A key face on the Paris fashion scene is Pascal Monfort who works for Nike France, was lead singer of cult band The Shoppings and is also a professor of fashion. In 2013 he debuted his new band Vanités inside Colette during men’s fashion week, we asked him about the project and how he interprets the new generation of fashion designers in Paris.

Hey Pascal, first off, we have to discuss the following, you’re a professor of fashion, really? For how long?

Exactly, I’ve been teaching from 1999 since receiving my degree at University. I was 24 when I started to teach fashion sociology & history of Fashion. I was younger than many of my Students and had to wear fake glasses to look a bit older. I have never stopped teaching from that time, even if I have spent the past 8 years doing a full time job at Nike, Consumer Culture & Innovation Director.

So you lecture, where, and on what kinds of subjects specifically?

I teach at the best fashion marketing schools (IFM, ISEM, MOD’SPE…) I teach fashion sociology (how to use research and methodology to understand consumer behaviour and anticipate trends …) I also teach history of fashion (from XVIII Century to NOW)
Finally, I teach a program about fashion & music at University of Lyon II. Currently I’m working with a politics expert (Samitr Hamal) on writing a program on FASHION & POLITICS for the famous school Sciences Po, yeah !!!!

Which are the main fashion schools of France, and what does each have to offer?

I just work for fashion business schools so I don’t really know what is going on with fashion schools even if I know their names: Studio Berçot, Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, ESMOD, Atelier Chardon Savard… I don’t want to talk about things that I don’t know but I guess they’re not as "famous" as Saint Martin’s in London or FIT in NYC. I mean they’re not really ‘big star makers’ if it makes sense. It is kind of sad. I don’t get why.

You used to be in a band called The Shoppings which I think is the best cult fashion band EVER. How many singles did you release? And which faces/people from the Paris fashion and street-wear scenes appeared in your videos?

Yeah, The Shoppings is cult I guess, every single French Fashion magazine has talked about the band. In WWD, we had a full back cover page. A newspaper called our music fashion rock haha. The Shoppings did a full LP including 12 tracks but we only released one single. In each video we invited a guest from the Fashion world, so Jeremy Scott appeared in a video for the track ‘Colette’ (about the store) and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in the video for the song, "Tu fais quoi dans la vie?"

Your lyrics and delivery captured the young fashion scene in Paris, can you quote a few of your best Shoppings lyrics?
This is hard to translate…but for those who can read French..

"Rue Saint Honoré,

pour totu dévaliser,

Lanvin, Gucci et 14 ensemble Chloé,

Mannequin très grande,

Tu ne peux pas miser petit,

Elle est parti,

T’as pas su honorer Paris"

"Le Baron est plein à craquer ce soir,

Le Lycaon va sévir dans le noir,

Chemise Margiela sortie du placard,

Soulier Helmut Land, jean Slimane bâtard"

"Lycaon raffole des belles à talons

Semi-mannequins, mi-comédiennes bidons,

Artistes en herbe, étudiantes à Chardon

Filles à papa, amoureuses de p’tits cons"

Let’s move onto today, you’ve started a new project called Vanités? Tell us about the project…

Vanités is my new project. I write the lyrics and sing, the music is composed by different friends of mine (In Berlin, London, France)
Acid Washed Record Makers is producing everything. This is like the second Chapter of The Shoppings, more electro and more personal. I just start doing some short live shows, a vidéo + tracks are coming soon on the web… Be aware. I’m playing in Copenhagen next Thursday.

Why did you start this project?
Because I LOVE writing songs and I have got a lot to express so… I also love being on stage, it’s as simple as that. I started my own consulting agency for big fashion companies and medias, it’s a lot of work and a lot of stress so making music is my therapy and my life coach. In a song, you can say what you can’t during a business meeting, see?

Any juicy lyrics haha?!

"Ma parisienne n’aura jamais de UGG boots,

Elle trouve ça môche pas de doute,

Elle sait que ça me dégoûte

Ma parisienne, elle regarde pas la télé,

Ne veut jamais cuisiner

Elle veut qu’on l’emmène dîner"

chorus :
"Mal à l’aise, devant la Newyorkaise, mal à l’aise devant la milanaise.

Trop timide devant la londonienne, moi je suis trop amoureux de ma parisienne"

Paris is known for the big brands but there’s a new generation of designers emerging – Vaccarello, Julien David, Damir Doma, Olympia LeTan…. What overview can you give on this??

Julien David and Jacquemus are my new "coup de coeur" right now.
I like their sense of humor mixed with precision and clear vision. I feel like I totally get where they want to go and what they want to express. It is nice to see that we can always be innovative and fully modern. It’s nice to see that French "new school" designers perfectly integrate the idea of being Global! They don’t only talk to the French consumer or French journalists. Olympia Le Tan is an example of a lady who sounds "worldwide" Her creation expresses "le voyage", l’universelle or at least this idea of "small worlds" in a positive way. Books and literature are the best symbol of universality from my point of view and those designers are not just making clothes, they’re writing stories.

And where do you place "slow-fashion" collective Andrea Crews in all of this? How do you interpret what they add to the scene?

Andrea Crews is a gag of modern poets. I consider Maroussia, the head of design as part of my family. I love her energy, her sense of communion and her exceptional talent to bring good vibes. There’s something magical in this brand…but I don’t even know if this is a brand yet. I am planning to work with Andrea Crews soon, to define the future of the brand, I can’t wait because I am sure that we’ll have a great time and fantastic results. I loved what Andrea Crews did with giant UNIQLO for Christmas.

And what about Zahia Dehar??!? (girl in the centre of the French football escort scandal who has begun her own couture line of lingerie)

Who ?

Parisians can be quite critical and crushing so what encouragement would you give to any Parisians out there wanting to be the next Vivienne Westwood or start their own band??

Don’t listen to your "friends" and create your own destiny. Have fun, be sincere and work hard, work hard, work hard, WORK HARD.

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