NEW YORK, United States — The games in Rio are a year away, but Felipe Oliveira Baptista got the jump on Olympic fever with his spring collection for Lacoste. It's something he's already familiar with — Rio will be the second time Lacoste has dressed the French team — so meeting the demands of high performance clothing comes naturally to him. But, today's show highlighted how much more Baptista has brought to the Lacoste formula. Rene, himself an Olympic tennis medalist in 1924, would be thrilled. He was, after all, the man who once said, "Without style, playing and winning are not enough."
Something as simple as showing downtown in daylight — in the wide-windowed Spring Studios, as opposed to the theatrical cocoon at Lincoln Centre — made a difference for Baptista. He said he was more aware of airiness, and if that awareness was responsible for the billowing dress in sheen-y green parachute nylon, then all power to it. Likewise the floaty wind coats.
He also said he was thinking about athletes wrapping themselves in their home flags for a victory lap when he created the geometric colour-blocked patterns that gave the collection its graphic spine. Baptista offered them top to toe, as uniform as the military because, he claimed, the Olympics and the army demand the same kind of discipline. That claim was a cue for military detailing, like the bellows pockets on khaki coats, or the silver flight suits, even if they were actually an autobiographical flourish on Baptista’s part because his father was a pilot.
The fact he’s been able to inject his own story into the Lacoste mainline is a measure of how much Baptista feels his job. In this fusion of elegance and physicality, there was a clarity reminiscent of Helmut Lang. And how bad can that association be?