Hi Sylvain, could you tell us more about yourself?
Born and raised in Grenoble, a city close to Lyon, I left at 20 to pursue my study in Nice and for shorter periods of time in Toronto, Shanghai and Roma. Then I lived in Milan for 2 years before coming back to Paris where I still live today.
Les Belles Heures, where does it come from?
I got literally filled up by all the places and different atmospheres I have been exposed to these last few years, especially during my time in Italy. I knew that, somehow, all that would come to life in some kind of creative form that I couldn’t picture at the time. When the idea of launching my own brand became real, I knew that was it. I wanted to tell a story about places, atmospheres and colors. That’s how it all started.
What are those places that inspired you the most?
Italy has been key in fine-tuning my sense for color. In Los Angeles, I had a lively experience of that Californian laid-back attitude you can find in Ed Ruscha’s work or all over the West-coast hip-hop production, from Snoop Dogg to Kendrick Lamar. Paris, Corsica, Greece, Portugal, Morocco, the list goes on and on and draws as much from the impressions and feelings as from the particular scents, colors or textures that make all these places so vibrant.
Are there any people out there that inspire you through their work or style?
I admire the effortless elegance of all-time style icons such as Gianni Agnelli, Muhammad Ali or Orson Welles. On a more contemporary note, I am inspired by people such as Marie-Louise Sciò, Yolanda Edwards, Margherita Cardelli, Robert Rabensteiner, Matt Hranek or Gerardo Cavaliere, but I also find a great deal of inspiration from next door elegance. That’s really the beauty of it, everyone can access that touch of flair. That’s a matter of attitude, not fashion. If you’re feeling comfortable, then you will inspire charisma. It’s a far too common mistake to consider that there is only a handful of chosen ones out there who have it all.
Work wise, I admire pioneers, groundbreaking artists that make the sublime look easy and reachable. Josef Albers, Paul Klee, Mark Rothko mean a lot to me through their work on colors, which is also true for Saul Leitner, Bernard Plossu or Claude Nori in photography. Italian contemporary writer Erri de Luca is a daily source of inspiration through its blazingly simple writings which I consider the perfect balance between frugality and sophistication.
Your scarves are crafted in Italy and a large part of the pieces from your collections are inspired by Italian places. Would you please tell us more about the ties you have with this country?
I have always felt very close to Italy, its culture, way of living from the aesthetics of it to its simplest and most sublime gastronomy. My home town - Grenoble - is a place crowded by a lot of Italian families who emigrated just after WWII and just settled there, in the first big city right after the Alps. You got to understand that Grenoble is quite as much an Italian city than it is a French one to me. You have entire streets dedicated to Italian restaurants, where like 30 pizzerias and trattorias are lined in, it's really particular. As such, I have been exposed to that culture very early on. There also are deep connections with small towns in Italy where we would go for football tournaments for a week. Lots of summer vacations, and then I lived in Roma for 6 months as a student. I liked it so much it was very natural to jump on the opportunity to go work in Milan for 2 years. I naturally speak the language and I have been extensively fed by this aesthetic when living there. When putting my first thoughts into the brand, Italy came out as a natural destination either from an aesthetic than a production point of view. I mean, Italy owns a secular textile savoir-faire and a has very unique sense for colors. It felt very natural to source part of the production there, in a brand that aims at bringing some kind of synthesis between Italian flamboyance and French more classic elegance.
Why have you chosen to do squared scarves?
Scarves are one of the most versatile and effortless pieces in our wardrobes. I mean, it's a simple piece of fabric that we can use and wear in so many ways. Around the neck obviously, in the hair, around your waist as a belt, your wrist or your ankle. It can beautifully accessorize a handbag, be a very useful neck warmer when riding a motorino, or on a boat. In terms of meaning, there is obviously a very chic aspect to it that we cherish a lot, but it also often carries a bourgeois and kind of uptight elegance which is somewhat balanced by the popular roots of the "fichu" that the workers and farmers from the earliest 20th century used to wear to protect from the dust and wind along with a very natural elegance that comes from functionality. Our DNA lies in that casual chic and effortless elegance. It seemed all natural then to enter the market with collections of scarves.
Could you tell us who design the prints?
All the prints are designed by me, or co-created with the brands, creative directors and artists we collaborate with, Marie-Louise Sciò in the case of Issimo. I do not have a proper, rigid creative process that I would follow no matter what. I always work in relation to the theme of a given collection but then the ideas can come from everywhere; a color captured in the street, the combination of various textures, the cut of a piece of clothing, a piece of art, a book, a movie. Here we are talking more about impressions that I try to put on fabric than about real, practical inspirations. The idea is mainly to have fun and not overthink the whole process. It's a really intuitive one.
Are your scarves for men or women?
I like the idea of a wardrobe made of basics in which anyone, men or women, could pick from. I think it is the right way to do things nowadays.
Thank you so much for this Sylvain.
Many thanks to you Viola, it's been lovely.
Interview by Viola Marella Bisiach, US Vogue