The photo above was taken in 1947 at Gymnase Saulnier, a school for acrobats in Paris. We love the walls covered with pictures of what we imagine were successful former students, the girl poised on her hands in a sweater and high-waisted shorts (these are coming back! Yay!), a scarf wrapped around her hair. Most of all, though, we love the teacher (is it monsieur Saulnier himself?) standing in a casual and, yet somehow, dashing spotter’s position, a beret on his head, a cigarette in his mouth, and OH MY GOD STOP THE PRESSES a “Gymnase Saulnier” tank top over his shirt.
That’s right. Even in 1947, the year Christian Dior founded his maison and launched his radical, history-making “New Look,” people in Paris were putting things on t-shirts. And thinking about fabric, what image they wanted to project, and how best to adapt their clothing to their activities.
We were thinking about this the other morning during a breakfast get-together organized by Pamela Levy of Yoga Concept, as different French yoga lifestyle and activewear designers explained the genesis of their brands and inspiration, and articulated the stories behind their development processes and choice of materials. We thought about how each of these new brands is, in a way, offering their own “New Look”—a fresh approach to addressing the unique needs of French yogis, a community that is enthusiastic about yoga, but less so about leaving the yoga studio in damp, unflattering spandex…
LATY (Love Awakening Thankfulness Yearning) specializes in accessories that complement your practice. From totes and mat bags with subtle details, to colorful printed scarves and luxurious blankets, the line is understated and chic. Pieces can be worn just as easily in the yoga studio as out and about in the city, and although I have plenty of scarves, I really want one of their Palais de Justice-inspired ones.
Clypéa’s signature is its custom fabric which was has developed in partnership with a textile mill in France, a knit that is woven in the round so that it is seamless and super comfortable. To ensure their line remains true to their committment to quality, they are concentraing on pants which comes in a variety of lengths. The brand is also collaborating with non-profit organizations to bring yoga to underserved communities.
Yoga Searcher is both a retreat venue and a clothing manufacturer. Based in Hossegor on the Atlantic Coast, this brand’s philosophy is to cocoon you in that feeling you have while on retreat: perfectly chillaxed and in touch with Nature. The fabrics are vegetable dyed so the color palette is understated, and the pieces themselves are cut generously to be layered for maximum coziness.
While not based in France, Wellicious is just across the Channel: the collection is designed in London, and ethically manufactured in Europe from organic, sustainable materials. Each season, the collection experiments with the drape of their fabrics which results in tops and bottoms that fall prettily on the body. The colors are restrained and easy to mix and match with your existing wardrobe.
YUJ Yoga With Style
Created by Hélène Verrier Duval, a former Voguette, YUJ evolved from Hélène’s twin passions for Ashtanga yoga and fashion. As you would expect, her line is fiercely edited, and marries the discipline of vinyasa with the sharp-edged style of a Paris fashion editor -- if Emmanuelle Alt did yoga, she would wear YUJ.