“Do you know the way to Saint Tropez?” asks Women’s Wear Daily on the cover its May 12th edition reporting on the recent presentation of Chanel 2010-2011 Cruise collection on the port .
“There is something magical about Saint Tropez. It is so easy and it does not require complicated clothes”, said Karl Lagerfeld to WWD. He favored chiffon dresses for a Hippie revival look.
Fashion was always part of the mythology of Saint Tropez. Paul Poiret might have been the first couturier to make Saint Tropez his home, preferring the secluded calm of his Villa Treizaine to the bustle of the port. Today many fashion designers including Tommy Hilfiger or Catherine Malandrino vacation in Saint Tropez. Yet, Karl Lagerfeld is right . Saint Tropez has invented a certain type of style, a laid back, lazy fashion that happened on the port, in the late Sixties, somewhere between la Plage de la Ponche where real Tropeziens loved to go and the “new “port where elegant Chris-Craft competed with pristine yachts.
When the Rock and Roll stars invaded Saint Tropez, Martine Vachon had her Vachon store planted on the left side of the port when looking at the sea. She designed unpretentious and rather conservative collections with lots of knitwear and marine dresses and jackets. Her designs did not make it in the history of fashion but her shop was a must. Parisians (In the late Sixties it was mostly Parisians and celebrities who visited Saint Tropez) who enjoyed all the fashion in the world year around could not help buying a few items “ for the Summer”. There was also “Choses”. The store still exists. It was the place to find tee-shirts before the name even existed and espadrilles that lasted – if lucky! – for the Summer months. But the best was Lothar’s. This German maker had opened his store in 1969 and specialized in faded tie-dyed cottons. Pale blues, washed out greens and discolored pinks were the basic colors of his collections that included trousers, shorts, long dresses and simply cut shirts. Nothing was more sexy than a blue Lothars shirt largely opened on a tanned chest. Lothar’s men resembled the Blue Men of the desert. Gunther Sachs, the volatile husband of Brigitte Bardot,had adopted that dégaine.The total look was still trendy and there was no shame in buying the green trousers matching the green skirts or the same burgeoning top worn without a bra. Between the thin layer of Lothars cotton and the skin, there was nothing. An impeccable figure was required. Jane Birkin was the reference. Shopping at Lothars meant avoiding stops at Sennequier for a café Liegois or at the boulangerie for a slice of Tarte tropezienne.