Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastian Mayen, the Paris-based duo behind “Vaillent Mayen,” have proven their potential with their critically acclaimed yet very modest collection, “Le Dîner.” The artistically compelling line was based on seven different texts, written by seven different women, and was featured in a short and delicate fashion video by Adeline Mai.
What is your inspiration for the line?
We don’t build our collection from inspiration such as trips, celebrities or trends. We like to work with experiences, to tell stories, to think about the garment deeply. For exemple, the first collection was inspired by a book called, “The Long Way with a Dead Horse,” and that title stays pretty true to what happened. We did the horse shoes for our line by traveling through France looking for dead horses. This is kind of weird to tell, but we recreated our personal experiences. That’s how we always work.
Describe the look or style of clothing in your own words.
We try to propose efficient clothes. On the one side, they are avant-gard, structured, and covered with embroideries. On the other side, we like doing simple garments; pure, minimalist and monochrome. We are not afraid of “old-fashion” looks or trends.
What is your favorite accomplishment thus far with Vaillant Mayen?
Our favorite accomplishment is our last collection, “Le Dîner” (The Dinner). We were able to do a presentation during Couture fashion week in Paris. We managed to show our whole collection – a complete work. It took place in a gorgeous apartment near the Luxembourg Gardens. We did a special installation with architects, found seven great models, collaborated with an artist who made a video about the line, and worked with an opera singer and music engineer. Fortunately, a lot of people came to the presentation. We were very happy and proud of our results. However, what excited us most about the presentation was the initial work; to receive stories from seven women that we admire and know, then imagine dresses for them.
What do you hope to accomplish with the line in the future?
First of all, to develop the company; to gather a team. We are looking for investors in order to have enough money to establish a complete brand. And in the future, we would like to develop a new concept. We’ll be working harder to find new ways of consuming and producing, or simply selling clothes, for example.
Who would you like to see wearing your clothing?
It might be flattering to see our looks worn by celebrities, of course. But our greatest reward would be to see people close to us wearing these dresses. We want to see our clothes living in every day life.
What is happening right now in fashion that is exciting to you?
Nothing! Fashion is getting complicated today, between financial pressure and novelties, or between a lack of creativity or to much extravagance. This last SS12 collection was very shy. However, there is a movement called “Nouvelle Couture” in France, which we believe in. It could be a prolongation between luxury ready-to-wear and Couture. Both young and old designers are working in a new way of seeing Couture. It’s becoming more modern, more free, and less settle. They go back to their sewing machine and understand the garments, rather than only the marketing and advertising. The collections are usually made in France. We are fans at the moment, however, of Anthony Vaccarello or Iris Van Herpen.
How do you and Sebastien work together? Who does what job?
We are both from the same Parisian school called “Mod’Art.” Sebastien learned stylism and modelling, while I was studying business and management. As we are only just beginning, we have to do everything ourselves. We sometimes mix our skills; I give my choice for fabrics or colors, and Sebastien helps me find a model or pick the font for an invitation. That’s how we work and complete each other.
What was your favorite part of fashion week?
The best part is to discover the collections that we’ve been waiting six months for. First of all, Balenciaga, which is the most important to us. Then Margiela, Celine, or Comme des Garcons.
What would you suggest to someone just starting out in the fashion design world?
Our advice for a beginner… well, to be sure about what he or she could actually provide and about what they can actually expect. It’s essential to be honest on the work we are able to offer. Just be sincere and conscious about talent, competitors, money, networking, and see how everything can match. This is the beginning of the conception of the company and the concept of the brand.