Zadig & Voltaire puts on a leather-filled fiery show
A large advertising campaign displayed at the entrance to Parisian metros in digital format aimed to make it a high-profile fashion event scheduled to be held at the end of January. Using the image of a flaming Versailles fountain, Zadig&Voltaire announced its Fall/Winter 2023 show will be held on January 27, the day after the closing day of haute couture and once again outside the official fashion week calendar.
The fountain that took pride of place in the centre of the octagonal room of the artistic incubator Poush on Friday evening welcomed French celebrities and actors, international buyers, many of whom came from Asia, and journalists. The venue, which opened in 2020, is located in Aubervillers on the former grounds of the L.T. Piver perfume factory, a supplier to Louis XVI's court.
Rather than floral scents, the ambiance at Z&V was more like paraffin. During the show, the water in the installation burst into flames, eliciting a gasp from the audience and raising the temperature up a notch. Cecilia Brönström, head of design for the French brand founded by Thierry Gillier, was not inspired by the Ancien Régime.
Instead, the designer imagined the new queens and kings of Fall/Winter 2023 with a first look that set the tone: a determined woman wearing a carefully crafted quilted biker jacket and flowing bi-material trousers took a walk around the fiery fountain. Stilettos and rhinestone earrings affirmed her sensuality.
"The inspiration for this show came from two images: a red leather vintage car seat and a female biker wearing a jacket and trousers, but I also wanted to bring some femininity into this universe with softer approaches," explained the designer at the end of the show. "I was inspired by the night, with lots of black and rhinestones and our new moonwalk bag in the shape of a half moon. At night, everyone wants to be their true selves. The biker woman still exists but can wear vinyl trousers with a hyper-structured jumper or a super-sheer lingerie dress."
While a few knits, branded with a large V, a ZV 97 or Peace and Love, appeared in this collection, as did jean jackets embellished with rhinestones and lightweight neon leopard print dresses, leather was indeed omnipresent. The materials ranged from quilted jackets and trousers in navy, cream and black to a red vinyl skirt that matched a bag of the same colour.
"I had previously designed a crumpled leather material that became iconic for the brand. I wanted to recreate the texture of a man's shirt that was wrinkled after being worn overnight. We applied this to shirts, dresses and jackets, but I also brought in vinyl leathers and lambskin to the collection. I like to create pieces that can actually be worn on the streets by men and women," said Brönström.
The unisex collection featured matching sensual dark brown crumpled leather looks for both him and her. The bikers wore heavy black boots, either with a jacket, with VOLTAIRE embossed on the chest, with trousers paired with a black perforated jumper, or with leggings worn under miniskirts or light dresses.
The brand clearly wants to go full throttle in this area. "It's a niche that works very well for us and has great potential," said Rémy Baume, CEO of the brand, who was all smiles at the end of the event. "This fashion show has shown what we are capable of doing in this area. And the expertise of Jordan Henrion (the brand's communications and image director) in making it a very special moment was exceptional."
The show received a lot of media attention and, for the brand that claims to have recorded double-digit growth in 2022, also generated its own controversy. An artist based in Berlin contacted the press to clarify that the concept of the burning fountain was taken from one of his works created in 2019. The similarities were uncanny. "I expected this to be an issue, but it is not," eluded the CEO. "A number of artists have interpreted this theme, which can also be found in the fireworks shows at Versailles, for example. For us, there's no issue."
The other key objective for the Zadig & Voltaire design team was to highlight its range of accessories with its shoes, but especially its bags. The brand's new Moonwalk bag was thus presented in many colours, accessorised with different buckles, rhinestones or details, as well as different materials. The Cecilia bag, renamed Obsession, is now made of a more supple leather than before. To escape on the road, the bikers also carried a 48-hour leather bag. Many leather goods were presented throughout the collection, which was understandable, since the group is aiming for sales of 550 million euros in 2025, half of which would come from its accessories. A mini version of the Moonwalk bag was even worn in the show's closing look. Could this new piece become the brand's future best seller?
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