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July 28 2014

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10 posts tagged "Vanessa Seward"

Vanessa Seward: Sensible Luxury Crusader

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Vanessa SewardFollowing five collaborative capsules with Jean Touitou’s A.P.C., Vanessa Seward is taking things to the next level and launching her own brand with the financial support of A.P.C. She’s already begun working on her first collection, which is set to debut in Paris for the Fall ’15 season, and a series of stand-alone stores are already in the works. Here, Seward, an alum of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and, most recently, Azzaro, talks to Style.com about her vision of sensible luxury, why low-waisted jeans are the worst, and what we can expect from her new line.

How did your collaboration with A.P.C. start? Was it kind of an experiment?
It was not even an experiment: Two and a half years ago, it was a one-shot, because [A.P.C. owner Jean Touitou and I] knew each other, we liked each other, and I missed working. So he said, “How about doing a collection with us?” And because I loved the brand, I was really happy to. It was a brand I bought and used and understood, so it was a nice challenge.

Did it come as a relief after doing so much high-fashion?
In a way, because when you’re doing high-end fashion, it becomes very difficult to do casual because it’s always a bit overpriced. And somehow it never looks as good. The couture houses have a wonderful hand for evening dresses, but casual is more complicated. What looks cool is when you combine the two. With the very first [A.P.C.] collection, I did things with couture fabrics combined with jeans and Irish sweaters. That was a relief for me. And I think a couture sensibility with jeans made for a really good fit. They sold out really quickly.

Your catchphrase is “sensible luxury.” Could you define it for us?
Even when a woman earns a good living in France today, luxury is still very inaccessible—and among the more accessible brands, there is a heavy connotation: You’re either boho or rock-chic, etc. It feels like a disguise. In previous generations we consumed less—you bought something a little more expensive that would last for years, and that really speaks to me. Even if they’re not as expensive, clothes are still an investment, and a nice sweater or skirt should last and make you look good without making you look like a fashionista.

What do you keep in mind when shopping? Is there anything you’ve bought lately that you love?
When you buy something, it’s important to be able to see yourself wearing it ten years into the future, and knowing you won’t feel stupid when you look at it in a photo. I don’t like over-designed clothes. I like clothes that are simple, that have a nice fit, that make you look good and don’t have too many details. Your personality is what counts. Then, luxury has to come in the finishings, in the cut, in the color, and material.

What have you bought lately?
I love my new Michel Vivien sandals because they fit with my notion of sensible luxury and they are also timeless. I get an “old Saint Laurent” feel from them. And at the same time, they will not look dated. I could give you a whole list of what I bought at A.P.C. For example, the Victoire jeans from the last collaboration are an homage to my friend Victoire de Castellane. I’ve known Victoire since I was her assistant at Chanel, and she has always been a big inspiration.

Are you doing the muse thing?
Yes and no. Victoire, her sister, and the friends around me are all big inspirations. For me, the danger lies in always designing [for oneself]. The collaboration with A.P.C. is a bit like working with a publisher. I try to design things that appeal to a wide range of women.

Are you—like many of us—relieved to be getting away from low-waisted jeans?
Oh, my God, so happy. There’s nothing more depressing, there’s nothing that makes me feel fatter than low-waisted jeans! There was a whole period when I would just not wear jeans anymore. At every house I worked with, and especially with Mr. Azzaro, I learned a lot about respecting the body. I like things that make you look good without crossing the thin line into overtly sexy.

What’s your take on Parisian style?
It’s about knowing how to balance an effect. Those who grow up in a family culture of sensible luxury will hold on to an Hermès bag they inherited, or an old jacket, and they are good at mixing couture with jeans. If they are going to be really dressed up, they won’t wear much makeup and their hair won’t be too done. That makes it cool.

What can we expect from your debut collection?
I’ve started working on the collection and it’s almost like psychoanalysis. I’m basically reviewing my whole life: I was brought up in London, and my family is Argentine, but they are a bit English, and there’s a lot of Paris, too. Then there’s all the time I spent working at Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Azzaro. When I was working with those brands, I was thinking about their codes. Now I am creating my own. Just thinking about what my staples are is really exciting. What we call “affordable luxury” is just about the price; what I am trying to do is broader than that. I want to do something seductive that plays on bon chic, bon genre with a little naughtiness, and I think I can do that in a way that is mine.

Photo: Tung Walsh

A.P.C. Invests in Vanessa Seward’s New Label

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Vanessa Seward

The sixth and final Vanessa Seward x A.P.C. collection will be unveiled this September, but come 2015, Seward will have a new project: her own ready-to-wear label. WWD reports that Seward will unveil her first namesake collection during Fall ’15 Paris fashion week. A.P.C. will provide logistical and financial support for the venture.

