who is Stéphane Ashpool, the designer and basketball player who will dress the French athletes?
The intruder of the news shines the spotlight every night on a character who could have passed under the radar of the news.
The fashion world has known Stéphane Ashpool as a stylist thanks to his brand, Pigalle. He has just been appointed artistic director of the Blues’ outfits at the Paris 2024 Games. The French designer will take care of three types of clothing: performance outfits – for podiums, official visits – but also those dedicated to training and competitions . A real exercise, given that you have to stick to the 60 Olympic and Paralympic disciplines, from football to skateboarding, through wheelchair tennis and para-weight.
Stéphane Ashpool is 40 years old. He was born in 1982 in Paris, in the Pigalle district, to an English sculptor father and a Bosnian dancer mother. The latter arrived in the French capital thanks to a scholarship from the Sarajevo Opera, which had allowed her to leave Tito’s Yugoslavia.
Born into dance, he grew up with basketball
From this only son it is clear that he has found a middle ground between the imagination of his parents and the sporting discipline, in this case that of basketball. “My mom was first at the opera, then she danced in contemporary companies. I was always present at rehearsals, with all these dancers. I think I absorbed their imagination”Stéphane Ashpool tells franceinfo. “But he was too exuberant for a young man.”
“Basketball was in the schoolyard. I liked throwing the ball in the air, organizing games”continues the designer. “Already at 6-7 I was the one who decided, since it was my ball. I started playing very quickly in what is considered the great Parisian club, Racing. Then I continued at a high level, up to 18-19 years.”
“Basketball has marked my life”Stéphane Ashpool, stylist
At that time, the leader of the Paris basketball run believes that top-level sport lacks a bit of imagination. He makes a living by coaching youngsters in two clubs for ten years. Around the age of 20, he tries to cling to the Sorbonne, through a DAEU (Access Diploma to University Studies), a sort of parallel path … during which he falls asleep for a period in cultural mediation, before leaving. ‘abandon.
Upsetting the codes… of the tricolor flag
Stéphane Ashpool then devoted himself above all to the collective he created, Pain O Chokolat, which organized parties, parades and various events. His network is growing very rapidly. He convinces Anne Hidalgo to build a completely flashy basketball court near her old school in the Pigalle neighborhood, which still exists.
In 2007, he opened his own shop under the Pigalle brand, and created clothes that were above all an excuse to parade again and again, with rap sounds, in the Salle Pleyel. The designer brings Nike on board the adventure, which has become very trendy since his clothes are worn by Jay Z, Rihanna or Kylian Mbappé.
With Paris 2024, the one that has so far made fashion and entertainment “more or less sporty” switch to the other side, towards clothes above all “for sports”. We already know the main shade: ecru, especially to avoid overly chemical dyes. He also takes care to produce as locally as possible in France, but also in Spain, Portugal and a little in Morocco.
But for some disciplines it is not easy. Track cycling, for example, requires very technical fabrics. Judo needs materials woven in Japan, which will then have to be approved. The designer dialogues with the various federations and with the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games in Paris. But of course Ashpool is here to make Ashpool. And so to shake up the conventions.
Future mayor of the 9th arrondissement of Paris?
The discussion, obviously a little agitated, concerns his great idea finally validated: “reinterpreting the French flag”. “As soon as I say that, everyone jumps to the ceiling. We reinterpret blue and red, and if we lighten up, we put white, so it creates turquoises and pinks. We just integrate tints to make it a little more pop, a little less formal. And above all that it looks a little more like today’s France”says Stéphane Ashpool. “I wanted to integrate the yellow, it was difficult to get the message across: ‘Why should we write the word France in yellow?’ And there, we discussed a mirrored logo. But it depends on the sports, because that you can light up your opponent through your jersey in certain disciplines, which seems normal to me.”
“I was there to push the envelope, otherwise we don’t do anything.”Stéphane Ashpool, stylist
To reflect on all this, last year he also met athletes, such as the judoka Clarisse Agbegnenou, the boxer Tony Yoka and the disabled fencer Maxime Valet.
At 40, Stéphane Ashpool already has an idea for the post-Olympics period. His dream: to one day become mayor of the 9th arrondissement of Paris, which stretches from Pigalle to the Opéra, mixing very diverse populations. The program is not yet very clear, but he already promises to be “a mayor of the field”.