From his atelier in Paris, a 19th century row house situated next to the beautiful Buttes Chaumont gardens, designer and artist Tillmann Lauterbach works with his close-knit team on his menswear collections. The designer has quickly become acknowledged for his standout fabric choices, artisinal techniques, clever juxtapositions and interesting points of reference. Having just shown his A/W13 collection during Paris menswear, Lauterbach speaks to AnOther about his continuous construction of the man's wardrobe, Joy Division and his travelling trunk…
How did the Joy Division title and theme for the collection come about?
I was inspired by the way the punk movement played with the codes of anarchy and how the post punk band Joy Division endorsed the energy of the past to create a modern style. I took a sort of holistic view on that movement and thought about whether it would be a good parallel of the modern man. The modern man is overwhelmed with choices; he needs to find his own identity. Breaking the codes is a key idea central to my design approach. I am always questioning the concept of luxury.
"Joy Division endorsed the energy of the past to create a modern style"
The choice of fabrics in the collection is very impressive, can you talk more about these?
The fabrics are carefully considered and we tried to apply interesting techniques. For A/W, we used silk, neoprene, textured pescada amarela fish leather, woollen mesh, and soft alpaca for shirting. We used felt from a traditional family-run Austrian felt-maker and had it printed in Italy to give it a modern edge. I like juxtaposing different fabrics and breaking traditional codes. I'm always very careful not to make a big statement that is without functionality. There are beautiful trousers made from Italian wool which combine an elegant yet relaxed feel; the classic trench is cut in tweed with a PVC coating for texture and purpose.
It's interesting how you have combined punk, a typically hard aesthetic with American sportswear references…
I always try and use to references in a subtle way; the focus always has to be the needs of the modern man's city wardrobe. In winter, I always find myself in a coat predicament. It's freezing outside but really warm on transport – what does one wear? In the A/W collection, we designed a jacket which has heavy isolating cotton on the outside and a luxurious, warming fabric on the inner.
"I'm always very careful not to make a big statement that is without functionality"
Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
There was one suit which was really hard work. It's made from super dense Italian cotton which is very difficult to sew. I had to abandon the idea of a kimono jacket in the same fabric. The needles kept breaking on the machine – we finally made the suit with 70 needles. It was a challenge. It's always very interesting to think how you envisaged the collection and then how you feel when you see it on the model; it's very different. The fun part of designing is piecing the collection together and making it working as a whole.
You work with an interesting team – a team at your atelier in Paris, family-run fabric houses and factories in Belgium…
The suppliers are an essential part of the collection. Part of the collection preparation is trying to find interesting suppliers. At the moment we are working with a leather workshop in Paris which is run by one man. He also works on leatherwear for Louis Vuitton. He has made a 1m by 2m trunk for us. The trunk will travel from Europe across the world. There will be city stops and less commercial destinations – a mountain top between Austria and Switzerland, woods in Berlin. This will serve as a travelling store where people can see the collection and place orders with one of our team.
Text by Laura Bradley