"Flamboyant" is the word that best describes Nicolas Lecourt Mansion's fourth and latest collection. The winner of the 2019 ANDAM Creative Label Prize (dotted with a 100,000€ financial grant and a year-long professional mentorship) presented his latest collection at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris today. Featuring fierce evening and cocktail numbers with rich embellishments, Mansion's glamorous collections have already convinced celebrities such as pop star Rita Ora, queer activist and artist Kiddy Smile, and top model Kendall Jenner, who have all been spotted wearing his designs. Produced with the support of the ANDAM Prize, Nicolas Lecourt Mansion's current collection, as well as the upcoming one, will be sold for two consecutive seasons at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris – a milestone for the young designer. We met Nicolas at his Paris Fashion Week debut and discussed his ANDAM win, and his take on fierce fashion and sustainability.
You seem particularly fond of surface design and drawings – a lot of creative prints and motifs are adorning the pieces of your 4th collection. Can you tell us more about your love for embellishments?
Nicolas Lecourt Mansion: Paris-based artist Vava Dudu worked with me on several of the pieces from this collection. In fact, I've always loved drawing and sketching, first and foremost, before I even started to love fashion. Clothing and craftsmanship have always been inspiring for me, from a very young age. Fashion illustration is what made me discover and love fashion. Before even being fascinated with clothes, I was obsessed with illustrations and fashion magazines. I remember it like it was yesterday! I was 13 years old, stuck in Strasbourg, and all I had to escape was my Vogue Paris subscription. There, I discovered amazing illustrations and editorials – I precisely remember a cover story with Noémie Lenoir and Laetitia Casta. This is how everything started.
Why did you actually decide to study fashion?
NLM: I was a terrible student. High school just wasn't for me. Before studying at Atelier Chardon Savard in Paris, I just immersed myself in fashion and learned anything I could on my own. I started exploring drawing and sketching first, and then I tested my mother's sewing machine and experimented a bit. Like I previously said, I used to be quite a lousy student, so fashion has always been a form of escapism for me. When I finally had the opportunity to study fashion design in Paris, I realized that a whole new life chapter would start. I was finally leaving Strasbourg to pursue my dreams. I moved to Paris and surrounded myself with people who are now close friends, such as Raya Martigny and Dustin Muchuvitz (editorial note: two Paris-based models that are very active and reputed in Paris' LGBTQ+ scene). They inspire me a lot. Overall, I felt like my entourage and the teachers and fellow students at Chardon Savard understood what I wanted to do, and this motivated me to go even further…
…until you won the ANDAM Creative Label Prize!
Being an ANDAM winner is a real blessing, and at the same time, it is the culmination of a lot of work and self-exploration. It is a true relief to know that esteemed professionals of our industry acknowledge me and my work! In a way, it shows that I am doing the right thing. What matters most to me is to pave my own path. After completing my studies three years ago, I started to freelance for various fashion designers. I did multiple jobs in various fields in order to understand how the industry really works from the inside out. I've never been an intern even; I just wanted to work, to prove to myself and to others that I can make it. I've also worked for Florence Doré (editorial note: a famed Paris hostess agency). There, I learned a lot about event and fashion show production. Once I was confident enough to design my own pieces, I decided to start my own brand instead of working for major luxury houses. I am not perfect; I am still learning and making mistakes. But I have learned enough about the creative and the business side of the fashion industry to be able to do this on my own.
How did your collections evolve throughout the past years?
My very first collection was very eclectic; in fact, it was almost chaotic. This ultimately motivated me to focus on strong storytelling in order to establish creative guiding principles for my collections. "Flamboyant" and "fierce" are the words that come to my mind. Having said that, even if my evening wear pieces and cocktail numbers are highly feminine, I don't like to "gender" clothes. I find that gender is often unfairly attributed. I never really understood why clothes designed on a female mannequin could not actually dress a man's body. Clothes are here to make you feel good, to make you feel confident, to make you feel in control – to emphasize your attitude, confidence, and freedom. And everybody needs that.
Some people would say that it doesn't make any sense to start a new fashion brand today, as garment manufacturing poses considerable harm to the environment. How do you feel about this statement?
The industry needs to change, and we are all aware of this. At some point, I even questioned myself and reconsidered my own career path…"Does it still make sense to start a fashion brand today?" I asked myself. I hesitated at first, but, in the end, I've realized that I won't be able to initiate positive change if I am not part of this industry. The luxury and fashion industries are employing hundreds of thousands of people. Just giving up on them is not the solution. It won't solve anything. As a matter of fact, we, the designers, the brands, the press, the buyers – and anyone else who contributes to this system – have to join forces to make the fashion industry more sustainable. I always take great interest in fabric sourcing and clothes manufacturing. I make sure that my collections are based on ethical principles. Sourcing and producing everything in France, as I do, makes it much easier to control the entire production process and ensure that it is not harmful to the environment. Even if the current environmental crisis is a real dooms-day scenario, I am very positive about the future. I genuinely believe that we can be actors of change, all together, step by step.