First published by T Magazine on 22 May 2017
“You know, when you do a mono-product line, you need to feel inspired by it,” says Aude Castéja, the French designer behind the young brand Monographie. Her line is “mono” in that every garment is a riff on the same concept: shirting. In some cases, she has cut fabric away at the shoulders, while other pieces feature a bib front, an off-center opening or a series of cuffs stacked surreally up the sleeve. “There are so many options,” she says of the shirt’s possibilities. “I feel it’s endless.”
The plan to launch a clothing brand came to Castéja while she was working in marketing at Céline. The company was “a good school” for her, she says, but she eventually quit to study officially at the Paris fashion college ESMOD. She established Monographie at the tail end of 2016, and its second season — for fall/winter 2017 — will launch at Barneys at the beginning of June.
“I guess like many women, shirts are a key piece of my wardrobe and I’ve been collecting them for years,” she says. In putting them at the heart of her brand, though, she has become an expert on a much more granular level: “I really think about every detail. Nothing is left to chance: the measurement of the cuff, the size of the collar, the buttons, the choice of the fabric — I like it quite thick, with structure, not too transparent.”
The products are all made of Italian cotton poplin (Castéja may introduce other fabrics in the future), and manufactured in Portugal, at a factory that has also served Erdem, Victoria Beckham and Jacquemus. For fall, the designer’s favorite piece is a double-breasted hybrid of a shirt and a blazer, in pinstriped white with mock-tortoiseshell buttons. “There are both classic and experimental aspects I love about it,” she says. Also in the 19-piece collection are sharp accordion pleats, either in the sleeves or around the hip, and fragmented shirts that hang from multiple straps, almost like overalls. The color palette is white, navy and black, and the wide-spaced pinstripes were inspired by the calm, repetitive work of the painter Agnes Martin.
When it comes to expanding Monographie’s products beyond shirting though, Castéja is more cautious; the fact that the brand specializes in just one thing, she says, is part of its strength. For spring 2018, she will include some dresses — but they won’t be a dramatic departure. “I’m just adapting some designs that I created as shirts to make them dresses,” she says. “It stays shirts, you know?”