Valentine, tell us about your journey and what led you to create your own brand?
I grew up on the Castellet plateau, next to the Paul Ricard circuit. My father was a test driver and a Formula 1 developer in the heyday of motor racing. And my mother worked there for the English Winfield flying school. It was the golden age of motorsport, one of my many sources of inspiration. After studying geo-ethnology, I trained in fashion design modelling at a Parisian fashion school, the Chardon Savard workshop. At the same time, I worked with Martin Margiela. Then in 2006, I won the Grand Prix Femme at the Jeunes Créateurs competition at Dinard. In 2007, I created my eponymous brand, and in 2009, I opened my first shop, in the Marais. This year, I worked with my team to establish a flagship store 88Beaumarchais which includes two shops and, upstairs, the design studio and the showroom. In the first shop you can explore my collections, the second is for collaborations, and for Holism shop, a project focused on the house and the art of living around pieces that are unique and/or hand-made.
What is your approach, both aesthetic and ethical to this project?
Each of the pieces that make up the wardrobe is created around quality materials, chosen for their natural, recycled or durable value, and of Italian, French or English manufacture. All the collections are made in European, in France, Hungary, Portugal or Spain in specialist partners’ workshops. My partner, Arnaud, produces the shoes for the collection. I design them, and he has them made in the family garment workshop.
If you had to describe your world in a few words?
My obsession: to create a desirable and fairly produced wardrobe. Clothes that you want to wear and mix and match as you wish without suffering the obsolete dictates of a certain vision of fashion. Your clothes are your identity. My work involves developing pieces from different influences and shaking up the combinations to achieve a kind of honest integrity. Each woman is different and multi-faceted. A workman’s blue trousers, a flowery women’s blouse and a tailored jacket mix harmoniously and come together with the right degree of cool. I like the “craft style”, such as the ultra feminine, games of opposites, the raw materials worn by workers, the flow and the transparencies of silks, given an intriguing twist by pieces referring to the masculine or military wardrobe, like clothes with more street influences. The prints produced in my creative studio balance solid, muted, and clear colours.
What changes would you like to bring to your profession?
I think it is high time clothing makers became fully aware of the radical changes taking place in the world and in nature. We must all come together to think and implement effective short-term actions in manufacturing methods, from the raw material to the point of sale. This applies to all areas and it is the end customer who will be able to make these changes by consuming less but better. You have to get away from the idea that a garment is too “disposable”. With us, the emphasis is placed on quality at a fair price by taking into account the costs of fabric development as well as the way things are made. People working in the background must not be sacrificed. Without them, nothing would be possible.
Who’s in charge of decorating your home?
It’s a two-handed job. My partner and I complement each other very well. We hunt for treasures and bring back pieces from our travels. There are no mass-produced pieces. Hand-crafted work takes pride of place.
Where do you like to hunt and be inspired?
Everywhere I go on my travels. I like to meet new artists and craftsmen. The quest for authenticity and rarity are at the heart of my explorations. Beyond aesthetics, it is the history of the object and its potential utility that remains the starting point.
Which room or object you are most proud of?
My partner made our dining room table. We couldn’t find what we wanted, and we decided to work with wood in the Japanese shou-sugi-ban approach known as burned wood. Its design and creation was a real experience. The steps of burning the wood and washing it to achieve the desired result taught us Japanese patience.
Is there an artistic movement, an era or a personality(s) that inspire you in particular?
Brutalism, traditional craftsmanship transposed to today’s world: pieces resulting from age-old know-how in a modern context with an intuitive approach.
Photography & Text: Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily