Fashion Interview Interview

Paris-Montreal based label 3.Paradis is carving out a strong reputation for its unique intersection of streetwear and luxury. Inspired by the hip hop and street subcultures of the 80s and 90s, designer Emeric Tchatchoua puts a high end spin on a casual aesthetic. Today, we’re premiering the lookbook for their FW17 collection, which mixes those nostalgic refs with a Genesis spin. 

For FW17, the designer drew from poet John Milton’s novel Paradise Lost – the 17th century retelling of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man. Inspired to explore the notion of Genesis in line with his own experience of growing up, he realised a nostalgia-fuelled trip through the menswear silhouettes of his childhood. All cast in vivid colour… with the occasional ‘fig’ leaf.

As Emeric tells us, 3.Paradis originally launched out of his frustration with the state of menswear. Deciding that if he couldn’t find what he and his friends wanted to wear he’d just make it, and he got to work. In the four years since, Emeric and co-founder Raymond Cheung have grown the project into a fully-fledged label, garnering devoted fans worldwide and showing at fashion weeks in Toronto, Paris and London.

Here, we exclusively share the FW17 lookbook, while Emeric muses over the collection and the state of menswear.

Cristian Burbano: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you came to launch 3.Paradis?
Emeric Tchatchoua: 
When I was younger, we moved a lot because of my dad’s job. We lived in different places like Douala in Cameroon, Reims in France, Montreal in Canada and of course Paris, where I was born and raised and spent all my childhood. We usually stayed in a city from one to three years, then would move to another one. I realised at an early age I had a deep interest in fashion, art and details. With time, it turned into a passion and obsession.

I decided to pursue fashion studies during university when I was 21. I learnt most of my fashion knowledge from life experience and from being a consumer before being a creator. I learnt more out of school than in school. The way that the industry works is way different than what they teach you. School still gives you the fundamentals and base, you have to build on top of what you learn there – but without your natural instinct and vision, it’s meaningless.

Cristian: And where did you go from there?
Emeric: After two years in school, I was getting bored with what the menswear industry had to offer so I decided to start making clothes for my friends and myself. At the beginning it was more like a project so that we could dress exactly how we wanted, but I realised that more people really wanted my designs, so it naturally turned into a brand.

“At the beginning it was more like a project so that we could dress exactly how we wanted, but I quickly realised that more people really wanted my designs.”

Cristian: So how would you describe the 3.Paradis man?
Emeric: He’s young at heart, he seeks an alternative to old high fashion houses and mainstream designer wear. He’s very into street fashion but cares a lot about the quality of his clothes. He’s cultivated, active and wants to be different. He’s a fashion lover who takes a good care of himself. Our aesthetic could be described as, “disruptive, chic and poetic”. It’s a mix of youthful rebelliousness and high end fashion. Our clothing reminds you of your childhood, but it’s not childish. 

3.Paradis FW17. Photography The Lobby

Cristian: For FW17 you were inspired by 17th-century English poet John Milton’s novel, Paradise Lost, which looks at the Fall of Man and the temptation of Adam and Eve. What elements of the book did you take into the collection? 
Emeric: I first heard about Paradise Lost in college during my literature class. My teacher was really passionate about poetry and always tried to transfer his passion to all his students. I came across that book again through a conversation with friends and decided to read it last year.

Through the story of Adam and Eve, Milton discusses Genesis and the Fall of Man, all through poems. So this season I studied the concept of Genesis and its true meaning. From there, I decided to narrate my own Genesis through design, pulling from my own memories and interpretation of the late 80s and early 90s. To tell this story, I had to go back to my roots and my earliest youth.

Cristian: What are your favourite movements in menswear from these decades? And those you rather forget?
Emeric: I feel like my favourite movement in menswear from that time is the emergence of urban streetwear, through the widespread interest in hip hop and gangsta rap. Hip hop fashion had influenced so many global subcultures, from the UK to America. Paradoxically, the trend that I rather forget is the parachute pants – that stem from that same subculture. I’ve never really been a fan!

Cristian: You work between Paris and Montréal, how do these cities influence your work?
Paris and Montréal are two complete different and antipodal cities, and working between them helps me find a real balance that translates into the collection. Paris never sleeps and is a fast-paced city. Montreal is way slower, it almost feels like a comfort zone where you go when life in Paris is becoming too harassing. I feel like we take the chic side from Paris and the authenticity from Montréal.

In general, growing up and living in different parts of the world impacted my perspective of the world. It opened my mind to different cultures and lifestyles and made me realise at an early age the beauty of this planet and all its components. 

3.Paradis FW17. Photography The Lobby

Cristian: How do you feel about the current state of the menswear scene? Especially for streetwear, any creatives you look to for inspiration?
Emeric: The menswear scene is growing season after season, men are consuming fashion at an exponential rate. With the explosion of social media, self-promotion and individuality are becoming very important. Therefore men care more about the way they look now and are becoming more self-aware of their appearance. I’m obsessed by the work of Jun Takahashi, it really inspires 3.Paradis, he’s one of the precursors of high-end street fashion. I find his creative process and designs very interesting. Montreal musician High Klassified has also been a big influence lately.

“I’m obsessed with trying to get out of the fashion system and create our own space, where designers can go much deeper into their own creativity and concepts.”

Cristian: Your work has been described as avant-garde, how do you balance the fine line between creativity and wearability?
Emeric: I think the fact that I was a heavy fashion consumer before starting designing helped me a lot to find that balance. When 3.Paradis started it was about making clothes that all my friends could wear because we got bored of what the industry offered at that time. So the balance between creativity and wearability always felt very natural to us. It’s very important to me that the clothes I design could be worn by all 3.Paradis enthusiasts, without compromising on creativity and authenticity. 

Cristian: You’ve been going since 2013, what has been the most challenging aspect of launching the brand? 
Emeric: I feel like keeping up with the fashion calendar is the most challenging aspect of launching a brand. With the internet and especially social media, everything moves so fast and it doesn’t give much room to explore as much as designers would like to. The way people consume fashion has totally change and designers have to adapt to that transformation. I’m really obsessed with trying to get out of the fashion system and create our own space, where designers would be able to go much deeper into their own creativity and concepts.