On a sunny day in Paris, team TWENTY6 sits down with Alexia Tronel and Caroline Perdrix of Atelier Bartavelle, and talk Marseille, sustainability, artistic collaborations, and the special nature of French Savoir-Faire.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your background?
Atelier Bartavelle was created by Caroline and myself. I have a background in Political Science and specialised in sustainable development. I’ve been travelling to do several projects with NGOs and the United Nations, but today I play the business side of Atelier Bartavelle.
Caroline graduated from the Chamber Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne; and worked for different prestigious maisons like David Koma in London, and Louis Vuitton in Paris. Caroline is the artistic director of Atelier Bartavelle.
What inspired you to create Atelier Bartavelle?
Caroline won the Mediterranean Fashion Prize in 2013 and exhibited her first collection at the MuCEM museum in Marseille; it was a lovely artisanal collection that revisited the use of mesh as a noble fabric. Mesh was once used by traditional French fishermen as a key textile in their trade; and I was absolutely fascinated by her collection. This was how Caroline and I met. What came next was simply a natural progression, and we created Atelier Bartavelle; a brand where her unique designs could meet a common vision of a fashion committed more committed to sustainability and constant collaboration.
Why do you think Marseilles serves as such a constant source of inspiration for your brand?
Caroline is actually from Marseille. The name Bartavelle is a cheeky reference to a native bird in the south of France; and our brand identity is inextricably linked with Marseille. Caroline is driven by her Mediterranean roots and actualises this through her creations and ultimately through the woman who wears our clothes. For instance, we take inspiration from the south of France, particularly, Provence, for the amazing natural light, the contrasting atmosphere, and rich colour schemes. The cut of each garment is inspired and designed with maritime geometries in mind; a reference to sails and boat houses, all common sights in the South. All our campaigns are also shot in the south of France, each one telling a different story and painting a different picture of the South.
Could you tell us a little bit about the philosophy of Atelier Bartavelle?
We wanted to be part of a “New Luxury” a socially driven luxury with sustainability at the core. Our dedication to quality and heritage is present in every collection. On each garment we produce, the label indicates where the garment is produced and even the name of the craftsman who made it! We truly believe in the skill of local artisans and craftsmen and try to give back to the local community. Our philosophy is “Do little, but do it well. Tell the story of all its parts”
What is it like, designing and running Atelier Bartavelle from the heart of Paris?
For the last few months, we’ve settled in a Northern Parisian neighbourhood called “La Goutte d’Or” It is a popular district in the city, where many incentives have been launched to encourage local designers to settle there. For us, it’s a huge source of inspiration. The neighbourhood is like a asmall village, brimming with diversity, and is a real mélange of culture. We work everyday from our studio and take the time to get inspiration from the various music events, exhibitions, and random happenings in town. The rhythm is pretty crazy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are also directly sponsored by the City of Paris through their organisation “The Ateliers de Paris” who have been providing help in countless ways.
Majority of your collections are produced in France. What is it about the French Savoir-faire that makes it so special?
Our general rule is to produce our garments where the quality is the best. We make some pieces in France, and others in Portugal, and even Poland. We select only the best Italian and French fabrics. We are proud to say that we work with Sfate & Combier, a beautiful silk-supplier from Lyon, for example.
For us, the most important thing is to be transparent about our sourcing and to be able to give our customers the opportunity to trace where each garment came from. From raw materials to their closets.
Atelier Bartavelle is a brand that revels in its collaborative spirit, could you tell us a little bit about your ongoing collaborations?
The strength of Atelier Bartavelle is definitely in its collaborations with different creatives; artists, designers, writers, and even dancers, who come to contribute to our collective DNA and enrich our brand’s history. We get inspiration from our creative friends. Annne Collongues, Charlotte Develter, Inès Mélia, etc. They are our link to a broader approach to fashion; a fashion that is intrinsically linked to the arts.
In today's fashion industry, why do you think sustainability is so important?
Today, it is becoming increasingly more important to change our consumption habits in fashion. Buy less, but for the right price; and with fabrics that can last and are the result of decent handiwork, not in an overcrowded factory somewhere. In this line, we have tried 3D printing to expand our range, but also turn to more ecologically responsible suppliers.
Anything exciting planned for 2017?
Firstly, we have a big project in September, wherein we will introduce our new collection for SS2017, Les Auffes , at the 104 Paris Art Centre. Our presentation will combine the performances of contemporary dancers, artists, and musicians, which simply represents the ethos of our brand. We will also begin selling our winter collaboration with La Redoute (it’s already available online!)
Further down the line, we also have some exciting projects having something to do with 3D printing. We will be collaborating with Pollen, a French start-up, in conjunction with other collaborations, so watch this space!
Words by Hannah Tan
Pictures by Chris Baker