Last month I was fortunate to be a guest of Vicomte A. at the Polo by the Sea here on the Gold Coast, Australia. It was such a fun day and gave me the opportunity to learn more about the brand. It has been a great connection between The Man Has Style and Vicomte A. A great mix of quality in design, a lust for life and not getting too serious that we miss the beauty of living! I wanted to know even more about the man who started it, Arthur de Soultrait, so asked him some questions about the brand, his inspirations and background.
TMHS: Thank you Arthur for being part of The Man Has Style. It was such a pleasure when I was introduced to Vicomte A. as it embodies so much that inspired me to start TMHS. You started VICOMTE A. when you were 22 years old. Did you have a big vision for the brand at this time?
AS: Firstly, I want to thank you for having me here. I’m very happy to answer your questions! You must know I fell into the world of fashion quite by chance. I was undertaking work experience during my third year at a Parisian business school. Shortly after my arrival in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company I worked for went bankrupt. Meaning I lost both my job and accommodation, as well as my means of getting home. As a solution I embarked on a mission to raise enough capital to return home by walking door to door in a wealthy part of town selling my personal collection of ties. Luckily, they sold very fast. This really motivated me.
Back in France, whilst still a student, I secured the contract in 2005 designing and supplying silk ties to the French delegation representing the Paris bid to host the 2012 Olympics Games. The stock of several thousand sold out in a flash and left me with sufficient funds to start “Vicomte A.”
For me my interest in fashion has always been part of an idea of a lifestyle rather than just an obsession with image or clothes. From a young age visiting events with my parents I was captivated by the different codes of dress and the easy timeless elegance these outfits embodied, from morning coats at the races to tweeds and brogues on relaxed country weekends.
TMHS: Your collections are exceptional in both design and quality of the garments themselves. Having worked with different areas of design and production for the past 15 years, I was really impressed with the detailing and fabrics used. It felt like extra thought had gone into the design in both function and visual appeal to make each piece have a reason to make it superior to others you see on the market. How important are the fine details to you in the overall collection?
AS: Thanks for pointing that out. Our brand values quality more than anything, and it’s always a pleasure to see that people notice it. Details are incredibly important. Whenever we start developing a collection, we study all the facets of the world and style we are looking at that season.
This includes vintage clothing, art, films, and any other meaningful symbols.
By then twisting these, and integrating them into our modern silhouettes, whether it is in a color scheme, a fastening or a pocket shape. This is how we give value to our product, and an authentic but fresh nature that our customers appreciate.
TMHS: How important is color to you with VICOMTE A.?
AS: My heritage has a strong influence on the style of the brand and in fact the bold colors of the original collections were directly taken from the jockey kits I had observed going to the races with my parents (who are horse breeders in Burgundy) and my brothers and sister as a child.
Using bold high contrast colors has become a defining factor in the VICOMTE A style and is evident in all our product ranges, from swimwear all the way to suiting.
TMHS: The VICOMTE A. campaigns are brilliant! I love how fun they are and yet still have a strong fashion element. How do you feel the campaigns represent VICOMTE A.?
AS: We have been very lucky to work with Fred&Farid Agency for the last three seasons, to develop the core concept of the brand, which is what I call the “prepster” style. Basically it involves a mix of the hipster look and the preppy look. We wanted to make our brand colorful, and we’ve been hugely happy with the results. We have done a lot of work to move VICOMTE A. forward to become a full lifestyle brand and the campaigns have been key in changing these perceptions.
We try to cast models who challenge our customers first idea of the brand and we’ve been working with Francis Villalva, Anders Lindstrom and Jake Hold to name a few. SS14 was a lot of fun, where we had live monkeys, lions, snakes and more all in the studio. The shoots always seem to get a little wild.
TMHS: I loved the recent video on YouTube you posted, ‘Soirée Punk Safari’ which looked amazing. Tell me more of this.
AS: Every year we do a party at the same time as my birthday, but also to celebrate the birth of the brand, since we were both born in April. We try to think of a fun theme that usually relates to our recent collection. This year was Punk Safari, as the collection of SS14 was safari themed, and we had a lot of fun twisting around with vibrant zebra wallpapers, Punk mohawks, African dancers and neon tags.
All the team is involved and everyone attends. It’s a great opportunity to thank everyone for the hard work they perform during the year, as well as gaining us some great exposure for the brand. In the 2012 party, we were pleased to welcome Pippa Middleton at our party “Le Roi est mort, Vive le Vicomte !”, which made it quite successful.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL8qCMGoifY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]
TMHS: Where was the first VICOMTE A. retail store in France? The first outside France? What do you look for when scouting for new locations?
AS: The first in France was VICOMTE A. Saint Germain des Près, 40 rue du Dragon. Abroard it was VICOMTE A. Palm Beach, Florida (USA) in 2007. Like these 2 addresses, we want our shops to be in the centre of each city, the best area, the best street. We are looking for the best location for our customers.
TMHS: The VICOMTE A. brand is accompanied with the locations Paris and Palm Beach. Tell me more about this.
AS: Palm Beach and Paris were our first two locations. My young brother happened to be in Palm Beach when I launched the brand, as a rider in Wellington (Palm Beach, USA), so he was on the spot to help opening the shop. For me, as well as being somewhat coincidental, it seemed a nice encapsulation of the brands outlook and the easy, colorful preppy but distinctly French approach to dressing.
TMHS. Where did the inspiration to bring VICOMTE A. to Australia come from?
AS: We had the chance to meet Axel & Fred, two very motivated French importers, who were looking for the French brand and they got in touch with us. Plus, I’ve never been to Australia, and I can’t wait to see the country! France and Australia are not too far, we should see each other more often.
TMHS: VICOMTE A. recently sponsored the Polo by the Sea here on the Gold Coast, Australia. How important is partnering with polo to you and what are some of the other polo events you are involved with around the world?
AS: VICOMTE A. is involved in sports in general (horse riding, jumping, golf, sailing) and indeed, polo events are part of the lifestyle we are. Sponsoring the Polo by the Sea on the Gold Coast was the first for a very strong visibility for the brand, as we are just starting in this country.
VICOMTE A. is the official sponsor of Polo Club St Tropez (France); Polo Club of Gstaad (Switzerland), and every season we sponsor Polo events in London (GCC Cup with the Queen Elizabeth), in Berlin and in Geneva.
TMHS: Three things you can’t do without in your day?
AS: First, there is my combo Iphone & Blackberry, which I always have on hand, quick on the draw! And then there is my Twizy (electric Renault car), of course, and my dog Frip.
TMHS: What’s next for Vicomte A.?
AS: Hopefully our first shop in Australia!
See more of Vicomte A. online
Vicomte A. – www.vicomte-a.com
Vicomte A. on Instagram – @vicomteaofficial
Vicomte A. in Australia – www.vicomte-a.com.au
Vicomte A. Australia on Instagram – @vicomteaaustralia
Words by Sarah Crawford, Editor, The Man Has Style
Follow The Man Has Style on Instagram: @themanhasstyle
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