MEET ALICE BALAS
ALICE BALAS, THE PERFECTO BRAND, IS OPENING A POP-UP AT LE BON MARCHÉ FROM 13 OCTOBER TO 15 NOVEMBER. ON THIS OCCASION, LE BON MARCHÉ MET ITS DESIGNER, WHO SPOKE TO US ABOUT HER CAREER AND INSPIRATIONS.
Alice Balas reinvents this iconic jacket as she fancies and by taking inspiration from new encounters. With rock a clear part of the perfecto’s DNA, she gracefully combines Parisian elegance and the charm and comfort of soft fabrics. Having worked as a photographer’s assistant in Paris and then as an Artistic Director at a communications agency in London, she now creates unique perfecto jackets in her Parisian studio. Le Bon Marché met her at her boutique in the 3th Arrondissement of Paris to share with you the secrets of this leather enthusiast, who has had an unusual career.
How did you become a perfectos designer?
I lived in East London for 4 years, in a very creative environment in terms of clothing. I mixed with lots of musicians, many of whom were never without their immortal perfectos on their back. For a long time, I looked for one for myself. In the vintage shops, I could only find originals from the Schott brand, which, of course, were exquisite but very rigid, with a masculine cut across the shoulders and a look that was slightly too rock.
When I returned to Paris, I noticed that a lot of women were wearing the perfecto jacket. Parisian women have this natural elegance, but they sometimes lack a little creativity. Their perfectos were identical, in smooth, black leather with silver zips, which gives a very rock-biker look. To get them out of this straitjacket, I wanted to create them in a different, unique and novel way, by working on variations and mixing different leathers, colours and fabrics.
What techniques do you use to restyle a piece as timeless as the perfecto?
I work on the details, such as the undercollars, zips on the cuffs, bias-cut sleeves, exclusive prints on the linings or even champagne-coloured leather – I developed its particular tone, which is neither gold nor silver. These are just some of the details that make Alice Balas jackets so identifiable. Given the brand concept of making unique pieces for remarkable women, they also have to be distinguishable. I then add the name of the owner to the inside of the jacket and the number that she chose. I keep records because after two and a half years, I have had to create almost 400 unique perfectos!
What are your sources of inspiration, your models?
Michael Jackson, Patti Smith, Kate Moss, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, Grace Jones... these fashion, music or cinema icons... Yves Saint Laurent, Alaia, Hedi Slimane as exceptional designers... painters and photographers for their work with colour and light… Dynamic women of character, such as Agnès Varda, Françoise Giroud, Marguerite Duras, Simone Veil... I love creating jackets in which a woman can feel stronger, with swagger, and which give the wearer self-confidence.
What does Le Bon Marché mean to you?
Le Bon Marché, for me, is the “Ladies’ Paradise”, the elegance and refinement of women’s French fashion over two centuries. I also have memories from my childhood of my mother bringing home little tasty delights from La Grande Épicerie de Paris when she worked on rue du Cherche-Midi.
PERFECTO PERSONALISATION SERVICES WITH ALICE BALAS ON 21, 22 OCTOBER AND 4, 5, 11 AND 12 NOVEMBER - 1ST FLOOR OF LE BON MARCHÉ.
ALSO AVAILABLE ONLINE AT 24SEVRES.COM
Copyright © Virgile Guinard, © Arno Lam, © Alice Balas
For me, the “Perfecto” is not just a leather jacket, but also a jacket that can be worn as a second skin, and depending on the season instead of a jumper, under a coat or under a trench.