Taiwan-born, American fashion designer, Malan Breton has released his latest line of menswear, inspired by the iconic Charlie Chaplin. The collection pays homage to Charlie’s ability to bring hope and joy to people in times of darkness, and his films of the 1930’s.
The collection is a mix of textures, fabrics and colours and is enthused by the natural beauty of Breton’s homeland, Taiwan. Here he tells us where his career began, his next steps and his role in awards season.
You started your career in entertainment, what made you move into fashion?
I grew up around fashion – my grandmother was a couture client to some of the houses in Paris. I used to walk in her closets and admire the fabrics, colours, textures and details, and think what menswear would be like if it were so vivid. This influenced me greatly as I would sketch ideas I had after being inspired by these elements. I sketched two things; fashion and classic French and English automobiles. One day I just got tired of auditioning, and of the business side of being a performer, I terrified my agent by joking that I wanted to leave the industry and become a fashion designer; finally, I did just that. That was difficult: I was quite fortunate to have the career I did in the East and America.
Where were you trained?
I trained under Scaasi and learned menswear at Turnbull & Asser. I never studied fashion at a university; I was afraid I would get boxed into a curriculum and lose my creative freedom. I never wanted to lose the joy that fashion gave me. I personally collected and studied foundation garments from the nineteenth century, dissecting them and restructuring them for nearly a decade before I apprenticed. My grandmother and the automobile taught me that a proper foundation could be built upon to achieve any form.
How long have you been designing menswear?
I have designed menswear garments for about twenty years. I tailored all of my own clothing before I launched the Malan Breton HOMME brand in 2010.
Why did you move into menswear?
Menswear was lacking at the time; there was very little colour, texture, and form. The average man had very few options. You could look like ‘box A' or ‘box B'. I wanted to give the world my signature, and move men out of a box: I'm so grateful it was well-embraced.
Are you inspired by Taiwan when designing?
I'm very inspired by Taiwan; its architecture, its natural beauty, the chi, are all very important in my process.
Who would you like to see wearing your menswear collections?
I'm very honoured to have dressed so many royals and celebrities. I would be honoured to dress Emmanuel Macron, David Beckham, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
What are your plans for the summer?
We dressed a number of men in the States for the Tony Awards. I think the red carpet will be my catwalk this season; we will also be presenting a unisex show this September.
Anything else in the pipeline?
There is so much. I'm costuming a feature film, launching a watch, a men's shoe line, directing a documentary film about men's fashion and a documentary about fashion in the dance world, and so, so much more.
Words by Ellie Dixon-Smith