If designers are increasingly thinking about a providing a comprehensive 'wardrobe' for their woman, then Coperni Femme duo Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant are doing it from an uncompromised standpoint that considers Brutalist architecture and modern art as much as the perfect pair of black trousers. Launching with a capsule line in 2013, their third collection for S/S 2015 won them ANDAM's prestigious First Collection Prize, which included a jury of Pierre Bergé, Ellen Von Unwerth and François Henri Pinault.
The pair met at Mod'Art International fashion school in Paris six years ago. 'We immediately opened up to each other. Sébastien was a bit edgy, kind of rock, and I was the opposite, a well brought-up boy with good results,' says Vaillant, who is the business brains to Meyer's creative touch at the label. 'We started working on our school projects together in a very obvious way and then, a few years later, it became Coperni.'
While Valliant maintains a commercial and strategic role for Coperni Femme, he also works simultaneously as an assistant to the embroidery and embellishments director at Balenciaga. 'I've learned almost everything there. I had the chance to work with Nicolas [Ghesquière] and then Alexander [Wang].' The double workload is a lot to juggle but Vaillant is resilient. 'I'm young and I'm still learning a lot between an amazing established company and a new promising brand.'
Meyer meanwhile works solely on Coperni Femme; Vaillant describes his partner as 'the essence of the brand. There is Sébastien's vision and talent mixed with my wishes of answering a collection plan, customer desires and wearability.'
Driving the label is a shared fascination with Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance theorist who proved that the universe revolves around the sun. 'We are passionate about all the ideas that come from this name: sun, earth, planet, universe, light, revolution, future, warm, round, technology. And the most important: to see the world from a different angle,' says Vaillant.
This backstory translates into a line focused on 'architecture, cut and minimalism'. The clean, modernist aesthetic is softened by an intense interest in fabrics and techniques such as pleating and bonding. 'We like the contrast of noble, natural fabrics such as thick wool, cashmere, cotton poplin or silk, mixed with technical fabrics like microfiber and Japanese yarns,' Meyer says. 'There is a French jersey we call "pastille" from a great supplier in Lyon. Our product is actually 100 percent made in France.'
For S/S 2015, short polo dresses, mini skirts in structured canvas, tailored crepe t-shirts and narrow, cropped trousers all look coquettishly cool, modelled by their friend and consultant Lolita Jacobs. 'We like the idea that some clothes look simple at a first glance but you actually need more time to understand the way it's made. Even if some pieces seem easy, there is a lot of importance in the details.'