building of the mythical Hearst Castle built on The Enchanted Hill, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, built this Castle for him and for his close companion and confidante, the silent film star Marion Davies. The 8000m2 cas- tle, filled with antiquities was the stage of legendary receptions thrown in the honour of movie stars, politicians and international celebrities.

If the castle would still be inhabited nowadays, who would be its guests? Who could represent social and cultural success in the contemporary American society at its best? Jean-Paul Lespagnard tries to answer these questions by inviting the beautiful people of the sports world and more specifically the cream of the crop in the basketball world.

His reflection results in a collection of one hundred pieces, a complete wardrobe linking the exoticism of flappers from the 20s and 30s to the more casual style of our current leisure clothing. The materials mix sports and luxury. The colour palette varies from white to various bright colours that refer to the flashy colours of basketball outfits. Lespagnard uses butterfly wing motifs in lurex, gothic-sports inspired prints and industrial embroidery used regularly in sportswear. The story completes itself with jewellery, shoes, bags, caps, scarves and belts.

The I Love Belgium team admires the at-first-sight easiness of the collection. But if you look closer, the pieces are much more intricate as you would have thought. A jacket becomes a dress, a dress can be worn in two different ways,... it shows the technical knowhow and versatility of Lespagnard. Something which was also stressed by the well respected fashion journalist Suzy Menkes who spent an hour with Jean-Paul in his showroom after missing the presentation. Afterwards she wrote "Jean-Paul Lespagnard, whose exceptionally clever cuts created transformable clothes that looked simple on his tiny showroom runway. He produced intriguing prints and an overall sport theme that looked smart, right and completely original."

We absolutely agree with Menkes. Lespagnard is like breath of fresh air that has entered the fashion scene. The succession of Belgian fashion is assured.

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