By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
THE ULTIMATE designs for men who love to travel and look as good on arriving at their destination as they did on leaving home made their debut in Bangkok last month with the launch of French brand Boll & Rava at King Power Mahanakhon.
Swiss national Bertrand Boll and Frenchman Guillaume Rava met 12 years ago as classmates before heading around the world as the artistic directors and designers for popular fashion houses Vicomte A and Lorenz Bach. The projects allowed the duo to discover then develop their unique style based on colour association and the use of contrasting fabrics and textures and the compliments they earned on their travels for their stylish gear were so numerous that the friends finally decided to create the perfect garments fit for a 48-hour trip with a cabin trolley.
And so the adventure began with a smart but casual blazer made from luxurious wool and with anti shrinkage treatment, an elegant shirt made by Thomas Mason in white poplin with an invisible anti-sweat patch under the arm, a document holder in crocodile skin produced by master craftsmen in Italy around Milan, chic cashmere jogging pants and a light cashmere and silk scarf for when the air conditioning on the plane is too chilly for comfort.
The pair flew to Bangkok for the opening of their twin boutiques, one named after them and the other dubbed Ace Denim.
“For the past 12 years, we have been travelling almost every week by plane, car and train. We realised that guys on the go tend to do the same thing – pack a suitcase with a formal suit, blazer, white shirt and jeans to cover what they’ll likely need while on the trip. Over the years, we have developed the perfect travel wardrobe for businessmen,” says Boll.
“One day while we were waiting at the carousel for our luggage, a Hollywood superstar walked up to us and asked where she could buy what we were wearing for her boyfriend. So we thought maybe we should commercialise our designs and create our own brand with this perfect vision of travel. Our aims are durability, contrast with a twist, comfort, and self-confidence. For example, this jacket is made of classic tailoring fabric but we have added sporty details on the waist. We use refined cashmere yarn but silicon supertech details so it’s going to be more modern and contemporary and we use bright yellow instead of traditional hues. Luxurious materials and fabrics are combined with French and Italian craftsmanship. Cotton crepe made from Italy is mixed with the super tech to give the garment a different feel,” Rava adds.
The new collection now available in Bangkok includes that elegant blazer made with luxurious Super 160s wool and the Thomas Mason white poplin 120/2 shirt with anti-sweat underarm pads. Also in stock is the alligator leather document holder, chic cashmere jogging pants, and a light cashmere and silk scarf.
The brand’s logo features two dots representing both designers. “It symbolises both of us because we are always together. It’s about the contrast and the balance. Sometime the dots are diamonds and sometime they are embroidery,” says Rava.
In 2008 Boll and Rava won an award for their creativity designs at “Who’s Next”, a leading French trade show and made headlines in the French media. Over the past five years, they have designed special collections for prestigious partners such as the Polo Club of St Tropez and Polo Club of Gstaad, Le Mans Classic and Le Tour auto races and the Vendee Globe sailing race. The Boll & Rava brand shot to fame in 2015 when the two designers presented their first travel suit on BFM, a French television channel. They also became the official outfitter for France’s La Ligue football club AS Monaco for two seasons from 2016 to 2017.
Closer to Thailand, Boll & Rava has collaborated with Leicester City Football Club (LCFC), which is owned by the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, founder of King Power. Thanks to the duo’s high attention to detail, the LCFC look as elegant, sophisticated, and sporty. The brand also makes special accessories in fluo yellow to reflect Boll & Rava’s identity and capture the spirit of the modern age.
“The challenge is to give customers comfort and self-confidence. We want our clients to feel confident when they wear our suit and give them power to do whatever they want in life. In the past, knights wore armour. The armour gave the wearers power and confidence. The same concept applies to clothes. For us, well-designed clothes are the modern armour. In our collaboration for Leicester City, we started by underlining our shared values.
We created a special design for them using our fluo yellow, the blue of the club and the camouflage army pattern. The players will feel confident when they are up against Manchester United or Liverpool,” says Rava.
“For Monaco, we proposed a very chic look like shorts and double-breasted jacket with gold buttons. But the guys said they were sportsmen and never wore anything like this. However, little by little, they gained media attention when they arrived at the stadium in this total look with the jacket and bag. They became confident and they won the cup, which was great,” adds Boll.
The duo’s second brand, Ace Denim, is equally as chic, neatly combining the casual fabric with such luxury details as metal buttons and embroidery.
The brand Ace Denim uses premium-quality fabrics that are all from the same base, double twined and twisted, made from 98-per-cent cotton and two-per-cent elastin for comfort. The brand’s washes make its products unique. Washing techniques are renewed every season to deliver ever more sophisticated products with a luxurious feel.
The signature of Ace Denim is the use of galvanised copper as the colour of all the metal elements including buttons, rivets and zips as well as packaging and the lettering on the label. The choice of colour reflects an alliance between industrial roots and sophisticated modernity. And every year, Ace Denim chooses an artist like Paul Sibuet or Alec Monopoly to collaborate on a limited-edition collection.
The two happily admit that their favourite destination is in Asia. “I’d say Hong Kong is really inspiring as well as Bangkok because as we’ve learnt more about the country, and its culture, we have found inspiration for our designs. In Europe it’s Milan. There we can really feel the sense of pret-a-porter,” Rava notes.
“The French Rivera lacks the contrast – it is only beautiful. Here you have beautiful contrasts, you have tradition, you have culture, and you have modernity. Bangkok has the same synergy like in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore. And we don’t have this in France. So, it is very nice and inspiring to travel in Asia. To observe and get inspiration,” says Boll.