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Louis-Nicolas Darbon smudges the line between art and fashion

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Louis-Nicolas Darbon smudges the line between art and fashion


We meet Louis-Nicolas Darbon, the most stylish man on Instagram, to hear about his latest projects, his biggest fashion faux-pas and his favourite London haunts

Louis Nicolas Darbon

Just in time for London Fashion Week, we meet Louis-Nicolas Darbon to hear about his latest solo exhibition, ‘Run Way’. Inspired by Pop Art and Street Art, Darbon seamlessly smudges the line between art and fashion with iconic paintings that hark back to the swinging sixties, and the Warhol Factory.

We meet at The Exhibitionist Hotel in South Kensington, where he will be unveiling his latest work, the Rue Saint-Honoré corridor, on Sunday 20 September to mark the opening of his show ‘Run Way’ – open to the public from 21 September to 9 October.

Inspired by the most stylish street in the world, the Rue Saint-Honoré corridor is a specially commissioned wall mural which will be unveiled for the first time at the launch of his ‘Run Way’ collection. Durban’s collection is undeniably fun and liberating, bursting with energy and colour, which can easily be depicted in his existing mural at The Exhibitionist Hotel – a reproduction of his iconic ‘The Girl With Lollipop’ painting.

Pop Art and fashion have always gone hand in hand for Parisian born, Notting Hill based Darbon. Alongside his exploding art career, Darbon is one of the few prolific fashion illustrators of today working for big names such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Mont Blanc and Christian Louboutin.

Considered the most stylish man on Instagram, and with nearly 100,000 followers and counting, it’s no surprise that Darbon has attracted a lot of interest in both the world of art and fashion. It was through his Instagram that Massimo Dutti approached him last October and flew him to Barcelona to work on a personal tailoring collection concept. Armed with just a few pieces of fabric and some sketches, he created 20 realistic looking ‘country luxe’ lifestyle illustrations.

With more fashion illustration projects in progress with Massimo Dutti and Ralph Lauren, and another art exhibition lined up in Marrakech, this man is showing no signs of slowing down. Watch this space!


You have worked with huge brands including the likes of Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Mont Blanc and Louis Vuitton, how did that all come about?
Luxury and vintage watches have been a huge passion of mine since a young age. When I was at University I used to think I would end up working for a watch maker! There’s just something about the craftsmanship of the watches that has always inspired me. When I graduated, my first job happened to be at Marc Jacobs and ever since then I have stayed in fashion. Fashion is a huge inspiration to my art, from the fashion brands to the models and the bold colour combinations – I’ve always found a lot of inspiration from fashion.


Is there a particular project that you worked on which you have the fondest memories of?
I recently worked with Massimo Dutti on an illustrations project. When they approached me there was a rough concept and story but no designs. It was an amazing experience to work with the team to bring the ideas to life and create a story with my illustrations and give the clothes a new dimension.


What is your biggest fashion faux-pas?
Badly fitted suits and bad quality shoes.


Do you have any advice on how British men can dress better?
In my opinion British fashion is synonymous to amazing quality items and brands. From fabrics such as tweed and Scottish cashmere, to trench coats by Burberry and shoes for life by John Lobb, to Savile Row – the most famous street in the world when it comes to tailoring. I think British men are very much aware of quality and have a great sense for luxury items, it might just be the way they choose to mix and match things. I would wear a tweed blazer with some blue jeans and sneakers for a modern take on tweed, rather than wearing tweed with matching wool pants for the old-school hunter look. In general I would stick with classic pieces in quality materials – go for cashmere, wool and silk fabrics and shapes that are never out of style – a fitted suit, a double breasted blazer, a great leather jacket and some black jeans and you are sorted! Don’t forget to invest in great pair of shoes – all you really need is monks, sneakers and a pair of slippers.


What key pieces should men have in their wardrobe this autumn / winter?
A camel coloured coat in wool, a navy or checked double breasted blazer and a pair of proper Chelsea boots in black or brown. 


If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to have with you?
My girlfriend, my sketchbook, and matches.


What is your biggest turn-on and your biggest turn-off when it comes to women?
Biggest turn-on is women with confidence and personality, biggest turn-off is women with no personality or confidence.


Which men have inspired you, and which women inspire you?
I am hugely inspired by amazing artists such as Warhol and Basquiat to more modern street artists like Banksy and Keith Hearing. I seem to have a thing for beautiful blondes – Kate Moss is a huge inspiration, and Brigitte Bardot, Elsa Hosk and Cara Delevigne have all been featured more than once in my artworks.


What are your favourite go-to haunts in London for shopping, eating and drinking?
As I live in Notting Hill, Portobello is my go-to place for antiques and vintage finds, and I love the shops around Mayfair and Savile Row for wardrobe updates. For eating and drinking my favourite place is Chiltern Firehouse – the vibe and atmosphere is right down my street and it reminds me very much of old school Hollywood (which I am a big fan of).


Do you have a favourite spot in London?
Chiltern Firehouse!


What is your favourite holiday destination?
Marrakech, Italy and California.


Tell us a bit about the Rue Saint-Honoré corridor launching on 20 September
My work is heavily inspired by the fashion industry and our generation is extremely knowledgeable about luxury and brands, as I was born and raised in Paris I wanted to create something that reflects my art, and the idea of the “corridor of dreams” came alive. I decided to name it Rue Saint-Honoré as today ‘street’ is a brand itself, I have turned this iconic street in to my kind of Pop Art.


Tell us a bit about your ‘Run Way’ Solo show
Run Way is my latest show which I created specially for the launch of Rue Saint Honore. It’s a collection of iconic portraits, fashion and Pop Art which I want everyone to be able to see and enjoy.


What is the inspiration behind your Neo-Pop Art?
I want my art to be fun and liberating, working with pop colours and creating beautiful portraits that many people will want to hang on their walls to brighten up their home. For me it’s inspiring to create stuff that make people happy.


What would your last supper be?
I actually have no idea, what a depressing thing to think about!


What are you reading right now?
The  $12 million stuffed shark by Don Thompson.


Favourite film?


Any regrets?
Never – only memories.


How did you reach 100,000 followers on Instagram?

It all happened quite quickly – I didn’t even own an iPhone two years ago, let alone Instagram! I started gaining interest and followers when I did illustrations for Pitti Uomo in Italy, and then after a few fashion collaborations it snowballed! I have a separate account, @artbylouis, which is more focussed on just my fashion illustrations.


Go on, tell us a secret..
But then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! Alright then – my hair is actually waterproof!