Being the Goat: The Iconic Cashmere of Eric Bompard
Ahh cashmere……. Redolent of luxury, softness and sheer indulgence, Eric Bompard has been bringing some of the best off the Mongolian steppes for 30 years
Article by Nicolas Payne-Baader
There’s no classical scholarship to suggest it, but it seems completely reasonable to assume that Bacchus’ bottom half was not just that of any old goat but that of the cashmere goat. Additionally as there are very few, if any, depictions of Bacchus wearing a shirt it is a completely fair assumption to think if he did it would be made of pure, heavy ply cashmere.
No material offers such visceral reactions or contortions of glee than pure cashmere. No item of clothing will ever be as frequently sequestered by girlfriends, friends, sartorially adept robbers, than one’s cashmere sweaters. I have had long term relationships that afterwards the thing I miss the most is that perfect blue sweater that did look lovely on her at the time but was also softer than Jason’s Golden Fleece and I never got back.
No not all cashmere is created equal and whilst high street chains have made a decent stab at cut price cashmere over the last few years it is absolutely no match for when you see the real thing. Although it is completely reasonable to have cashmere blends there is a huge difference between a ten percent cashmere and 90 per cent wool high street jumper and a two ply or four ply high quality 100 per cent cashmere sweater – and not many people produce the latter. One such producer of true and proper cashmere is Eric Bompard. Founded 30 years ago the eponymous brand was founded to bring real cashmere to France, straight from Mongolia. Ever since, Eric has been working with suppliers directly from the steppe and bringing some of the world’s finest cashmere to Europe.
The results speak largely for themselves, the range stretches out across a colour palette to make Dulux blush and the shapes remain largely simple and considered. The Turtlenecks in superfine cashmere are a special highlight, a lightness and softness of touch mean that it is one of the few turtlenecks that you can in fact wear suitable under a jacket without a shirt underneath it and be both a suitable temperature as well as not succumbing to strange twitches of itchiness throughout your evening. Another highlight is without doubt their saddle shouldered pullovers, it is always a mystery which the saddle shoulder is not more popular as it tends to give most men a slight boost in visual width of shoulder and conversely the illusion of a slightly smaller waist. Like much of their collection it also comes in no less than ten different colours.
The patterned pieces remain mostly the preserve of the women’s and children’s collections which did leave me slightly curious as to exactly how small the largest kids sizes really are and whether I could convince someone to manufacture the woven hot air balloon sweater in a larger size… In the scarf department there is definitely some room for maneuver although the stoles, strictly speaking, are in the women’s collection they are just a big scarf and it’s doubtful anyone could really accuse a man of cross dressing in the event of donning such an accessory.
No one in their right mind or full sobriety will argue that cashmere is not a luxury or an expensive purchase and there is an element of horses for courses, there’s a reason naval uniforms aren’t made out of cashmere and it isn’t just that Mongolia is really far from an ocean. There is something transcendentally luxurious and self-indulgent about cashmere, a reckless abandon of sensibility which is half of what makes it so appealing. To buy something purely for pleasure and unbelievable softness is something everyone should do at least once or twice in their life – it’s what Bacchus would have wanted.