Launched in 1996, the Paris designer label has reinvented itself and opened new stores. A meeting with Vanessa Bruno at the heart of fashion week.
Why was the decision made to produce a second Athé line?
Simply because the market has changed. But ultimately, today, the more a message is focused on, the better it is. There is a profusion of information (the Internet, social media) and at a time when having two brands can cause confusion. I needed to focus on having a vision, a vision of woman, a vision of what I was doing. It was better and it was done completely naturally as it came into focus gradually over the course of two years.
Were you thinking about the customer or retailers in taking this decision?
It is a feeling that I had towards the consumer. For me, the narrative about the line was no longer a narrative that could be pursued since what the consumer likes is A PARTICULAR brand. And the idea of telling him/her that we were offering them a second entry-level line with lower prices, and another premium brand, that was no longer a sensible narrative. Today, women understand that very well. Also, I have always said, “I make simple clothes for intelligent women”. Our clients have taste, know what quality–price ratio they want and have their own style. It was therefore really clear.
What do you think about the acceleration of fashion taking place? What is your position?
Firstly, I still have the opportunity to be independent. I am trying to make things filled with pleasure with my teams and to give my clients a glimpse into my brand to make them feel good. It is something that is established, a confidence, a certain intimacy that binds us together; they are not bombarded with marketing or emails, but they have a relationship with the brand that is important as it lasts a long time. We also have new clients who come and it is more like a small private club. But I say this in a democratic rather than elitist sense with the idea that nothing is imposed; rather clients are supported, served, advised; they are kept close.
Who is the Vanessa Bruno woman?
She is a woman who is and who remains about 30 years old; she is a modern woman, and she is active, which is important. But active in the sense that she is with her children, she has work, she receives friends in the evening, she has energy, she needs comfort, to feel good in her clothes. This means that she needs to feel that she is HERSELF. She is also elegant and I want her to feel secure in what she wears, that is very important. She has a certain allure, a free spirit, always with a fashionable Paris side to her but nonchalant, Bohemian in spirit.
What is your view of fashion?
Everything happens very quickly, there are phenomena of innovations, phenomena of new designers who arrive in new fashion houses, and who pass through and are gone. Lastly, those who are rooted in a passion for the quality of work and the quality with which the clothing is offered and at the same time with a real line, are quite rare.
Fashion show or presentation?
The brand has been here for a long time. I like to know that I was once very happy to put on shows, I loved that. I was also very happy to set up my installations and presentations and I am happy with what I am doing today. Put yourself in my shoes and you will see that every morning I want to do what I do. Simply to be put under pressure, to be subject to the dictates of fashion that means that I have to do all this in order to exist, that’s not for me at all. What is important is to produce beautiful collections and lovely products, to offer beautiful items and have a lovely world as the backdrop to it all. Lastly, I want to be there to explain and present the collection; it is almost more important than the media façade erected around it.
What is the latest news about the brand?
We have just opened a store in Annecy and in a month, another one will open in Deauville. We are currently opening in various towns in France with the aim of being quite flexible. We feel things in relation to the client. We don’t have an established marketing plan and we make the most of the opportunity if the place suits us. Abroad, we work a lot with Asia, including Japan. At the moment, we are launching pop-up messages about shopping bags: the “Market shopping bag”. It is a large project and I am hoping it will come to France.
Lastly, tell us about the Autumn–Winter 2018 Collection.
It is inspired by the young Charlotte Rampling who was always an iconic image for me. At that time, she combined the romantic and androgynous, English and French elegance, Swinging London, which I loved. Because of this, in the collection there are velvet dresses, I worked with a range of colours in shades of terracotta, ochre, dark purples, contrasted with blacks and whites. I made use of materials printed in the English style with cashmeres, alpacas and other more masculine ones such as velvet (smoothed, cotton, Corduroy). This natural material is wonderful in winter as it takes on so many shades; I love its noble side in wearing as well as in the attraction of the colours. There are also romantic blouses with suits, men’s jackets, dresses with a wicked side as they are very short but with a nod to the '70s.
Photos: portrait Vanessa Bruno - collection A/H 2018
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.fr.