Logo of the brand Maison Douillet
Alpine Collection

The Alpine Vest

For our first ready-to-wear collection, we’re reinterpreting a universal garment – one that has survived the ages in a simplistic form: the vest.

A discreet garment with a strong identity, the vest – through its shapes, colours and ornaments – tells the story of specific regional characteristics, techniques and histories, some of which have now been forgotten.

Through this garment, we are interested in our cultural heritage, the history of our mountains and its societies – we seek to pay tribute to our ancestors, their life of manual labour and their unique relationship with nature.

‘Opening The Fold’ – Samuel Palmer – 1881. Print showing a shepherd and his flock at sunrise.

A variety of Breton outfits, where the vests shows its importance to identity © Mucem, Gallimard.

From every angle

The vest : a piece of identity

The vest is a piece that has travelled down the ages, demonstrating – despite its apparent simplicity – an extraordinary variety.

Primarily a practical garment – worn under a jacket or coat to provide warmth and protection – the waistcoat has evolved over the centuries in many different ways.

Sometimes embellished (in the Balkans, in the Bigouden region), sometimes neutral (in carpentry), sometimes technical (in fishing) – the waistcoat never ceases to amaze us with its diversity.
Ornaments, materials, colours – all signs of cultural and social belonging.

From every angle

The moutain vest

In mountainous regions, the vest is of practical use – this sleeveless piece allows you to maintain a certain freedom of movement and provides thermal insulation.

Vests are firmly rooted in the mountain wardrobe – they are inseparable from life at altitude, becoming typical of certain activities (shepherds) or certain regions (Tyrol, Savoy, etc.).

Avanais Shepherd – Lys Valley, Pyrenees – 1892.

Photographie du Gilet d'Alpage de la marque Maison Douillet. Le gilet blanc est photographié contre la porte en bois d'une ancienne grange. Cette photographie nous rappelle que ce vêtement est inspiré d'un gilet de montagne, de la vie montagnarde et du patrimoine Alpin.

Photograph of the Alpine vest on a wooden barn door.

Good manufacturing

Wool: a good material

To interpret this common piece – the vest – we looked for a pretty, simple, complex, natural material: boiled wool.

To make boiled wool, the wool fibres are first knitted, then washed and agitated – to make them denser and more compact.

This process of “fulling” – i.e. washing the wool in hot water and mechanically agitating it – felts the fibres.

Thermal insulation: Wool is known for its ability to provide excellent thermal insulation. Because of its increased density after the felting process, boiled wool retains body heat and protects against the cold.

Water resistance: Wool felting tightens the fibres and reduces their permeability. Although boiled wool is not waterproof, it can withstand a certain amount of moisture. This makes it suitable for use in variable weather conditions.

Durability: The density of felted wool generally makes it very durable. It is wear-resistant and retains its shape and structure even after prolonged use.

Aesthetics : We chose boiled wool for its textured appearance and slightly felted look, reminiscent of ‘loden’ fabrics from the Tyrol region in the northern Alps, a region that specialises in boiled wool.

Felted wool can go under several names, hiding differences linked to its manufacture – and sometimes to the region of origin.

Wool felt :
Wool felt is made from wool fibres, amalgamated to create a non-woven fabric. There are two methods of felting:
– dry: using a needle, the fibres are tangled together to create the final shape.
– with water: under the effect of friction, the wool fibres – damp and heated – will agglomerate into a compact mass: the felt.

Boiled wool: Boiled wool is a knitted fabric which undergoes a felting process. A mechanical and aqueous process tightens the mesh and felts the fibre.

Loden: Originating in the Tyrol, an Alpine region shared by Austria and Italy, loden is also a felted wool but is woven, unlike boiled wool (which is knitted).

Good manufacturing

For something as simple as a vest, every detail counts.

Colour: natural

When it comes to designing pretty clothes, there’s nothing like using the colours found in nature.

We like to work with natural colours.

In the case of an undyed colour, the natural shades of the wool fibre (from unbleached white to dark brown) are selected and then combined to obtain the final colour.

The result is a material with a natural, slightly mottled colour – and no added synthetic dyes.

These natural colours remind us of the hues naturally present in the ecosystem – wildlife, trees, landscapes.

Lining: cotton poplin

A jacket’s lining is just as important as its outer fabric. We chose to work with an organic cotton lining in a neutral colour.

Poplin is a fabric whose origins date back to the 17th century. It’s a woven fabric, particularly appreciated for its suppleness, strength and slightly silky texture. Originally made from silk, poplin is now most often a cotton fabric – particularly used to make shirts, blouses and dresses.

It would seem that the term is a distortion of “papeline”, the fabric having been used in particular to make papal vestments in the city of Avignon.

Buttons: corozo

Corozo buttons combine sobriety, durability and respect for the environment. The natural texture and strength of corozo make for attractive, hard-wearing work.

Corozo, also known as vegetable ivory or tagua, is a natural material derived from the seeds of several species of palm. These palms produce fruit whose albumen is used to make clothing buttons.

Corozo seeds are harvested once the fruit has ripened and fallen from the palm trees. After harvesting, the seeds are dried and hardened. They are then polished and sculpted into a variety of products, including buttons for clothes, jewellery, door handles and other handicrafts.

Photo produit détail d'un gilet en laine bouillie marron sans teinture, unisexe de la marque maison Douillet , fabriqué en france

Detail of the Alpine Vest, showing the texture of the wool, its natural colour and the corozo buttons.

Good manufacturing

Contemporary model

We were keen to interpret the mountain vest in a modern aesthetic.

So we’ve designed a garment that responds to our sensibilities and the demands of modern life: sober, distinguished, adaptable – able to stand up to the different situations in life.

Made in France

In order to respect work well done, local workers and know-how – we choose to work in France.

For our ready-to-wear pieces – which require the highest levels of attention and precision – we work in collaboration with a workshop specialising in couture excellence, based in Paris.

The Alpage Vest

Maison Douillet