There’s been an awful lot of “pretend” tennis action for me this week. At Tommy Hilfiger’s Rafael Nadal strip tennis match in New York’s Bryant Park, umpired by Jane Lynch, I watched models strip down to their undies (as well as the great Rafa himself) whilst being lambasted by Lynch’s Coach Sue Sylvester persona. And then a few days before that, I went down to my consistently deserted local tennis court to indulge in a bit of sweatband wearing, plastic racket serving to try out a collection that got me quite excited last season at New York.
Lacoste’s “René did it First” A/W 15-6 collection by Felipe Oliveira Baptista hit the right notes for several reasons and not just because they splashed a catchy slogan across some sweatshirts and trackie tops. Baptista was inspired by the idea of winter tennis and a stylistic approach to the sport that doesn’t take itself too seriously hence the slogan pieces, the riffs off of 1920s club jackets the central focus being on the tracksuit as a uniform. In doing so, Baptista back sliced his way through a lot of references all at once, Richie Tenenbaum of course from Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (a surefire “ace” as film inspo goes), René Lacoste’s own pioneering tennis attire as well as the 1970s swagger of Björn Borg and John McEnroe as they tried to out-headband each other.
That sort of nostalgia meant that the collection is up for a bit of silliness. And as an armchair tennis fan who is better than commentating than doing any actual playing, I’m more than the right candidate to ponce around in a retro 1970s font all over my chest. It’s ok! These are clothes made ripe for the type of person that can yell all the right things at the telly (“That was f***king out!” or “Oooh…that backhand slice…!”) but can’t actually hit a ball to save her life. Hence why I’m dallying around the court with a childsplay racket and a ball that is better for playing fetch with the dog than hitting any winners. It goes without saying that Lacoste’s own tennis credentials are more than up to scratch. Doesn’t mean that us unskilled tennis aficionados can’t get involved. Even if it does mean that the wandering bag lady in Chestnuts Park gets to have a laugh at my expense.