It’s not often that you know the design intent behind the clothes you buy. It’s kind of like going to a museum and looking at a piece of art without knowing who the artist was or what compelled them to create the art. For me, the more I know about the artist and how they were inspired, the more I can appreciate and even connect with what I’m experiencing…it gives the art more significance, even if I don’t necessarily like what I see. And especially if you decide to buy a piece of art, knowing the details about how and why it was created makes your purchase that much more valuable. I feel like the same concept should be applied to our clothes.
Every Art Of Uniformity™ design has a special story that is inspired by a multitude of things. The inspiration behind the “An American in Paris” t-shirt seems a bit obvious…you’re probably thinking “yeah duh, Paris,” but I want to reveal a little more of the specifics to you. I’ve been to Paris a few times, and I remember how I felt on my first visit thinking “Holy shit! This is everything I imagined it would be and then some!” I didn’t really start traveling abroad until my early 30’s, so it was unlike anything I had experienced as an American. To see, touch, and smell things that have been around for hundreds of years is truly awe-inspiring. Paris is the birthplace of so many important art and fashion movements, and for an artist/designer, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.
My most recent visit to Paris was February 2020, and I was fortunate enough to make it back home right before COVID shut everything down. The purpose of the trip was to attend a couple of apparel trade shows and source the best fabrics and suppliers for AOU. However, the most valuable experiences and sources of inspiration I got were from wandering around the city solo and visiting every museum I could squeeze into my schedule. I was like a sponge, soaking up as much art, history and croissants as I could in the short time I was there. Walking around Paris feels like you’re on a movie set, it just seems so surreal sometimes. And I’m not kidding about the croissants…pretty sure I consumed about 10 lbs of butter in pastries alone.
One of the most amazing museums I visited was called the Musée de l'Armée Invalides, a museum dedicated to all things military from medieval to WWII era and also happens to be where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried. I must have taken a few hundred photos just at that museum. I geek out on medieval armor and old military uniforms, so my mind was completely blown as I went from one room to the next. The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail is insane, and the amount of work that went into just one uniform would be the equivalent to a couture garment costing thousands of dollars today. And to add a little serendipity to the story, I randomly came across a vintage clothing shop the next day and found an American army jacket from the 1980s...An American uniform in Paris!
Another incredible museum I visited for the first time was the Musée d’Orsay. This museum consists of mostly French art created from 1848 to 1914. I have a huge appreciation for Impressionism art, and this museum was chock full of it. I enjoyed it even more than the Louvre and would love to go back again someday.
So that brings us back to the t-shirt design: the combination of a 19th-century French Imperial Guard uniform and the broken brush strokes of 19th-century impressionism, conceptualized by an American listening to Gershwin while wandering the streets of Paris…and VOILA! “An American in Paris” is born. And believe me, if I could send you all a delicious, buttery Paris croissant with your t-shirt, I would.