From sun collector to art publisher: it had to happen one day! Vilebrequin is joined by renowned Swiss contemporary art publisher JRP|Editions for a new “art” venture which will see acclaimed artists widen their horizons, inviting us to reconsider the creative possibilities of a swimsuit.
Curated by Lionel Bovier, Director of MAMCO Geneva and Arnaud Hubert, CEO of JRP|Editions, and orchestrated by the Vilebrequin team, this partnership expands the dialogue between art and fashion. In their very first brand collaboration, the respected publishing house introduces Vilebrequin to an ambitious selection of artists: Kenny Scharf, Sylvie Fleury, John M Armleder and Deux Femmes Noires (Racquel Chevremont & Mickalene Thomas)
As Lionel Bovier explains: “We wanted to curate a collection that would allow us to explore as many voices and designs as possible. This meant bringing together artists with radically different approaches, but who share an interest in how their work can migrate from the canvas or walls to textile. They are united by a common thread: the power of their work, the clarity of their artistic language, and the integrity with which Vilebrequin handled their projects.”
Confronting European and American, male and female, black and queer perspectives, this wide-ranging collection touches on abstract and figurative, conceptual and street art, reinforcing Vilebrequin’s promise to keep on taking the swimsuit into unexplored territory.
Vilebrequin’s unrivaled printing expertise, particular attention to quality, and inexhaustible creativity have brought the original Saint-Tropez trunk to the attention of the international art community: Massimo Vitali, Alex Israel, Donald Sultan, Virgil Abloh, and Derrick Adams are a few of the artists who’ve ventured into the ocean with Vilebrequin in recent years. They’re part of a fast-growing gallery, and a real opportunity in the eyes of Vilebrequin CEO and contemporary art collector Roland Herlory:
Our swimsuit fabrics are an entirely new terrain for artists. We do not consider what we do art, we’re more focused on reproducing artists’ work as closely as possible to the original in the most honest and respectful manner. With the know-how of Vilebrequin studio and ateliers, we are capable of delivering printing techniques that reproduce an original artwork’s unique color and contrast as faithfully as possible. Bringing art to the beach has always been the dream. This long-term collaboration with JRP|Editions will push our artistry to new places over the coming seasons.
At a time when the eyes are free to travel to places the feet can’t always get to, the relationship between Vilebrequin and JRP|Editions feels particularly meaningful. Early on in the pandemic, Vilebrequin CEO Roland Herlory and Arnaud Hubert, accompanied by Lionel Bovier recognized the potential for creating swimsuits with artists—essential for anyone dreaming of the coast and finding freedom again!
Presented as precious collector’s volumes with their own hardcovers, the Artists’ Editions just as easily belong on your bookshelf as they do in your suitcase.
MEET THE ARTISTS
No stranger to beach culture, LA-born artist© came up on the New York art scene in the 1980s. Steeped in imagery from 1950s American pop culture, his scenes and characters depict a cartoon-like utopia imbued with vibrant, optimistic colors. Faces in Places” and “Tortues Multico Rainbow,” to be released over one capsule in 2022, see Scharf’s Pop-Surrealist universe overlap with Vilebrequin’s signature joyful and playful DNA. Applying his figures to textile with the same ease he would a wall or canvas, Scharf invites the wearer to consider their “face value,” unimpeded by elitism or inhibitions.
Part of what I do and what I want to do is I want to bring art into everyday life. If you are confronted by something just walking in the street, that might change your day—it might inspire you.
After her Hermès bag bronzes (2000) or Chanel Yeti Boots lithographs (2019), the original Saint-Tropez swimsuit tailor handed Sylvie Fleury the product directly as a support to customize. Present throughout the collection, the two-color flame is a symbol for both the combustion engine—right where Vilebrequin takes its name from—and an invitation to “go faster,” wilfully borrowing from American subcultures. As the artist herself comments:
Life is chiefly a reflection on one’s self, a way to play with one’s identity, to modify it, to transform it. One goes through life with a ‘spaceship’ which is our mortal shell. Putting flames on a car are thus exterior signs of this shell’s customization.
Since the early 1990s, Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury has been exploring the crossovers between art, fashion, tuning, and the New Age aesthetic. By customizing objects borrowed from mainstream culture, she forces viewers to reassess the notions of value, fetishized luxury, and gendered consumption. With strong ties to Conceptualism, her artistic practice covers sculpture, performance, painting, and installation.
Initially used for wall paintings, the artist’s “Hot Rod” visual is revisited here for Vilebrequin as men’s and women’s swimwear as well as accessories. And what could be more appropriate?
John M Armleder
There is no essential difference between a painting, a print, or a swimsuit: what changes fundamentally here is the context and the distribution modes of the object. The forms and compositions can thus migrate freely from one support to the other.
—John M Armleder
For Vilebrequin, he has chosen to present two different projects: “GRA” and “NOLA.” The first, which will be issued as a men’s swim trunk and bowling shirt, is inspired by Armleder’s renowned “Pour Paintings” series, canvases coated in various materials that appear to have been assembled by chance while retaining a striking formal appeal verging on abstraction. The second swim trunk is an appropriation of a “found image,” reorganized as a pattern and rendered haptic through our ateliers’ flocking expertise.
John M Armleder is a Swiss performance artist, painter, and sculptor who has spent four decades developing his own creative vocabulary by mixing mediums, techniques, and movements—“a supermarket of forms,” as he calls it. Teaming an extraordinary visual culture with delegation principles and chance procedures, he exploits the tension between mastery and randomness. His body of work stretches from abstraction to appropriation, and installation to multiples.
Vilebrequin has always been convinced that freedom is its own art form, a conviction clearly echoed through this collaboration with John M Armleder.
Deux Femmes Noires, Racquel Chevremont & Michalene Thomas
The goal is to push artists of color—with an emphasis on female artists of color—to greater prominence in the art world. We’d like to be a part of the larger conversation challenging contemporary art as more than just a feminist movement.
—Racquel Chevremont & Michalene Thomas
Their project for Vilebrequin—whose own La Femme line has taken a front seat in collections since 2013—is presented as part of this initiative. Launching in February 2023, “Deux Femmes Noires” proposes a series of collages evoking the Harlem Renaissance period, subverting the representation of women and inviting a polysemic reading of the signs applied to textiles.
Products range from swimsuits and beachwear to bags and accessories, to offer an exceptional collection of forms, patterns, and textures. Racquel Chevremont was born and raised in NYC. A powerful force in the art world, she is sought out for her expertise and experience as an art consultant, advising institutions, corporations, collectors, and artists.
Mickalene Thomas was born and raised in New Jersey and lives and works in New York. A multidisciplinary innovative artist and shapeshifter, her career has been catapulted by her critically admired global exhibitions, Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Outside of her core practice, she is a curator, educator, and mentor to many rising emerging artists.
With Deux Femmes Noires, Chevremont and Thomas set out to increase visibility and opportunities for artists of color through two areas of focus: first, by working directly with artists to provide guidance and career opportunities; and second, by curating shows, advising institutions, and securing funding for exhibitions.
Exclusively available online at www.jrp-editions.com