As LACOSTE marks its 90th anniversary, the Bonneterie Museum in Troyes, France, hosts an exhibition honoring the brand’s unique history and the talents behind it. The exhibit showcases the brand’s vision of sport and fashion, the iconic “petit piqué” fabric, and the people who have contributed to its success over the years.
In the picturesque town of Troyes, the Bonneterie Museum (Hôtel de Vauluisant) presents a comprehensive look at LACOSTE’s history through photographs, archives, and iconic outfits. The exhibition highlights the brand’s journey, from the humble beginnings of the polo shirt to its modern-day collaborations with international artists.
The LACOSTE story began in 1923 during the Davis Cup when tennis champion René Lacoste set his sights on a crocodile suitcase. Despite losing the match, an American journalist overheard the story and playfully dubbed him “The Alligator.” This nickname was first mentioned in the Boston Evening Transcript and eventually became the foundation for the brand’s iconic crocodile logo.
Designed by Robert George in 1927, the logo found its way onto René Lacoste’s blazers and shirts, making history as the first visible logo on the outside of a garment. The story of the LACOSTE polo, however, is as much about innovation as it is about branding. René Lacoste’s partnership with Troyes industrialist André Gillier led to the creation of the emblematic “petit piqué” knit, a breathable and lightweight fabric offering comfort and freedom of movement.
LACOSTE’s revolutionary approach to tennis attire challenged conventions and transformed 1930s fashion. The brand’s modern and lightweight wardrobe gained international acclaim, and production of the “Lacoste Shirt” began in Troyes in 1933. Together with Gillier, they were pioneers in designing sports outfits that catered to a changing society and its evolving relationship with the body.
The exhibition at the Bonneterie Museum highlights the story of these two visionary men, celebrating their enduring impact on the fashion world. Dominique Fiorano, curator of the museum, explains that the “petit piqué” knit is just one of many industrial patents filed by the Troyes knitwear company.
Visitors to the exhibition are treated to a comprehensive view of LACOSTE’s journey, from its manufacturing roots to its various collaborations with international artists. Featured works include Li Xiao Feng’s porcelain polo shirt, Keith Haring’s B-boys and B-girls, a special edition polo designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Visionnaire magazine, and a hand-sewn crocodile polo by Brazilian designers Campanas.
The LACOSTE polo, which could have remained a simple piece of clothing, became a fashion phenomenon in the 1960s. This exhibition showcases the brand’s continued dedication to innovation and its unique ability to seamlessly blend sport, fashion, and elegance. As LACOSTE celebrates its 90th anniversary, the exhibition at the Bonneterie Museum in Troyes serves as a testament to the timeless appeal of the iconic crocodile.
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Musée de la Bonneterie
(Hôtel de Vauluisant)
4 Rue Vauluisant
March 31 to September 24, 2023
Open from Tuesday to Sunday
From 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 6pm
Click on this link to read this article in French version