Circa 2000, the ne plus ultra of cashmere sweaters was made by Lucien Pellat-Finet. It was a highlighter pink or other neon-bright crewneck instarsia’d with a skull, and it came with a four-figure price tag as hefty its four-ply Scottish yarn. Today, like other Y2K phenomena, the label is positioned for a comeback. Thierry Gillier, the founder of Zadig & Voltaire who’s made cashmere a specialty of his own over the last 20 years, bought the brand in 2019, and just named Dryce Lahssan as its new creative director.
Lahssan is a Paris-based fashion consultant known for pushing buttons, with clients that have included Mary Katrantzou and Michael Halpern. He launched an eponymous label dedicated to the trench in 2010, carving a niche for himself in a city dominated by super-brands. His by-appointment boutique on the rue Molière boasts a doorbell engraved with the words, protect me from what I want, lifted from a piece by the artist Jenny Holzer. Lahssan feels a kinship with Pellat-Finet, who he thinks of as a provocateur. “Lucien took cashmere and made it Pop,” he said via phone, pointing out that the designer hung out in Warhol’s Factory on his travels to the U.S. “Nobody was putting skulls and cannabis plants on cashmere before him, and now everybody does.”
Before Lucien Pellat-Finet launched his business nearly 30 years ago, cashmere was as bourgeois as can be, stuffy and prim. “It was a thing of the 1%,” Lahssan remarks. Now, of course, it’s sold everywhere from Hermès and Loro Piana to Uniqlo, at different quality levels and price points. (As a rule, the longer the hair fiber, the less likely the yarn is to pill and the more expensive it’s likely to be.) How do you disrupt a category so omnipresent and essential? “I want to transgress. If you have the means and the platform, it’s a duty to push things forward,” says Lahssan. “Some of visuals are challenging because they’ve fallen into the mainstream, but with such a clear DNA and with an amazing network of suppliers, we have an opportunity to bring back that same energy and make it relevant today.”
Lahssan’s first pieces for the label will be shown during Paris Fashion Week. “I am pleased to entrust the creative direction of Pellat-Finet to Dryce,” Gillier said in a statement. “His incredible fashion culture, his luxury expertise, and his 360-degree creative approach make him the ideal leader to transport this cult brand into the future.”