I can’t say I hold many Americans to the standard of knowing talent that is well-loved outside of the U.S., the UK, or Australia. I blame it on the fact that the U.S. media doesn’t cover this topic, and also that we’re just not looking hard enough. It might also be that the U.S. isn’t very receptive to songs that are sung in any language other than English, unless it’s a Pitbull song with 3 recurring Spanish words. You know what, no. We just don’t care about foreign music, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on.
But we should care because some of it is really cool, and just because you can’t understand what the singer is saying doesn’t necessarily detract from the musical experience. Everyone else in the world has already discovered this fact, as illustrated by this one time I watched an Ecuadorian girl and a Turkish girl scream every word to A$AP Rocky’s F**kin’ Problems featuring Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar. Watching the obscenities coming out of their innocent, unknowing mouths as they screamed out of the car window was really something. Stromae, a Belgian singer-songwriter, can also be enjoyed without speaking French and just because he hasn’t made his way onto the U.S. charts doesn’t mean he’s small time.
Stromae has established himself in both hip hop and electronic music genres internationally and is best known for his song, “Alors on danse,” which became a number one hit in several European countries. He has previously collaborated with Kanye West and counts Anna Wintour (Editor in Chief of Vogue), actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy among his early admirers. Are you impressed yet?
He hasn’t stopped there. Stromae, whose real name is Paul Van Haver, collaborated with Brussels studio Boldatwork to develop his clothing line Mosaert. The name is a play on his musical identity Stromae, which is a play on the word “maestro.” That’s some Voldemort stuff right there. “The unisex collection is defined by college-style looks, isometric jacquards and African wax color motifs and printing techniques,” states the label and it’s constructed of several colorful patterns and psychedelic prints presented in polos, shirts, cardigans and high socks.
While the gorgeous lookbook clearly draws inspiration from old school class photos, it also very clearly mirrors Van Haver as a person. Van Haver was born in Belgium to a Rwandan father and a Flemish mother, which for those of you who aren’t familiar, is usually a Belgian person with some Dutch heritage and is also the name of the language spoken in Northern Belgium.
His father, a Rwandan architect, was mostly absent during his childhood and was killed during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, so he and his four siblings were raised by his mother in a working-class neighborhood of Brussels. The absence of his father is addressed in his visually striking music video for Papaoutai (watch below), which means, “Where are you, Papa?” The song swept the French music awards earlier this year and went to the top of the iTunes singles charts in more than a dozen countries. You’ll notice that colorful clothing with tribal prints similar to his new line are featured in the video.
The Mosaert lookbook shows a vibrant and pattern heavy collection with prim and proper models. Even without knowing Van Haver’s background the shots are stunning. Symmetry between black and white models is emphasized and two elders (of mixed races) always helm the group. Every capsule is beautifully shot including the last two, which feature his line being worn on tour.
However, if you’re looking to make one of these awesome items yours, a trip oversees might be in order – the brand is manufactured in Europe (France, Belgium and Portugal) and only available in limited stocks. “But there’s an online shopping section!” you say hopefully. Yes there is, and it only ships to Europe. If you find yourself in the old country, you can see the line in person at Colette in France and Hunting & Collecting in Belgium. If you won’t ever be in the old country and you’re wondering why you just wasted your time reading this, well – you’re more worldly now I guess. You’re welcome.