Moncler Launches A New Design-It-Yourself Service, Moncler By Me
Jacket by Moncler By Me. 8 Moncler Palm Angels pants. Fashion Editor: Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.Photographed by Campbell Addy, Vogue, November 2022.
The gleaming slopes are perfectly poised for self-expression, a blank canvas for show-off freestylers, schussing snowboarders—and, of course, a great showcase for medal-worthy style feats. My early attempts at ski style were formulated on trips to Sweden on school breaks when my sisters and I lavished zinc oxide rainbows over our faces (the deft “color play” of Pat McGrath it was not).
But the ultimate ski staple—a trusty down jacket—has, along the way, become a mainstay of the workaday winter, and so much more: As temperatures drop, I wear mine bundled with knits and track pants on the whippet walk, or thrown over Saint Laurent cocktail minis and barely-there blouses for evening. And while we may have loathed athleisure as a fashion hype word, it did give us all license to throw a jaunty sleeping bag over anything and get away with it—for a while. (While down jackets are cozy on the inside, they can come off as a little dire from the outside.)
But with a ski trip planned for early 2023—to regain my alpine confidence after a long hiatus—I’ve been thinking: What to wear now? Something individual, yes, away from the identikit-Instagram crew—but since I’m not in the practice of relegating my skiwear merely to annual trips, I want something that plays well on the off-piste of home soil, too. Enter Moncler, the luxury outerwear label with its roots in the mountain village of Monestier-de‑Clermont, after which it is named, but equally at home in music videos and the metropolis; its new bespoke personalization service, Moncler By Me, launches online and at Moncler stores this month in Manhattan, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo.
There are two quilted jacket designs ready to personalize, both of them inspired by the iconic glossy and puffy Maya. “It’s the original Moncler—the first jacket we made, in 1952,” says chairman and CEO Remo Ruffini from his office in Milan. “Of course, it’s not exactly the same—we have improved a lot in terms of technology, weight, and quality.” This year’s model has a leaner silhouette thanks to the distinctive boudin construction—horizontally stitched quilting with each square centimeter filled with a precise ratio of down, ensuring both greater warmth and a lighter weight.
I start with the hood and immediately go for leopard—it’s detachable, so goes my reasoning, so any Dame Joan Collins drama could be played at will
The Mir is the women’s cut and the Vion the men’s, but this is far from prescriptive—there’s an intentional fluidity to the project that feels modern and in keeping with the diverse aesthetic Ruffini has brought to the label. Four years ago, he pioneered Moncler Genius, a rotating roster of designers that radicalized the Moncler offering and that has featured, among others, Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino, Craig Green, Jonathan Anderson, and Simone Rocha. “It was a way to talk with a different crowd, different communities,” Ruffini says. By not relying on a single vision, Genius allowed the brand to speak to a wider demographic as each designer challenged what fashionable activewear could be. Perhaps most radically, a pre-Genius collaboration with Junya Watanabe “helped us to develop new technology, new ways to work,” Ruffini says. (When he saw the early designs, the notion of actually producing them seemed, let’s say, daunting. “I said, ‘No—there is no chance,’ ” Ruffini says.)
Ruffini, a consummate sportsman himself—he skis everywhere from Courchevel and St. Moritz to Jackson Hole and Aspen—doesn’t see this new service as about fashion per se but about “freedom—it’s what I want to give our customers.” Over the summer, friends of the house, including Sarah Andelman, Fabien Baron, and Karl Templer (the brand’s campaign stylist), have given the service a sort of trial run. “Sarah did a great job,” Ruffini says of the legendary Colette founder and creative consultant. She customized her jacket while “thinking of the snow, love, and happiness!” as Andelman puts it. Cue an all-white base—decorated with several green clovers—and a big red heart. She also shares my on-piste/off-piste notion of the new service: “Moncler By Me—to me—means the mountains and the city, the softness and the protection.”
Inspired, I try the online configuration process—oddly, in the midst of London’s historic 100-plus-degrees-Fahrenheit heat wave. First, I immediately size up by one, wanting to take on my sports with heat-tech layers underneath—but also venture into the less glamorous environs of city-park life with my jacket atop a hooded sweatshirt or Aran knit. Next up, I choose from the four Moncler-themed colorways laid out onscreen like Pantone charts. There’s Iconic (the classic tricolor you probably associate with Moncler branding), Mountaineering (tougher shades—emerald, white, olive), Paninaro (a mix of nostalgic ’80s and ’90s notice-me-now sportswear hues—a cool vintage orange, a bright peacock blue), and Special 70° (lilac and turquoise, in honor of the brand’s 70th anniversary).
I’m sold on the Paninaro, named after a stylish ’80s youth subculture in Milan—think early hypebeasts in a preppy mix of colorful, graffitied Moncler and mopeds—which inspired Ruffini’s first Moncler purchase at age 15 in nearby Como. “My mom said, ‘If you want to go to school on the back of a motorcycle, you need a big jacket—it’s freezing,’ ” Ruffini tells me. (So it was practical as well as fashionable.) It also brings me back to those early ski trips of mine, all mirrored shades, snoods, and the lurid color flashes of an era when brighter was always better. (Discreet black jacket—begone!) I pick the vivid “azzuro” blue, and “leopy” animal print, arranging them over the six customizable jacket sections.
Onscreen 3D jacket visualization simulates shadow and light and offers 360-degree views, and my jacket is starting to remind me of two of my favorite (if disparate) sportif style references: the dashing Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, and Princess Diana, whose daring ski mix of Head and Bogner elegantly stood out in Lech and Klosters. Distributing the colors, I start with the hood and immediately go for leopard—it’s detachable, so goes my reasoning, so any Dame Joan Collins drama could be played at will. Keeping the body of the jacket fresh in minimal white, I add more leopard to the arms, creating a gilet effect (which also captures that retro sports vibe I am feeling).
There’s a felted logo-bearing pocket on the one sleeve, and that’s status enough for me, but you can also emblazon a larger logo, text, or a symbol—snowflake, heart, star, lucky clover, sun, flame, or cloud—as you wish. (The price of your jacket—updated in real time—reflects the level of customization, and can range anywhere from $1,945 to $2,670.) Experimenting with my monogram, first modest-sized on the chest and then larger on the back, I settle on a gothic font on the arm in blue, playing on my après-ski reveal: an endorphin-popping, sky blue lining. I am usually nervous when using the term color blocking—it brings to mind Lego Duplo color combinations—but as I click “Design Complete,” I feel that I have created a nostalgic ski jacket on my own terms. (A bit of derring-do in the design, I secretly hope, may even kick my performance up a notch.)
Three weeks later, my cocoon-like jacket arrives in a giant Moncler box (perfect for stashing lesser-used goggles, moon boots, and the like). The jacket is slick and ultra glossy, and a well-executed parallel stop before my full-length mirror appears to provide the perfect contrast to high-rise black Khaite jeans and turtlenecks (the urban Bond-girl default look for now).
A storm on a snowcap this is not: Ruffini talks of endless possibilities and the expansion of the service in terms of both design and delivery. “This is just a taste,” he says, and then: “Ciao!” He’s off on his boat, heading for Capri and then Southern Italy. His own navy Moncler By Me jacket awaits him for a cooler adventure later, in the Altiplano of Argentina. “It’s not a typical ski,” he told me earlier. Maybe we should all be aiming for peak individuality—whether on actual slopes or in Park Slope, facing the elements never felt so lively.