Panneau de tendances de la collection automne-hiver 2017.
Franck Mesnel (à gauche), a dessiné à la main chacune des cartes pour les 30 ans d’Eden Park.
Franck Mesnel (left) hand drew each card marking Eden Park’s 30th anniversary.
Mesnel’s first jersey with the France national rugby union team.
Former rugby star Franck Mesnel has a knack for being where he’s least expected. His fashion label Eden Park is celebrating 30 years of impertinence.
When he’s in his Paris office, does this former rugby international still think back on his years on the field, the post-match celebrations, the pin-drop silence when the kicker is concentrating intensely? “Oh, yes,” says Franck Mesnel, aged 55, with 56 appearances for France. “Developing Eden Park was always another way of getting adrenaline, a rush. I was dreading the end of my career, so rather than retrain, I looked for a conversion.”
He went into fashion, creating a brand, a tribute to Auckland’s legendary stadium, 30 years ago with his friend Éric Blanc. At the time, he was a “spoiled kid” from Carrières-sur-Seine and played at the Racing Club with a bunch of Parisian lads equally deft at backward passes as off-the-wall humor. They’d come onto the field wearing beret, or, at a 1987 final, pink bow tie. “In those days, being Parisian meant not being from the Southwest [the heartland of French rugby]. We had to make our mark with cheek and brilliant play.”
After years heading onto the field with his well-groomed look and specially lengthened shorts, Mesnel has kept that low-key elegance based on good fabrics and unexpected details. It was also a way of pushing things to the very limit while playing by the rules: rugby is unforgiving in that respect. Today, Mesnel works out on a bike, flies helicopters and likes to draw when he’s sitting in a plane: a reminder of his six years at the Beaux-Arts and a future as an architect, which he gave up to go into advertisingbefore that little bow tie came along. For its 30th anniversary, the founder and director of Eden Park wants to “give this Anglo-American-inspired brand a truly French touch,” an impertinence dubbed French Flair. Anticipate the next move, forget the nostalgia. Don’t let the present go, like a ball slipping out of your grasp. He admires today’s game. Could he imagine playing today? “Yes,” he smiles. “I would just have had an extra 15 kilos of muscle; I would’ve adapted.”