Nobility is everywhere. But in the language of Arthur Avellano, it is all about lust, attitude and latex. Le Banquet, his Fall/Winter 2018 show, was a pure spectacle of excess. In Arthur’s imaginary world, fashion becomes a tale, classical flirts with underground and less is never more. Inside the walls of the oldest gym club in Paris, among the ceramic artworks of the most refined and delicate dishes, too much wine was flowing on the white tablecloths. Arthur’s creatures were strolling around the space celebrating the kingdom of Dionysus where pleasures come first and no one cares.
Reconsidering, reshaping, and demystifying the symbolism of latex through new innovative designs and garments is what makes Arthur Avellano a fashion pioneer within the landscape of young designers of his generation. He is making his own rules with guts, majesty and a hint of impertinence. Discover his second collection from behind the stages here and now.
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Who are you, Arthur?
I am a twenty-six-year-old French designer. I was born in Toulouse (in the south of France); I studied at the Fine Arts School of Toulouse (ISDAT), where I developed my taste for fashion. I later went to Paris, where I studied for a year at the Atelier Chardon Savard. My graduation collection worked very well, so I decided to launch my own brand and this past January I presented my second collection.
You seem to be mainly influenced by the controversial cinema culture of the ‘90s. Your first collection was inspired by Joël Schumacher’s cult film Chute Libre, and Le Banquet takes its impulse from the classic tragedy of revenge from Peter Greenaway's movie The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and His Lover. Can you tell us more about your relationship with the movie and how did the idea come up to your mind?
I discovered this film during an analysis class at the Fine Arts School and I remember it marked me; it’s been a reference for a long time. The theme, the lightning, the narration of the film, the music by Mickael Nyman; all of it accompanies my travel. Many of my friends know that I often refer to it as an obsession. And this was an opportunity for me to pay tribute to this film.
Behind the concept of Le Banquet, there are direct images of lust, abundance and excess. What does attract you from this aesthetic? Is that an aspect of yourself you’ve wanted to translate through this collection?
Yes, of course, it's a recurring theme in my work. My graduation collection was titled The Feast of Trimalchio and was referring to a chapter of Petrone's Satyricon book. This chapter speaks of a banquet organized by Trimalchio, a new rich upstart, a freed slave who’s heir to a wealthy master. His Pantagruelian feast is a pretext to impress his guests by displaying his wealth and sufficiency. This theme has fascinated me for a while, and latex is a very good medium to talk about it.
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Yes, latex is Arthur Avellano’s signature. Since your first collection, you’ve been improving and sharpening your technique. Can you tell us more about the secret behind the production process of your latex pieces?
Working with latex requires a lot of research – this is one of the reasons why I keep developing this material. At a very early stage, I was told to stop using it because it’s not wearable and difficult to sell – people still envision latex as something related to sex –, and I persisted because I found the challenge interesting. I spent time researching how to make it wearable, and I’m currently working with a specialised laboratory that treats latex. The discovery revolutionised my practice. But I can’t reveal anything else, it’s my secret!
In Le Banquet, the idea of nobility is reduced to one main fabric but also introduces an amazingly wide palette of colours: bright and dark red, sea green, acid yellow, and black shine through puffer jackets, flying suits, trenches, and large high pants. I find it fascinating to finally see materials as leather and latex – historically associated to fetishism – reinterpreted in new, innovative designs as well as in more classical garments. But how far do you think you could go with this dynamic? Is it an endless process?
I think it’s a process that needs to keep evolving. There is still a lot to do with this idea of ​​reinterpreting latex and trying to introduce it to a classy wardrobe. I find new ideas and techniques each season, and the clothes are more and more worked. My function isn’t just to redo a trench but also to do research on how will we be able to make it in latex with all its details and characteristics.
Latex is a very beautiful material but it has a lot of technical constraints; we can’t do whatever we want. And finding ways to make it happen, to make it possible is what interests me. But I’m still in my second collection, so there is still a lot to do. As for the leather, I developed it as it makes sense go along with latex because of the sexual universe, but also because I thought the clothes in this material would sell more.
Creating a dialogue between fashion and art is part of your DNA. The set design of your show was itself an artwork made of unique ceramic pieces in collaboration with L’Atelier de Paname. How did you work together on this project?
The relationship between art and fashion is totally a part of me; my parents went to the school of Fine Arts so I was born in an artistic universe – and it is in this one that I feel good. Last September, I joined L’Atelier de Paname to have more place to work on the production of orders from my first collection. I was supposed to stay for about two weeks, but the atmosphere of the place, the exchange with other artists, and the creative dynamism really seduced me, so I never left. I’ve found my place in this artistic universe. Salomé Partouche and Damien Moulierac are two artists I see every day at the workshop and with whom I share a lot. I told them about the idea of ​​the banquet and that I thought their ceramic pieces would make sense with both the collection and the show. So they agreed to manage it and I gave them total freedom to express however they wanted. And it’s been successful!
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Movement was also a crucial aspect of the show. Designed by Aymeric Bergada Du Cadet, the show was sequenced into four dynamics, four emotions, four rhythms. From techno to classic vibes, what was the main idea behind the conception of the choreography and the music, composed by Mehdi Bizen?
Yes, I really wanted the staging to have an important place this season, especially when we refer to a film as strong as that of Peter Greenaway. I called Aymeric Bergada Du Cadet to choreograph the show and asked Mehdi Bizien, with whom I worked on the previous show, to compose the music. My stylist Léa Cellier also played a very important role in the development of the staging. It really was an exchange between the creator, the stylist, the choreographer and the musician.
For those who’ve seen the film, they’ll know it’s characterized by the changes of colour through each space, so we played with different types of music, lights and rhythm for the show. I really give creative freedom to the people I work with; this time, I just gave the film as the starting point.
Arthur Avellano’s faces are strong and singular. Androgynous silhouettes also seem to be a key point of the casting. What are you looking for while selecting your models? Who is the Arthur Avellano’s boy or girl?
Firstly, I do the casting myself. I do not work with agencies or with a casting director and I think it will remain like that for a while. It’s a very important part of my work and I really integrate it into my creative process. I am constantly looking for faces, physiques and personalities that interest me. I don’t think I have a particular type of model; if you look at the casting of my last show, you’ll see there are boys who look more masculine and others who are more androgynous. I look for a variety of profiles because I try to show that there are a lot of different conceptions about what masculinity and femininity are. I think the Arthur Avellano’s man or woman is a person who assumes what s/he is or what s/he has chosen to be.
What’s next for the months to come? A word about the next collection to come?
The next few months are going to be very important and decisive for me. I was selected by La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode to present Le Banquet during Paris Fashion Week (women’s) at the showroom in Palais de Tokyo. And the next collection will also be an important step for me because it’s going to be Spring/Summer, so there will be less latex and leather. It’ll be a surprise!
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