Hubert Burda Media

The rebirth of Courrèges

We meet Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer, the designers guiding fashion label Courrèges back into the spotlight.

Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer. Portrait: Jean-Baptiste Talbourdet

To mark the grand re-opening of Joyce Central in Hong Kong, the multi-brand boutique invited some of their closest designer friends to fly in for the celebrations. On the day of the big party, we sat down with Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer, the incredibly cool artistic directors at the helm of French luxury label Courrèges, for a quick chat.

A look from Courrèges' spring/summer 2017 collection

Describe the kind of woman who wears Courrèges.

Vaillant: We try to dress most types of women – this was André Courrèges' wish, also. So, for example we love to dress our friends – the cool Parisian girls – but at the same time we want to dress our mothers and people in America and Asia and everywhere else. We want to try and dress as many people as possible. We have a strong French vision, for example Lolita Jacobs, our muse, she’s really cool and beautiful and chic.

Meyer: And this is the DNA of Courrèges – to dress a lot of women.

How did you two meet?

Vaillant: In school about eight years ago. Arnaud was on the business management side and I was in the creative part.

Meyer: We started working together in a very natural way at school. And then we created our brand and then we were appointed at Courrèges. We are very lucky. It’s good to work in twos 'cause it’s a lot of hard work and there is a lot of pressure and responsibilities. It’s always good to have someone to share ideas with.

Your first collection had no total looks. Can you tell us more about that?

Vaillant: We felt that we couldn’t do a very classic show so we presented the jacket, the skirt, the dresses and the tops worn with Courrèges white bodysuits. The idea was to focus on the garments and to be different.

Did you face any challenges when trying to reintroduce this brand?

Vaillant: Everything was a challenge. We had to be ourselves and at the same time be respectful to the brand and take risks. It’s been a very exciting balance.

A look from Courrèges' spring/summer 2017 collection

What are the key pieces you think every woman should own from Courrèges?

Meyer: The jacket.

Vaillant: I love our jackets.

Meyer: The mini skirts too, of course.

Vaillant: We also launched a heating coat last season. You can charge it with your iPhone. Every woman should have a Courrèges heating coat.

Tell us about the autumn/winter collection that is currently available at Joyce.

Vaillant: The autumn collection was a continuity of our first collection.

Meyer: It’s always about the new product. The key piece from this collection is the heating coat. We wanted to introduce technology because we think it’s the future. Even if it’s not revolutionary now, it’s the first step in our goal to push, innovate and try something new. That’s very important.

Will you have more wearable tech in your collections in the future?

Meyer: We are going to try to include more technology each season. For example the last season [spring/summer 2017], which we presented ten days ago, we used 3D-printed tops.

Vaillant: The two last looks of the show were 3D-printed.

A look from Courrèges' spring/summer 2017 collection

Tell us something about the creative process.

Vaillant: Our roles are pretty separate but we do have meetings together.

Sébastien is more into the creation, concepts and colours, the creative things – and I’m here to find solutions and ways to make it happen and to talk about things to the team and management.  We do go to the archives, of course, because they are amazing. But at the same time our goal is not to create something that’s too literal to Courrèges, because we are not here to repeat the sixties-style pieces. We have to make it modern.

Meyer: Also it’s important to go to the archives to learn about the garments and how to construct it. It’s very important, it’s like a dictionary. For example, if I want to make a new sleeve, we’ll go to the archives and see how it’s possible.

A lot of luxury brands, have adopted the "see now, buy now" method. What are your thoughts on this approach?

Vaillant: We tried it last season.

Meyer: It was very interesting. We have a big name, Courrèges, but at the same time we’re a small company and going through the re-birth of the brand. The "see now, buy now" method – it was complicated to organise because you have to order the fabrics a long time beforehand and in a different way. It was complicated but interesting too.

Vaillant: When you’re a smaller brand, you have priorities, and for us, our priority is to build a strong ready-to-wear and to push technology and innovation. The "see now, buy now" is a good thing but for us, we prefer to have a solid base before we try and adopt things like that.