Christian L'enfant Roi makes clothes for bratty boys.
Christian Deslauriers creates the fey, printed suits and soft shades of maroon in his menswear line for a very specific clientele—as he puts it, his muse for Christian L’Enfant Roi is a spoiled brat. The collection takes its name from a French colloquialism for a stubborn, pampered kid, and Deslauriers relishes in the Oscar Wildeian age divide that he detects in his homebase of Montreal: namely, that the older generation sees today’s 20-somethings as a superficial, indulgent, flowery generation, tweeting and Facebooking about themselves and buying clothes they can’t afford. That’s no insult to Deslauriers; on the contrary, his delicate corduroys and feathery jumpers are tailor-made for the French-Canadian peacock. “There is definitely this Little Prince aspect to it,” he says. “I don’t want to use the word feminine, but there’s a certain dandy-ness to what I do. [My customer] is a little bit egocentric.”
One peek at the precious Mandarin collars in the fall collection, though, and it’s obvious that full-on girls, not just girly boys, galvanize Deslauriers. Admittedly, he’s influenced by early 1900s French fashion legend and grand couturier Paul Poiret, who made silk Japanese kimonos and harem pants that crossed the gender divide for a kind of androgynous flapper woman he called “la garconne.” “I like that [Poiret was] inspired by this idea of another country than the one that he lived in,” he says. Deslauriers is French-Canadian, but he often looks across the ocean for inspiration, spending his free time in Iceland and Denmark. “I just started thinking that Canada is [a lot like] a Nordic country,” Deslauriers explains. “[Scandinavia] is part of what we are without even knowing it.” Style ideas imagined from abroad, like fuzzy sweaters and oversized wool blazers, are juxtaposed with a color palette that matches the empty warehouses and run-down basketball courts of his own hometown. For Deslauriers, the modern day metropolis is what keeps his clothing fresh. “L’Enfant Roi references the guy who can wear silk shirts, but it’s still urban.” Even in the gutters of Montreal, a fanciful kid with the right clothes can still look like a star.