ÀCHEVAL PAMPA, Amazons of style

ÀCHEVAL PAMPA, Amazons of style

Inspired by her childhood memories that she has spent riding on horses in the Pampas, the Argentinian stylist Sofia Achaval de Montaigu is paying tribute to the horsemen of this wide expanse of land by launching with her friend and partner Lucila Sperber the lifestyle brand Àcheval Pampa.

With her long blond hair, wearing one of those famous bombachas, the gauchos’ pants that became the key piece of the label, and the black hat, Sofia has this intriguing exoticism, a natural elegance and a poetic and sophisticated look. This urban amazon represents perfectly well the spirit of the brand.

Since its launch at the Ritz in Paris last year, Àcheval Pampa is a real success, seduces all the it-girls from Paris to Buenos Aires and promotes with a lot of chic and sophistication the beauty of the Pampa and its unique craftsmanship.

Behind your label Àcheval Pampa, there is you and Lucila Sperber. How did you get the idea to create together a brand inspired by the gauchos of the Pampas?

It was always my dream to launch one day my own brand inspired by the gauchos. I grew up in Buenos Aires but every holiday and every weekend I’ve spent in the Pampas where my family possesses land.

During my entire childhood, I grew up riding on horses in this wide stretch of grassland wearing the traditional gaucho clothes.

During my studies of fashion design at studio Berçot in Paris, I’ve often worn the bombachas, the pants of the gauchos, the typical horseman boots or the ponchos. This style was natural to me but my friends were completely fascinated and wanted to know where I’ve bought those clothes.

I’ve met Lucila several years later when I was working as a stylist for a Rochas campagne because she’s the brand manager of this fashion label for South America.
The idea to create together a brand inspired by the gauchos was born at that moment.

What exactly is so fascinating for you about the gaucho style and the Pampa, this wide region between Uruguay, Argentina and the south of Brazil?

The Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges said once

‘The Pampa is like a horizontal vertigo’.

I love this description. We have embroidered his quote on our shirts, because it describes perfectly well the sensation that you have under this intense sun and those miles of empty grassland in front of you.

The clothing of the gauchos with their hats, their pants, their ponchos and their leather boots have this great look and chic.

Our intention with Àchval Pampa is to extract this timeless elegance of men’s clothing and turn it into something feminine by adding sophistication, a bit of romanticism and poetry.

This reminds me of Yves Saint Laurent who said ‘A woman is never as feminine as in a man’s suit’. 

I’m a huge fan of Monsieur Saint Laurent. And he’s absolutely right. Yves Saint Laurent took a lot of inspiration in mens’ clothes and adapted them for women. These pieces became iconic with a timeless elegance. He was inspired by different cultures like Asia, Morocco and also by the gaucho style but added a modern elegance and a european chic.

And that’s exactly our goal with Àcheval Pampa.

We want to create a wardrobe that contains beautiful classics, with a refined ethnic elegance that is accessible to everybody and can be worn a whole life.

That’s why we keep our key pieces every season and add a small selection of well-chosen new pieces.

The center of our collections are the pants that we propose in various very luxurious fabrics. Around theses key pieces we have added shirts, capes, dresses, skirts and for the coming winter a jacket.

We give a great importance to the choice of our fabrics and the cut of our clothes. They have to be perfectly cut and also comfortable so you can wear them from morning to night.

There are also the belts and the jewelry that are designed by other artists that you invite for collaborations. 

Yes, absolutely. The belts and the jewelry are designed by the amazing artist Luna Paiva who is known for her huge bronze sculptures. For this capsule collection she took her inspiration from this very particular sky of the magical pampa with its intense sun and moon.

Luna is drawing first the design and then making the moulds by hand at her studio.

Are you thinking of future collaborations with other artists?

We really like the idea of collaborations because it brings another point of view to the collection which is very interesting, but it needs to happen in a very natural way without being forced.

But we will certainly continue working wit Luna because we love her artistic universe a lot. It is in perfect harmony with the Àcheval Pampa style.

It-girls like Kendall Jenner or Meghan Markle are big fans of Àcheval Pampa and Delfina Blaquier has worn this beautiful blue dress at the royal wedding of Harry and Maghan. 

