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The sailor sweater

History of fashion

We have already celebrated the B l a zer, the Caban andthe Trench , which have in common that they were designed as sailors and/or soldiers before crossing two centuries of history marked by as much torment as creative breath .

The Sailor is part of the same saga and now is the time to give her the place she deserves in our wardrobe which, without being sailor or soldier, is no less committed.

Long-sleeved undershirt, with narrow blue stripes on a white background, the garment appeared in the 19th century as an official uniform in the Tsarist navy. History records that the Russian admiralty drew its inspiration from the jersey that certain Breton fishermen or sailors wore for a very specific functional purpose. The stripes were apparently intended to better identify in the waves the unfortunate person who was going overboard. Derisory security, centuries before the invention of Argos beacons, but the birth of a myth, the striped undershirt was sailor by destination and destiny.

Our national navy, in turn,  then the Dutch navy decreed this undershirt a regulatory uniform, which seemed destined for an exclusive career in the navy.

However, just like the Blazer, the Peacoat and the Trench, our Marinière would access the Pantheon of iconic fashion totems, made to cross “forests of symbols” to speak as Baudelaire in Correspondances. Born Russian under the tsars, it became Soviet with the October Revolution, then artists, poets and creators seized it to offer it a life outside its military paths.

Coco Chanel appropriated it at the end of the Great War, seeing in this simple and masculine garment a way of liberating the female body, the founding mantra of the Chanel universe. Sea bathing was not yet a popular leisure activity, but the first sailor top, in Rodier jersey, created by the high priestess of fashion in her boutique in Deauville, would inspire the waves of designers who followed one another.

Karl Lagerfeld, as evidence and a quote, never failed to design striped sailor tops for the House of Chanel for its collections, including in its last ones, shortly before his death. His 2018 collection was titled Cruise , which was obviously no coincidence.

So many others, if not all other designers, paid homage to the striped undershirt.

Sonia Rykiel, the “Queen of Knitting”, designed it with rainbow stripes, then returned to ritual drawing, blue stripes on a white background, in his latest collections .

In our “forest of symbols”, Jean- Paul Gaultie wears sailor top like a second skin .

He made it the emblematic and almost ritual garment of his brand since the launch in 83 of his famous Boy Toy collection. Horizontal bands have become the Gaultier signature, including for his famous Le Mâle perfume line.


In my intimate mood board, you would find Jean Seberg in Breathless, Brigitte Bardot in Le Mépris, who wore the sailor top with nonchalance and total freedom. You would also see the photo of Picasso in his Mougins studio, alongside an image of Gondoliers in Venice wearing their traditional striped jersey, like a more romantic uniform than those of the Tsarist navy! There you would furtively meet the Mime Marceau in his striped sweater, giving silent and moving life to Bip, his character from the brotherhood of hypersensitive HSPs that I frequent daily.


In short, I am not going to close the door of my bric-a-brac behind me, without mentioning the installation exhibited at Colette in 2011, dedicated to the Marinière. There held their place in majesty, Hermès, Chanel, Comme des Garçons... Bringing a piece of clothing into Colette, the late concept store on rue Saint-Honoré, was a bit like dubbing it an immortal piece. I look back on it with a little nostalgia, because shortly before Madame Colette Rousseaux closed this unique confluence of all trends in 2017, it was there that the visual artist Blair Chivers screen-printed an old Uniqlo t-shirt for me of these words Never EVER give up... Blair's exhibition was called Life is great...

I came out of my illness exhausted, but nevertheless, Life is great, and here I am today with you and for you, determined to continue the creation of our Engaged Vestiaire.

The time has come to design and produce the Marinière which will carry our ideals in its fiber:

do something beautiful, do good, do it well.

For these purposes, with Mathilde and Virginie, we scoured the factories of the Florence Region, the world capital of knitting and which conceals within its walls some treasures of humanity, including the Birth of Venus by Botticelli and David by Michel -Angel.

It is therefore in Prato, 20 kilometers from Florence, in Federico's workshops, that your Marinière will be produced. Neither Federico nor we will have the audacity or the immodesty to compare ourselves to the great masters of the Renaissance, but the fact remains that the places contain so much patina and age-old traces of creative genius that it will perhaps have imbued us , even without our knowledge .

But let's stay with our feet on the ground. We selected the Federico factory because it gave us the assurance of making your Marinière well .

“Zero waste”, its threads, ecru and black, come from existing stocks.

Material composition (30% wool, 35% polyamide, 30% viscose, 5% cashmere) entirely recycled, everything is certified “Global recycled standard”.

Its manufacturing consumes less than 60% energy, less than 60% water, less than 30% chemicals, less than 75% CO 2.

The epaulette buttons are Oeko Tex certified and are made near Lyon.

Our Marinière is well born.

All that remained was to baptize our creation with a name that evokes the open sea.

We gave him the name WILLIAM, in homage to one of the two William Hawkins, or both, that the land and the sea have borne. The first explored Brazil in the 15th century, the second set up one of the first British trading posts in India in the 17th century, two authentic navigators of the same name.

Free man, always you will cherish the sea !

The sea is your mirror, you contemplate your soul

[…] Baudelaire, him again.

Free woman, too, you will cherish the sea... our Sailor in your mirror.

Meet from July 29 to August 4 to reserve it, and second week of October to finally bundle up!

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