Canadian Franklin Elman relaunches the
With such a rich heritage it is hard to know where to begin, so it is best to begin at the beginning. Legendary designer Pauline Trigere, whose acclaimed Maison Trigère dressed iconic women like Jackie Kennedy, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is a jewel in the American fashion history crown. The New York based fashion label founded in 1942 by Parisian born Trigère, was born out of need. As a recently single mother, having fled the Nazi’s, Pauline Trigères boldness, determination, and talent as a couturier allowed for her to successfully run her fashion house for 52 years. Often referred to as “America’s Coco Chanel”, Trigère’s long tenure is peppered with iconic moments. She dressed European royalty, was the first to hire a black model, received awards, and even wrote a curt open letter in the New York Times’s to John Fairchild (WWD) in 1988.
By Lauren Walker-Lee
With a career spent trailblazing , Madame Trigère was ahead of her time, and there could not be a more fitting moment to celebrate this legendary woman with the rebirth of Trigère.
Enter the new era of Maison Trigère. Tasked with this revival is creative director and Montreal native Franklin Benjamin Elman. A Rhodes Island School of Design graduate, with 20 years experience honing his skills with illustrious stints at Costume National, Rick Owens, and Jil Sander under Raf Simons. He has done his homework, diving deeply into the archives to create this new iteration, while completely respecting the history the house.
For SS/20 Elman brought the collection to Toronto, showing in the perfect setting of The Royal Ontario Museum. The grand hall saw models parade beautiful garments down the catwalk in unique formations, directed by well known stylist Peter Papapetrou. Guests were first met with a short video that reacquainted them with the history of the iconic Pauline Trigère, followed by the perfect Jared Deitch soundtrack with vocals informing the room “the legend will begin again”. The S/S 20 silhouettes juxtaposed the feminine with the masculine. Contrasting volumes bewitched with their presence: caftan coats with precious intarsia inserts, oversize clerical blouses, and maxi skirts with lightweight tweeds and precious silk jacquards. Everyday couture ensembles and structural blouses, Cinq-à-sept dresses with knots and drapes, collided with gathered T-shirt blouses that were paired with boyfriend trousers.
Finding himself in such a relevant moment, an archive worth of history, and countless new inspirations, Elman is certainly poised for the legend to begin again.
We caught up with the designer after the show to discuss the collection, red carpet dressing, and his time with Trigere thus far.
What is the inspiration behind the new collection? In every collection I always reference the contrasting codes of the House of Trigère: masculine and feminine, timeless and avant-garde, emotional and intellectual, old-world and new-world. The possibilities are endless. This season I mixed Madame Trigère’s love of tailoring with feminine couture details. It is typical of the French Haute-Couture to mix the ‘Flou’ with the ’Tailleur’.
“The result is what I call ‘Emotional Geometries’, the name of the SS20 collection.”
With a few seasons now successfully under your belt, what has been the greatest learning lesson? Fortune favours the bold!
What has the response been like from the fashion public? The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People all over the world have an emotional attachment to Trigère. We have organic brand ambassadresses that include Giovanna Battaglia Englebert, Kate Moss and Winona Ryder, the list goes on.
What has the response been like from luxury stockists? We started out with made-to-measure, and are now finalizing both our wholesale and e-commerce distribution. Our goal is to re-ignite Trigère and bring the magic, beauty, and heritage of Maison Trigère to global recognition.
“IN MY WORK, inspiration IS EVERYTHING.”
The history of Madame Trigère is immense, glamorous, and fierce- she is a role model for today’s woman. What words would you use to describe the new Madame Trigère woman? The Trigère woman of today is absolutely the contemporary version of the Trigère woman of the past. Confident and comfortable in her own skin, she wants to wear designs for their beauty and artistry. Rather than being one of the crowd, she wants to be elevated by designs that will showcase her unique charisma and personality.
“The modern Trigère woman has that ‘it’ factor, that little bit of magic that makes heads turn every time she enters a room.”
Just as you have respectfully relaunched the house, how much has stayed the same and what have you added to modernize the aesthetic and feeling, making it your own? Trigère’s combination of charisma and technical mastery of fit and design are unparalleled. There are so many lessons to be drawn from her oeuvre of over 50 years. Madame Trigère brought a French, Parisian spirit to a woman’s wardrobe and fused it with modern and innovative tailoring. I am very much a francophile and I have a love of technique, so I definitely draw from her amazing legacy, hopefully updating it respectfully. Perhaps the humorous paradox is that Madame Trigère brought a certain ‘masculine’ energy to her designs, while I suspect that I am bringing a certain ‘feminine’ energy to what we’re doing today.
Of the amazing women Trigère dressed in the past, which would you have also loved to dress from the decades gone by? Which notable women would you like to see in your pieces today? Mme Trigère dressed the luminaries of her day, including iconic beauties the Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, JosephineBaker and Elizabeth Taylor. Naturally we have women like Winona Ryder and Sarah Jessica Parker who have been wearing Trigère since forever. There is the new generationof the Trigère-cult members that include Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, Susie Bubble, and Kate Moss. I would have loved to have dressed Jacqueline Kennedy. What you saw with her was only the tip of the iceberg. Her cool and aloof public persona disguised her savvy and cunning intelligence. Today it would be a dream to dress accomplished and brilliant women like Christine Lagarde and Cate Blanchett and perhaps some young Hollywood beauties like Elle Fanning and Lily-Rose Depp. I also carry a torch for artists Florence Welch and Lady Gaga.
Can you describe what a typical day looks like when you are working? I cannot describe a typical working day as it would be too boring to mention. I would say that the best days are the ones where I am blessed with divine inspiration.