At the head of BRUT, his vintage boutique, Paul Benchemoun is (also) a living encyclopaedia of second-hand clothing. Associated with Octobre for a capsule collection of three upcycled pieces, he tells us about his style and his favourite clothes.
As a child, Paul Benchemoun grew up in a family very committed to clothes. On the one hand, his father ran a clothes shop, and on the other, his grandfather sold military surplus at the famous Canal flea market in Lyon.
“It was when I was nearly 25, caught up in my youthful memories, that I had the crazy idea of opening a showroom dedicated to textile professionals”. There, he gathered his latest vintage findings from all around the world, before opening BRUT in Paris, his boutique-shop open to the public, in 2017.
“Fashion is a big field in which there is a lot to be done”.
When it comes to inspirations, Paul doesn’t really identify himself with today’s brands, but rather with anything related to craftsmanship. “I like to see how artists dress, that was my first inspiration. The first jacket we made was a sculptor’s jacket inspired by Brâncuși.”
Chatting with Paul is also an opportunity to discuss counter-culture:
“I have sometimes been criticized for my pronounced taste for pieces that were not unanimously accepted. When I started, there was a big trend for patched clothes and patchwork. These were pieces that weren’t meant to be beautiful in the first place because they had been worn out, damaged by time. And yet, once taken out of their context, they became masterpieces. It was a bit of a return to the definition of art brut. Art that doesn’t come from the artists, but from the creations themselves."
"At BRUT, we work mainly with materials such as cotton, canvas, moleskin and leather. Raw things, too.”
Paul’s style is influenced by many different things: “I like brands from the 80s that might seem outdated, but I mix them with basics and vintage. My style is a summary of my clothing culture. This is what I wanted to express with BRUT x Octobre. We produced three pieces that work in silhouette: a sleeveless cardigan, a parka and pants.
The essential that follows him everywhere? ”A pair of New Balance made in the USA, of course, for quality and comfort.
“The sleeveless cardigan is quilted with an army nylon. We like the idea of mixing pieces with different layers of clothing. It can be styled on top of a look to give it a vintage feel.”
“For this piece, we really started from the fabric. The parka is an American army classic that we updated in a water-repellent material. Depending on what I could find, we came up with a piece that we thought was the most appropriate for the material we found.”
“It’s a hybrid between BRUT Archives and Octobre in terms of cut and inspiration. For a long time I was looking for a vintage cotton, with a story, to develop these trousers and Octobre finally found the perfect fabric to bring them to life."
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