Best known for giving new life to Azzaro, Seward also held positions at Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. In an interview, Seward said she wanted to create a “chic, timeless wardrobe” for her new line. A.P.C.’s Jean Touitou referred to it as “sensible luxury.”

Seward’s collaborations with A.P.C. are a prime example of the abovementioned aesthetic—she often uses luxury materials in a modern way to create garments at contemporary prices. “I’m going to be able to go futher with my own design identity,” she said. The collection will include casual and formal pieces as well as shoes, bags, belts, and costume jewelry. Her first boutique is set to open in Paris in September 2015, and additional locations in L.A. and New York are a top priority down the road. With such strong support from Touitou, we can only expect great things.

Photo: Courtesy Photo 

Waist Management

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A.P.C.’s raison d’être is denim; its new guiding spirit is Vanessa Seward. The former Azzaro designer focused on cocktail dresses for her capsule collection for the label, but now that the collaboration is continuing into the future, she’s applying herself to the house’s bread and butter, too. Her second capsule collection for A.P.C., for Spring ’13, includes her first takes on denim, in exclusively high-waisted styles. Given the cuts of her skirts and trousers, A.P.C.’s traditionally steely raw denim wasn’t an option. A suppler version keeps the goods wearable, and during a preview, founder Jean Touitou peered inside a waistband to reveal one of the collection’s secrets: expandable chain stitching to prevent any potential disagreements between fabric and the human form.

“It’s good for me because my life is changing,” Seward said last week at the New York leg of A.P.C.’s 25th anniversary party tour. “I was always in cocktail dresses and high heels. Now I’m a mother of a 2-year-old and I have a different life. I’m now obsessed with a type of casual chicness.” She’ll have more time to ply said obsession. “We started off to do one collection; then we said, OK, let’s do two.” She added, “Now I’m working on the third one.”

A.P.C. x Vanessa Seward denim arrives at A.P.C. stores early next year.

Photo: Ezra Petronio/Courtesy of A.P.C.

A.P.C. X Vanessa Seward: A Cure For The Common Collaboration

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Collaboration fatigue is an affliction that’s been making the rounds among fashion folk for some time. But the collection that ex-Azzaro designer Vanessa Seward has done for A.P.C. is quite darling enough to pierce the haze. For starters, there’s the happily un-corporate, très A.P.C. way it came together. “We’ve all known each other for quite some time. Then Vanessa, how do you say, had some free time, and the will to do something with us. That was it,” explained A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou, in his usual puckish manner, at the label’s Left Bank showroom a couple days ago.

But mostly there’s the clothes, which take A.P.C.’s essential nature and give it a pretty upgrade in couture fabrics, some from the archive of storied Swiss mill Abraham. The bronze-y gold lamé, however, is a new version that’s far less itchy than the old stuff, and thanks to Touitou’s knack for navigating production, the prices are still right. A sweet pale golden jacquard lamé dress tops the line out at around $700, while a pair of hot pants in the same fabric rings in at around $325. In the navy and red floral silk, the frill-necked dress is about $590, while a flippy skirt is about $400. The capsule is tightly edited, but these seem like clothes that you can wear for seasons to come without feeling like you’re in that piece. Getting your hands on them is another issue. At least A.P.C.’s new West Village store is finally open, after a few landmark-driven delays—another place to line up.

Photo: Ezra Petronio

The Dos And Don’ts of A.P.C.’s Jean Touitou

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Having made his name on some of the planet’s best jeans, A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou is expanding into the glamour business. In December, he tapped former Azzaro designer Vanessa Seward for a capsule collection of high-end womenswear that the two will debut in Paris during the upcoming fashion week. All this as he continues to expand his global retail empire: He was in New York last week to preside over the opening of his third NYC store, in the West Village, before jetting to L.A. to continue his search for space. At A.P.C.’s Soho showroom, Touitou sat down with Style.com to discuss the things he won’t do (red-carpet dressing, celebrity shilling, open in Abu Dhabi), the things he will (keep his clothes largely logo-free), and why everybody should stop dressing like a rock star already.

A.P.C.’s West Village store is open now at 267 W. 4th St., NYC, (212) 755-2523.

 

 
During Paris fashion week, you’ll show your upcoming capsule collection with Vanessa Seward. Will it be an ongoing collaboration?
We’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s a lot of work, and it’s too [much] for us. So I’m really happy I did that, but I think it’s going to be one thing. I might have the will to do more, to ask my studio to do more—it’s delicate—feminine pieces. Because our trademark for women is a bit of frigidity of design. Don’t get me wrong—it’s an idea of frigidity.

It’s a strictness.
It’s a strictness, which I believe is sexy, but you might want to play with sexiness in a different way, like the way we did with Vanessa. And maybe when it’s over, maybe we’ll continue to have some dresses like this. Continue Reading “The Dos And Don’ts of A.P.C.’s Jean Touitou” »