Yes, Delfina looked stunning in this dress!
And the fact that she was wearing it at that this very particular event has created a huge buzz on social media and has given the brand an enormous visibility, just a few months after the brand’s launch at the Ritz in Paris.

Delfina and her husband Nacho Figueras, the famous polo player, are part of the Àcheval Pampa adventure and the best ambassadors of the label. We’re all very good friends, and share the same love for Argentina, its breathtaking beauty and unique craftsmanship.

Production wise you put a lot of importance into traditional craftsmanship and you’re working with small local workshops. Do you think that this is the new definition of luxury, to produce less and to focus on handcraft ? 

Absolutely! For us it’s very important that the entire collection is produced in the Pampa. Our pants and shirts are made in Uruguay, the belts in the south of Brazil and the bags are made by the best manufacturer in Argentina that is specialized in making horse saddles for the gauchos, their savoir-faire is impressive. And our black hats are made by a family that is making only this style.

We really do care about the « Made in the Pampas ». It’s also an opportunity to give work to all those incredibly talented craftsman and helps that this unique traditional handcraft doesn’t disappear.

Àcheval Pampa is above all a life style brand, not a designer label, that is very versatile. It can exist in many other ways such as fragrance or furniture.

2018 was the year of Àcheval Pampa’s successful launch. Could you give us already a little hint about your projects in 2019?

In March we will present our Autumn / Winter collection at the Ritz.

We’ll be also busy travelling. We’re very lucky to have the best shops all around the world that sell our clothes and that organize events around our label.

These trips and encounters with the boutiques and clients are very important for a brand like us because it gives life to the label and allows to have direct contact with our customers and to understand what each woman likes in our collections.

We might also launch men’s clothing because there are so many who would love to wear our pants.

What comes to your mind when you think of Iran?

I think of colors, spices.
It reminds me also of Argentina because both countries have a strong culture.
And I would love to go there.

All photos © Àcheval Pampa
e-Shop: https://acheval-pampa.myshopify.com
Text: Anahita Vessier
Translation: Anahita Vessier

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OLIVIER CHÂTENET, The maestro of style

The maestro of style

Olivier Châtenet has worked as a fashion designer for the biggest fashion houses, from Alaïa, Thierry Mugler to Hermès and has launched his own brands, Mario Chanet and E2. During all those years he has built an outstanding collection of vintage fashion and he has one of the biggest and most important collection of Yves Saint Laurent vintage.

Travelling with his vintage collection all around the world curating exhibitions, working as a style consultant for fashion and cinema, he knows all about the perfect cut and has an incredible sense of style.

Where does this big interest for Yves Saint Laurent come from?

When I started to work in fashion in the 80s, Yves Saint Laurent was not at all a brand that I was interested in. At that time his brand has become very classic and bourgeois. The image of Yves Saint Laurent in the 80s was very much about this working girl in her blazer and the straight-cut short skirt.

My passion for his fashion came much later when I started to look for the ultimate perfection of style. And it’s true.

“When you look at some of the pieces that Yves Saint Laurent has designed 30 or 40 years ago, I wouldn’t say they’re modern but just incredibly perfect.”

There is something really timeless about his fashion. Even nowadays I see girls wearing old YSL blouses.
It might seem very classic nowadays but Yves Saint Laurent main concern was that women felt beautiful in his clothes.

Yves Saint Laurent said “A woman is never as feminine as in a man’s suit.” 


“The contrast between the man’s suite and the woman who wears it enhances her femininity even more.”

Yves Saint Laurent was constantly in quest of THE perfect piece of garment. So in the 60s he observed that the renewal cycle of men’s fashion was much slower, that men’s clothes were much more sustainable.

That’s why he took a lot of pieces from the men’s wardrobe and adapted them for women, like the smoking or the trench coat.

“He often said that he wished he had invented blue jeans because they were just perfect. They were nonchalant, simple and had sex appeal regardless of age, sex or season.”

What was the secret behind Yves Saint Laurent’s creative genius that revolutionized fashion?

“To me Yves Saint Laurent was without any doubt the biggest stylist of the 20th century, but not necessarily the biggest fashion designer.”

