I still think less is more.” Mattiussi, founder of the three-year-old label AMI, sits near an old Empress Tree in the courtyard outside his studio and showroom located off the main Boulevard Beaumarchais, in the fashionable Haut Marais quartier.
When Mattiussi was 17 years old, he moved to Paris from a Normandie village along France’s northern coast. He subsequently attended and graduated from l’École Duperré, where he specialized in menswear. “It was the only public fashion school in Paris. I love the courses and it was a very exciting time in my life. I did my first internship with the designer José Lévy and since then I have always been a menswear designer.”
After stints at Dior Homme, Givenchy, and Marc Jacobs, Mattiussi opened AMI Paris with an aim at producing a men’s wardrobe at affordable prices while maintaining high design, and eschewing seasonal trends. Stores like Barneys, Le Bon Marché, The Webster, and 10 Corso Como bought his first Fall 2011 collection of slim, classical silhouettes—wool short jacket pant suits, cropped navy wool or gray herringbone single-breasted coats, flannel and corduroy pants, and striped wool sweaters. At close range, Mattiussi’s touches are discernable: navy tuxedos with jackets cut short enough to break their formal feel, wool double-breasted jackets with large lapels and slightly shorter sleeves that dispel the rigid structure of the garment.
“I try to create a cool wardrobe for guys who just love dressing well in a simple and classic way,” Mattiussi says. “The reality is my concept and Paris, the city I live in, is very inspiring.”
In late December 2012, Mattiussi opened his first flagship store —in the Haut Marais neighborhood—that serves as an ignition point for future AMI retail embankments across the globe. When asked what’s in the works to expand AMI, Mattiussi says: “Opening stores around the world.” Following the opening of a second shop in Paris’ Left Bank, the next destination will open in London.
In July 2013, Mattiussi won the ANDAM Fashion Prize for emerging talents who showed in Paris, allowing him to open a new studio and showroom not far from his store on Boulevard Beaumarchais. “Our audience has grown to the extent that a show became necessary. We needed to present the collection in a format more appropriate for the growth of AMI.”
Eric Jennings, Vice President and Fashion Director of Menswear, Home, Food & Gifts at Saks Fifth Avenue, says, “AMI is clever in the simple approach to menswear. However, Alexandre always includes iconic pieces that are easily identifiable back to the brand each season. He can take very familiar pieces and make them look suddenly fresh and new, as well as relevant for guys today—guys who appreciate designer clothes but don’t want to look like fashion victims.”
Men’s designer fashion has been shifting in recent years toward greater commercialization via adaptation of a “streetwear” sensibility. The high-priced sweatshirt, for example, now has street currency, but requires less actual currency to purchase. Mattiussi seems to have caught the drift of this shift, and doesn’t seem too worried about ballooning into something mass-market: “I think AMI deserves a bigger audience and I feel there are opportunities to grow. I think about womenswear and of course kidswear, but we need to take our time and think seriously about the next steps. AMI is the story of my life so I have time and I want to keep the brand at a human scale. I don’t want 300 stores and 10 collections per year.”
Photographer: Nicolas Wagner at NicolasWagner.com. Style Director: Long Nguyen. Model: Salim Kechiouche. Makeup: Nabil Harlow for b-agency.com, Paris.