French tennis-centric sportswear label Lacoste recently announced Felipe Oliveira Baptista as their new creative director. The Portuguese designer’s credentials thus far include working at Max Mara and Cerruti, holding a degree in fashion design at Kingston University and perhaps most impressively, launching his own label in 2003. Now based in Paris, Baptista was recently interviewed by Dazed Digital to discuss his aims and visions for Lacoste, as well as his transition into the team. Key excerpts from the interview have been attached below:
Dazed Digital: Besides drumming up collections for your own namesake line Felipe Oliveira Baptista, you are now also heading up Lacoste. Stressed much? Tell me about your new life.
Felipe Oliveira Baptista: (Laughs). I have meetings all day, nonstop… And sometimes I have to fight with my PA’s: “Can you please do me one day without three million appointments, you know, I HAVE to design clothes” (laughs). Honestly, I’m not sleeping much. It’s pretty crazy, but it’s the beginning, so I need the time to learn.
Do you feel it’s hard to switch between Lacoste and your own brand?
No, I’ve always been working on the side, it’s just time that is really precious. But it’s a nice exercise to go from black to white. Actually, when I was picked for Lacoste, they thought I was interesting because I have my own label and it’s something creative and different.
So what are your visions for Lacoste?
I really want to make the brand more real and urban. Lacoste is all about color and up to now it’s almost like every season we did all the colors in the world. My idea is to create stories around color, create novelty and use color in a more subtle way to make it more realistic. That approach is quite different. I’ve also been working a lot on the evolution of fabrics, much softer, much more comfortable…
Are there typical stylistic references you want to maintain or get rid of?
There are a lot of things I like about the brand: the sportswear, the easiness, the chicness and the relaxed [attitude]. I think, not that they were lost, but Lacoste was almost too much in a retrospective image of just tennis and 1930s. The codes of the brand are so strong. My idea is to give them maximum coherence and to work around them. I really want to give the brand a stronger reference as an everyday casual easy-wearing brand with an urban edge.