Dress Like an Intellectual Icon with Japanese Coats Inspired by the Wardrobes of Camus, Sartre, Duchamp, Le Corbusier & Others

If you fol­low men’s style in the 21st cen­tu­ry, you know that the same names tend to come up as ref­er­ences again and again, from actors like Cary Grant and Steve McQueen to busi­ness­men like Gian­ni Agnel­li and roy­al­ty like Prince Charles. But what if we looked to oth­er, less con­ven­tion­al realms of cul­ture for inspi­ra­tion on what to wear and, more impor­tant­ly, how to wear it? Over the past few years, Japan­ese label Cohérence has done just that, design­ing coats mod­eled after those worn by the likes of Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mar­cel Duchamp, and Le Cor­busier — and improv­ing upon them with new mate­ri­als and details.

“I love Dada and Sur­re­al­ism, jazz music, writ­ers con­nect­ed to the Lost Gen­er­a­tion, and New Wave cin­e­ma. Along with the art and cul­ture, there were also the clothes – the heav­ier fab­rics and fuller sil­hou­ettes,” says Cohérence design­er Ken­taro Nak­ago­mi as quot­ed by men’s style blog­ger Derek Guy of Die, Work­wear! “They were clas­sic, but also mod­ern at the same time.”

If it strikes you as odd that a Japan­ese oper­a­tion would ded­i­cate itself to the styles of par­tic­u­lar cul­tur­al moments in the West, know that mod­ern Japan has quite a his­to­ry of not just repli­cat­ing them but rein­vent­ing them, told most recent­ly by W. David Marx in his book Ame­to­ra: How Japan Saved Amer­i­can Style. Amer­i­cans, thus far, haven’t con­sti­tut­ed a major pres­ence in Cohérence’s col­lec­tions, though the jazz sax­o­phon­ist, clar­inetist, and com­pos­er Sid­ney Bechet did inspire a Bal­macaan.

Though French­men (also includ­ing The Lit­tle Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and writer-artist-film­mak­er Jean Cocteau) dom­i­nate the label’s list of inspi­ra­tions, it has also made sev­er­al coats in hon­or of Léonard Tsug­uharu Fou­ji­ta, the Japan­ese painter and print­mak­er who in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry brought the artis­tic tech­niques of his ances­tral home­land to his adopt­ed home­land of France. In a way, Fou­ji­ta stands as a sym­bol of the whole project, premised as it is on the union of clas­si­cism and moder­ni­ty as well as exchange between Japan and Europe. And were he around today, Fou­ji­ta, like Cohérence, would sure­ly also have made good use of Insta­gram.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Recall­ing Albert Camus’ Fash­ion Advice, Noam Chom­sky Pans Glenn Greenwald’s Shiny, Pur­ple Tie

Google Cre­ates a Dig­i­tal Archive of World Fash­ion: Fea­tures 30,000 Images, Cov­er­ing 3,000 Years of Fash­ion His­to­ry

1930s Fash­ion Design­ers Pre­dict How Peo­ple Would Dress in the Year 2000

Vin­tage Lit­er­ary T‑Shirts

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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