Tuesday 1 August 2017

Icosae's Urbane and Avant-Garde French Revolution

Brothers in arms, French designers Valentin and Florentin Glemarec. Portrait by Shoji Fuji. Cover picture and all other photographs by Elli Ioannou

We look at the rise of Icosae, an urbane yet avant-garde French label created by two young Parisian brothers, Valentin and Florentin Glémarec. The designers studied painting at the École du Louvre  and art informs all of their work. The spring 2018 collection offered a new vision of menswear at Paris fashion week, one that combines both the creative and conceptual, writes Antonio Visconti. Photographs of the SS18 collection by Elli Ioannou

Riveted studs and checked trousers
spell out Icosae in numbers
SINCE Icosae's launch three years ago, Valentin and Florentin Glémarec's collections have offered an exhilarating and seamless blend of urbane high fashion, sportswear and outstanding tailoring with a memorably sleek silhouette. The collections' fabrics and prints are created each season with original paintings by the designers. Parisian-born, the Glémarec brothers, may only be twenty-one and twenty-two years old but they have already made a name for their label. Independently funded, Icosae's sophisticated and sharp tailoring combined with a strong creative and cohesive vision has meant the label has a growing roster of clients including Paris' Le Printemps, New York concept store ODD and Barney's in Tokyo and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong.

Valentin and Florentin studied Fine Arts at the prestigious École du Louvre before going on to study graphic design in Paris at the École nationale supérieure des arts appliqués et des métiers (ENSAAMA decorative arts academy) and fashion design at the Atelier Chardon Savard school. Apart from their background in art, the designers say their great-grandfather, who was a tailor in Britain, is an important influence on their work. Tailoring is key to their designs, especially well-defined shoulders and structured shapes, their signature back cut and serial numbers on the jacket's lapels.

The suited yet relaxed vibe of the collection
was inspired by summer evenings in LA 
When the Glémarecs established the fashion label in 2014, they chose the name 'Icosae' that originates from the French word for the icosahedron, a twenty-faced geometric figure. They decided their collections would be produced in France and Belgium, as the designers want to use highly-skilled European ateliers. Their latest collection for SS18 was shown under the dramatic lighting of the famous Faust nightclub, located below the Pont Alexandre III in Paris and the collection was on the official Paris Fashion Week's schedule. Entitled the 'The world has music for those who listen', the range was full of Nouvelle Vague tailoring with a contemporary edge.

The collection was inspired by warm, glimmering Los Angeles nights with friends getting ready to go out at sunset. The designers wanted a relaxing theme that would suit a summer evening in LA when the skies are turning pink, a colour that runs as a leitmotif through the collection, the starry night reflected in glittering embroidery. Amid the beautifully-cut jackets were stone-washed jeans, unstructured bomber jackets, sweatshirts with spliced shoulders and prints from what Valentin Glémarecs describes as their "season Muse painting" on silk and wool coats. The jackets, both long and short, have details including rivets and an embroidery of a literal Heartbreaker motif. The designers referred to William Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" for the Le Fou, L'Amant and Le Poète found on sweatshirts.
Long jackets with embroidery, studs and
numbers on the lapel
The duo wanted to work on all aspects of the suit, as they believe it is one of the most difficult garments to make, as they take their inspiration mainly from tailoring. They even created a "constructed" parka, which is a sportswear piece but remade in a tailored style. Denim was used as a whole look, both raw or acid-washed with a focus on pink silk shirts and short jackets.

The word “Icosae” translated into numerology is used in the check-print of the suits, the collars and even make-up of the models. The brand detailing was included on the clothing, some with 2500 rivets, but the branding is almost invisible unless you are looking for it. The designers don't want Icosae in huge letters on the clothing, only where you can find it in the details.

The recurring serial numbers 82.141.814 ~  meaning Icosae ~ are hidden in the tartan pattern for the tailored jackets and even on the models’ faces. Valentin Glémarec says each collection they like to explore different techniques, this time using laser cutting, acid printing and mixing handcrafted elements like bullion wire embroidery and branded rivets.

Every season the brothers agree on a painting that will be the print of the season. This decidedly artistic side of the label, influenced by the Valentin and Florentin Glémarec's study of art at the Louvre, gives Icosae's collections that rare combination of desirable creativity along with wearable designs.

Tap on photographs for full-screen slide show
Tailored jackets with the special Icosae print and pastel pink jeans shown at the Spring 2018 collection in Paris were inspired by warm, summer nights in Los Angeles

Pale pink ran as a theme through the collection reflecting the inspiration of LA's sunset on summer evenings and starry skies recalled by the Louboutin glittering boots
A riveted, furry vest in mahogany added a dash of punk disruption to the sleek collection  
Acid-washed denim made a comeback with strong colours, studs and cut-offs combined with a shoulder-spliced black and white-striped leather jacket
Sequined gold boots gave the SS18 collection a rock star glamour that lifted the dark, long jackets

Silken white bomber jacket with checked trousers specially designed by the brothers

Beautifully cut long jackets with this season's signature print
Embroidered details on Icosae's collection of jackets
Dark denim rules with red stitching with a symbolic hearts and stars t-shirt and pearl pendant
The lunatic, the lover and the poet printed on a sweatshirt with spliced sleeves at the Icosae show at Paris' Faust nightclub


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