Educated at the Haute Ecole d’art et de Design in Geneva and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, fashion designer Simon Lextrait graduated in 2014. Soon after, he launched his eponymous brand, which features geometric cuts, innovative materials and pragmatic pieces with a romantic soul. Taking an optimistic look at the ordinary, Lextrait’s poetic designs delve into the trivialities of everyday life, both a reaction to and a response against the designer’s surroundings and social behaviours. Fusing paradoxical ideas in order to create a fragile stability—but going much further than merely adding modern-day romanticism to the runway—his collections raise questions about the fashion industry itself, triggered by its tendency to reject the seemingly banal things of everyday life. Instead, Lextrait inhales and absorbs these ignored everyday pleasures, and incorporates them into his outstanding collections, subtly breathing life into all he creates.
Hi Simon! As the theme of Glamcult’s latest issue is ‘Pleasure’, how would you define this?
Hi, thank you for having me in this issue! I would say that I consider pleasure as the result of an accomplished desire, which aims to lead us to a form of happiness. I’m very interested in unraveling these processes, as the quest for pleasure is a contemporary collective concern.
What is your take on the concept of pleasure and how it can be obtained?
I believe that experiencing pleasure is peculiar to humans, it’s like a flow that drives us through life in a sweeter way. Approaching the idea of pleasures by accumulation is within reach but it can create the illusion of happiness. In my view, happiness is what pleasures lead to and it cannot only be achieved by excess. I think it’s all about finding a balance that feels right over time.
Would you say that your designs delve into the idea of ‘Pleasure’? And how do they achieve this?
My first collection was triggered by the tendency of the fashion industry to reject banality, which contrasted with my personal interest in the seemingly passionless things of everyday life. My designs are both a reaction and a response to my surroundings, mostly social behaviors. I don’t especially intent to evoke the idea of pleasure, although I guess it belongs to the process of sharing what I’m caring about.
What is your greatest achievement as a fashion designer so far?
Each collection is an achievement as I feel like I keep getting closer and closer to the heart of what I’m trying to say.
How would you describe the style and aesthetic you strive for and create?
I like to fuse paradoxical ideas together in order to create a fragile stability, something on the edge. I strive for poetic and pragmatic designs, and I’m always drawn to creating timeless styles. I’m myself rooted in reality but also a daydreamer. I think I reflect that duality in my work.
What is the narrative behind your most recent collections?
The latest collections all came up from different stories, whether inspired by movies or art pieces. I focus on a specific topic, which later gets fleshed out by daily observations. I mostly speak about the human condition, scattered souls and poetic realities.
Your brand focuses on the complexities and trivialities of everyday life. What are your views on the everyday and the way in which it can be woven into fashion?
The way we perceive the everyday is purely subjective. I take an optimistic look on the ordinary because I aim to promote a pleasing sobriety with my designs. The way we perceive trivialities influences how we consume and approach fashion in general. I believe it’s the right time to conceive clothing with consciousness and seek refinement through simplicity.
Your pieces, while demonstrating this sense of the ‘everyday’ and being pragmatic in style, often contain romantic elements and aspects of design. Does this romanticism underpin your work?
Yes, romanticism is inherent to my work. It allows me to explore complex ideas through an emphasis on emotions as well as glorification of the past and nature.
We really adored your latest collection. Where did the inspiration for this collection come from ?
It was inspired by Oscar Schlemmer’s ballet of geometry performed in the 1920s, and more generally, the Bauhaus movement. I feel very much connected to Schlemmer’s approach to the body and I chose to develop the SS18 collection 03 by questioning movement, dimensions and simple geometrical shapes.
Having studied in France, Switzerland and here in Amsterdam, which country do you feel better nurtures the young artist entering into the fashion scene?
Having an artistic background, for me Amsterdam has offered great opportunities for experimenting with fashion. At that time Paris was quite dusty, but it has revived itself lately. I feel it’s now a great place to enter the fashion scene.
What is your greatest everyday pleasure?
Chirping birds on sunny mornings.