He didn’t invent anything. He observed really well and had this extraordinary sensibility to know what women really wanted. His celebrity was built on fashion that already existed, his talent was to observe, to adapt, and to propose at the right moment.

In 1971 when everybody still thought that fashion needed to be inspired by future and needed to look futuristic, Yves Saint Laurent broke this rule and got inspired by the past by showing his famous 40s collection. This collection was a huge scandal and had a very strong impact. It was the beginning of the retro-style. But he didn’t invent it. In the 2nd half of the 60s you can already see this retro-style in fashion shootings in English Vogue showing models wearing clothes of London based designers such as Ossie Clark or Biba.

“Apart from being an excellent styliste he knew perfectly well how to use communication and his image in order to  create, as you would call it today, a huge buzz.”

The best example is the photo of him naked taken by Jean-Loup Sieff in 1971 for the launch of his first fragrance for men. It was huge! Looking at the context of that time it was totally new and revolutionary that a designer used his own image for the promotion of his brand.

Let’s talks about your vintage collection and your  collaboration with Bertrand Bonello on his movie “Saint Laurent”. How was it to work as a style consultant on this project?

It was an amazing experience! It’s initially me who got in touch with Bonnello. I heard about his movie project so I took immediately the phone and left him a message. The next day he called me back, we met two days later and then the collaboration started.

First he gave me the scenario to get my advice and then I met Anaïs Romand, the costume designer. We worked very hard and tried to be as precise as possible. I also gave her all the iconographical material for the reproduction of certain pieces. I was working especially during the preparation phase of the movie and during the shootings of the most important scenes, such as the scenes of the fashion shows.

The best reward for this hard work was when Anaïs Romand won the French film Award, le César, for her costume design for “Saint Laurent”. I was so happy for her!

Besides this film experience and your work as a consultant for the biggest fashion houses in Paris, you’ve also done some exhibitions with your vintage collection in France and abroad, for example the “Crazy about Yves” exhibition in 2012 in Hong Kong. How was the reaction of the Asian public?

The reaction was very enthusiastic. Hong Kong is a young and modern city, so the concept of vintage fashion is very new to the Chinese public.

The “Crazy about Yves” exhibition was shown during the 20th anniversary of the French May Festival. It was the first time that I had total carte blanche for an exhibition and I’ve never shown my collection on such a large scale before.

“Even though he didn’t travel that much, Yves Saint Laurent was very much inspired by Asia in his “imaginary journeys”. When he launched his fragrance Opium his idea was to create a perfume for the Empress of China.”

That’s why the final part of the exhibition was a sort of a “tribute to China” dedicated to his creations from 1970 to 1980 that had an Asian influence.

Is there a quote of Yves Saint Laurent that inspires you?

“The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves.”

This quote shows perfectly well his sincere and true admiration for women.

What comes to your mind when you think of Iran?

I think of Farah Diba and divine beauty.

Olivier Châtenet’s portray on “Home” page by Christophe Roué
Olivier Châtenet’s portray of article by Angèle Châtenet
– Exhibition “40 silhouettes composées d’archives YSL”, Galerie 7.5 / Paris, 2014
Pieces with prints from 1970 – 1978
– Exhibition “Un regard sur Yves Saint Laurent”, Dinan / France, 2017
Pieces inspired by the safari jacket from 1968 – 1975
– Exhibition “40 silhouettes composées d’archives YSL”, Galerie 7.5 / Paris, 2014
Pieces with prints from 1971 – 1983
– Portray of Yves Saint Laurent by Jean-Loup Sieff, 1971
– Catwalk scene of Bertand Bonello’s film “Saint Laurent”
– Exhibition “Un regard sur Yves Saint Laurent”, Dinan / France, 2017
Pieces of the “China” collection, Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Autumn / Winter 1979/80
– Exhibition “Golden Needle”, Joyce / Hong Kong 2016
Pieces by Dries Van Noten, by Marni and vintage
– Exhibition “Golden Needle”, Joyce / Hong Kong 2016
Pieces by Marc Jacobs and Junya Watanabe/Comme des Garçons
Text: Anahita Vessier
Translation: Anahita Vessier

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