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April 20 2014

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Piece D’Anarchive’s Elegant Anarchy

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The last thing you’d expect to find in Paris’ oldest square, Place des Vosges, is a brand whose name intimates anarchy. But then again, Victor Hugo was a famous resident, so vive la revolution! The three founders of Piece d’Anarchive, sisters Déborah and Priscilla Royer and their friend Virginie Muys, insist their revolt is of the respectful kind. “We want to use our suppliers and their traditional methods, which we very much cherish, but we want to push them a bit,” Déborah says. Plus, there’s more to the name than anarchy. ” ‘Archive’ refers to French creativity and savoir faire and ‘piece’ is our attachment to rarity—each design is numbered according to its creation time.”

For their third season and first complete collection (the first two focused on knitwear and leather), Priscilla, previously in charge of Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label in London, took inspiration from a William Forsythe ballet. “It started with the ballet’s name, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, so the collection carries the two concepts—sport discipline and precision and also, the ecstasy you can get by high achievements,” she explains. Having “seduced” some of France’s finest traditional mills and ateliers into working with them, they’re now adding their own unconventional spin. A green knit is actually turned inside out, for example. “It was originally meant to be much lighter, but the neon yellow came out too obvious, so we turned it inside-out. The factory couldn’t understand our choice; they kept asking, Are you sure?” The traditional guipure lace from Calais has been translated into a woven open-work stitch that feels less precious but equally charming as a formal shirt and pencil skirt. And when they decided they wanted a Panama hat, they, of course, turned to Ecuador’s finest, Homero Ortega.

But it all comes back to modern urban living. “We always test the clothes, making sure they are comfortable and the fit is right,” says Déborah. “We all move all the time, around Paris on our Vespas, so our clothes are supposed to move with us.” Nothing anarchic about that.

Photo: Alice Dardun

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