The Agender Agenda: Stéphane Ashpool
Part six of a series
Tearing down tired taboos and referencing nostalgic throwbacks to the naughties, neutrois, street style, moody fashion and murky aesthetic undercurrents, creatives like Kaimin, Christopher Shannon, Stéphane Ashpool, Shayne Oliver, Marcelo Burlon and boychild are setting the tone for unflinching individualism and a brazen disregard for gender expectations. This alpha crop of originators, amongst others, are rattling up the fashion world with their take on gender fluidity, andro-glam, the street, epicene beauty, and invigorating, liberating aesthetics—just think of Shayne Oliver’s indelible id explorations, or Rick Owens’ provocative pecker flaps, or boychild’s glitched-out, autoerotic ka-pows. These avant-guardians are embracing the art world’s post-modern, post-gender transgressive sensibility. Call it the new ‘Agender Agenda’—that is, fashion that celebrates crossover culture, sexual iconoclasm, radical openness and transpersonal progress. That means macho suits and machine gun boots for chicks, skirts, shift shirts, and plexiglass collars for dudes, and ontological-esthetic upheavals across-the-board—what the futurist Ray Kurzweil calls “a phase change in the consciousness of man.” It’s a cultural stirring that at once tethers and liberates gender identity and reveals the ambivalence and elasticity of social archetypes. It’s no wonder that trans trailblazers like Andreja Pejić, Hari Nef, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner are fashion’s shit-hot avatars, ripping up the web, burning up pop-culture and breaking down gender binaries; and auteurs like Wu Tsang, Dia Dear and Junglepussy provide killer, campy cosmographies and trans-femme perspectives that enlighten and inform us all. Phhhhewww, post-modernism never felt so good—and the clothes look pretty fuckin’ cool, too! Here are a few of our fave disruptors and déconstructors, with quick-fire Q&A’s to follow. KA-BOOM!
Pigalle | Stéphane Ashpool is the streetwise designer behind Pigalle Paris (a.k.a. the ‘Pain O Chokolat’ crew)
There’s hardly a name so inextricably linked with the transmutation of ‘street’ into high fashion than that of Stéphane Ashpool, the shooting star progenitor of streetwear label PIGALLE. And the term shooting star applies to hardly any other creative than it does to him, especially given the zippy vector path he’s been on since taking his ‘non-bourgeois aesthetic’ from Paris’ scrappy red light district (Pigalle—an area of northern Paris known for its, ahem, rough around the edges vibe) to the roused runways of Paris and beyond. Stéphane’s style—expressive, sporty, refined and raw—injects streetwear with an air of freshness, an ethos of extreme diversity and a sort of à la mode normcore novelty. His ever ascendant brainchild, Pigalle Paris, is a modern lifestyle label that excels at appropriating/hybridizing garish items, B-ball culture, the proletariat and Gallic chic, from shiny tracksuits, silk boxing robes, jazzy jumpsuits, transversal trenches, and gender neutral, logo-laden tees/accessories, with the highest care and coolest DIY flare. Stéphane’s snazzy, streetwise sanctuary (located at Rue Duperré, the site of a defunct car park situated next to a B-ball court where he and his ruffian chums, aka the Pain O Chokolat crew, cut their teeth playing hoops) is an essential one-stop shop that serves as Pigalle & Co’s global HQ and revolutionary aesthetic palace coup. Having landed this year’s ANDAM Grand Prix award, the coveted French fashion prize that comes with oodles of ca$h, and a killer collab with NIKE to boot, the cutthroat creative has nothing but a bright and blossoming future before him.
The name “PIGALLE” comes from your old stomping ground and where your mom settled down. Were you always into fashion and street style?
Yeah, Pigalle is the name of my old hood; I grew up there with some of my ‘Pain O choKolat’ crew, and it’s also where my mom set up after she left Sarajevo, Bosnia to start a new a new life in France and to pursue a career as a dancer.
What is the biggest distinction between streetwear in Paris vs. New York?
The internet, globalization and Gen Tumblr have basically compressed time and space and flattened the globe. The differences are super subtle but I’d argue that Paris’ streetwear is more ‘proletariat’ and NYC’s is peppier and more bling’d out.
A photo posted by Stéphane Ashpool PPP (@pigalle_ashpool) on
PIGALLE produces high-fashion pieces as well. How do you balance streetwear and ‘luxe’ under one umbrella?
Streetwear, sportswear, high-fashion, pret-à-porter, luxury, etc. are all just synonyms. It’s not that tough to do, actually. The hard part is making customers and editors understand that the notion isn’t contradictory. ‘Street-equals-luxe-equals-
street’ is my motto—there’s a constant feedback loop between street-inspired fashion, luxury and ready to wear—it all feeds on itself.
What was the overall inspiration for the Nike x Pigalle Collab?
The overall inspiration comes from gritty streetwear and basketball culture. I’ve always had a penchant for vintage athletic gear, as well, so that is an essential part of the aesthetic. There will be distressed materials, the use of patina, over washing, tie-dyes and a radical re-factoring of fabrics and textures. Stark monochrome graphics will also ooze into the looks.
What are you gonna do with the fat $tacks you got from your well-deserved ANDAM grant?
I’m going to invest it in a proper platform-cum-atelier from which to create, communicate, and distribute the brand—a sort of maison couture, but with a new flavor.