The Genteel
October 20, 2020


Thierry Gillier, founder of Zadig & Voltaire, with models from S/S 2012 show

Almost an hour late for our interview, the man finally emerged from a room in the Park Hyatt suite showcasing the latest Zadig & Voltaire collection with a twinkle in his clear blue eyes. "I am so sorry to keep you waiting. Come in 'ere!" he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me into the bathroom. "Ah! That is better! Quieter!" he said as he shut the door, visibly relieved to be away from the buzzing activity of his showroom.I thought Zadig & Voltaire founder Thierry Gillier may be a bit snobbish. After all, I'd read that his father founded Lacoste; he studied politics at university and named his company after a French Enlightenment philosopher and, of course, he owns one of the coolest labels in all of France.  

How could I not feel at ease with a man who wants to be interviewed in a toilet?

My sense of calm soon disappeared after my first question, though. I asked what he had learned from his father about clothing. "Eh? No, no.

How could I not feel at ease with a man who wants to be interviewed in a toilet?

My father didn't found Lacoste. It was my great grandfather, in fact. My father was a medical doctor," he said, with a huge grin. And then, noting my expression: "Don't worry - I think there's some wrong information about me in the internet; a lot of people ask me that question." Ah, ok. Whew!

So what inspired the name for the company? Could it have derived from his days as a political science student? Again, no. He studied art! (Note to self: do not trust anything on the internet. Ever.)  Luckily for me, art is something Mr. Gillier loves to chat about. He proudly shows me pictures of two pop art pieces he just bought this morning, and even showed me a text message from one of his friends, who bought a piece on Thierry's advice. "It makes me so happy, this message," he says. "Do you understand it? It means he's dying from joy."  

New collaborators of all sorts always add fresh blood to the brand, and this season is no different. Italian jeweller Gaia Repossi has created a very covetable line of intricately designed mesh cuffs and rings, and model Erin Wasson has created a capsule collection that adds her own sexy, grungy style to Zadig & Voltaire. Based on the silhouettes and the spirit of the 1970's, the collection features flared leather trousers, sequined silver shorts and plenty of worn-in suede, raw edges and visible linings. The look has been defined as "when L.A. meets Paris" and has so far been a smash hit with

Erin Wasson with Gillier.

fashionistas on both continents. "Oh, I love Erin. She's great. Every time I go to her place, I see something in her closet and say, 'let's use this! And this!' She just has the best style; so relaxed," Mr. Gillier gushes. In addition to the visual arts, he is also clearly enthusiastic about music, and counts several top musicians such as Sean Lennon, Beth Ditto, Jamie Hince and Alison Mossheart as both friends and muses. He's had some of the most iconic items in his knits collection embroidered with the names of famous rockers: Elvis, Blondie and Mick Jagger could all be hiding in your Zadig sweater. The sequins, studs and waxed leather jeans seen this season are all very rock and roll, as are the trademark Zadig motifs of skulls and angel wings. But undoubtedly the most obviously musical element at Chez Zadig must be the 17 track compilation CD recorded for the brand by edgy recording artists including the Ritch Kids, Julian Casablancas and MGMT.

A knock on the door interrupts us and I realize this may not be the best space to occupy when dozens of champagne swillers are milling around outside. Thierry kisses both my cheeks as he says goodbye, and I walk away with a bit of glow, thinking I may have just met one of the most positive, upbeat, nicest men in French fashion.



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