By Raiment Young
Two years ago in Paris, around this time, I was walking on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré when I spotted, across the street, a queue outside a shop with its entrance blocked by so many shoppers that it was not possible for me to know what it sold, or under what brand it was selling that it could draw forth such incredible pull. On my way back, still on the same rue, I came behind the last man of the same line that had not shortened since I past it. For a lack of something better to do, I decided to join the queue.
Most of the people waiting were Asians, and from the audible Mandarin of not a few, I realised that whatever was at the end of this orderly queue, it would have to be something utterly irresistible to the Chinese. My curiosity only made the wait unbearable, and I turned my attention to the Christmas decorations that prettified the facade of the Hermes building opposite. Ten minutes into the wait, a group of seven guys ladden with paperbags emerged from the store. I saw with no uncertainty what the people in front of me were queueing for: Moncler.
The go-to label for stylish and functional winter wear is finally here in Singapore. Moncler, a long-time favourite among the snow-loving and apres-ski set, debuted at Ion Orchard last month, much to the delight of those who frequent powder-perfect slopes of winter escapes such as Hokkaido at this time of the year. A label synonymous with down jackets, Moncler became a favourite among celebrities when it took a more fashionable route in its design and styling. It, too, became a collaborator of choice among those who value the tradition and authenticity that easily synthesise with innovation—designers such as Junya Watanabe and Thom Browne (who is, in fact, behind the sub-line Moncler Gamme Bleu) are still in on-going partnerships.
Does sun-soaked Singapore need a Moncler store? My curiosity was, again, aroused. How does it feel, coming in from the equatorial heat, to buy a down jacket even when you require it?
No sooner had I stepped into the gleaming store than a jacket found my gaze. The hood-less nylon top spoke to me like none of the others did. As I picked it up, the salesman in attendance was eager to tell me that the one in navy that I was holding (in size S, which is a letter never found stitched solo to my clothes) was the last one. I asked him why that was so, and he said, “Our price is the most competitive in the Asia-Pacific region. People have been buying by bulk!” To be sure, I was not looking for bulk, but “buying by bulk” completely boggled my mind.
Still, I chose to try on the jacket. The fit was too snug, but I could feel that, in the right size, this was what I would want in a winter jacket: warm, light, not too long, easy to layer underneath, and not at all bulky. The set-in sleeves, unusual for active wear, enhanced the slimming silhouette. But it was the design details that seduced: Under the Mandarin-style collar that yielded a funnel neck, there’s a secondary ribbed, knit collar that seems to serve as a facing. A tri-coloured trim borders the jacket on the collar (both sides), zip, fly, cuff, and hem. While this seems to bear more than a passing nod to Thom Browne’s way with stripy details (or, er, K-Way’s), it is also in keeping with Moncler’s modern sportif sensibility.
I had to slip the jacket off. After about three minutes in it, I began to feel like I was coddled in a sleeping bag. Not far-fetched if you consider the history of Moncler (an abbreviation of the French mountain village of Monestier-de-Clermont). Founder René Ramillon started the company to produce quilted sleeping bags, which, due to its warmth, eventually lent itself to the design of the brand’s in-demand down-padded nylon jackets. Necessity, as it turned out, birthed invention.
Moncler Amiez Down Jacket, SGD1,509, is available at Moncler, Ion Orchard. Product photo: Moncler. Collage: Just So