16 Jul Marc Le Bihan: Exquisite, delicate and sensual designs
The work of Marc Le Bihan eludes easy classification. As an artist-craftsman-designer, the French designer, whose Spring/Summer 2017 collection is selling fast at IF Boutique Dubai, is a rigorous conceptualist, a believer in timeless fashion rather than transitory trends. He wins the difficult bet of developing a very personal, deep and dream-like universe, without conforming to the constraints of the commercial mode.
Although his collections don’t portray important differences from one another, including pieces that are repeated or updated, Le Bihan doesn’t consider his work as aiming at creating a collection, but as a complicated process. Beacon pieces of his work, like the “dancer dress” or the “Man Ray suit” come back each season, but always reinvented, allowing each time the rediscovery of the garment.
His work includes and revolves around the “influence of fashion on fashion,” since an important part of his process concerns the deconstruction of vintage garments and the use of vintage fabrics.
Having worked as a weaver at the Manufacture Des Gobelins in Paris, whose ancient history dates back to Louise XIV, Marc Le Bihan has great appreciation for handmade textiles. His approach towards the “vintage” style — a major current fashion trend — is completely different from most vintage-inspired designers. He has great interest in the history of the garment or fabric, creating exquisite, delicate and sensual clothes that hover in space and time. The artisanal production of the garments in the designer’s Parisian workshop guarantees delicate and diligent results, in terms of craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Inspired by equally sophisticated designers, such as Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Martin Margiela, as well as by the twin notion of elements, Le Bihan uses a restricted color palette, mainly of near blacks and almost-whites, exerting frequently fabric dyes. In addition, he incorporates this twin notion in his choice of fabrics, by combining heavy materials, such as rugged leather, with light ones, such as chiffon or light cotton. Finally, this twin notion is portrayed in his creations per se, as his collections are mixed, consisting of fundamentally identical pieces for both sexes, which are modified according to the figures. Through his work, a distinct identity of each sex is portrayed, against the same frame. This coherence that characterizes Le Bihan’s work, renders his designs unique, because of their specific forms, textures and styles, through time.
A rule breaker from the beginning, Le Bihan showcases his men’s and women’s collection together, fundamentally the same, the separation between genders is only one of cut.
Producing skirts for men and women, Le Bihan’s work is not however androgynous, instead it is innately feminine and masculine, reaffirming sexuality rather than blending or blurring it.
Designs are realized in a spectrum of near whites and saturated tones of black, realized through traditional dye methods including dip dying and shibori dye techniques. The graphic colors and tonalities within the collection represent Le Bihan’s polar inspirations of “alpha and omega, swaddling cloth and shroud.”
It was while working as a weaver that Le Bihan developed his taste for handmade craftsmanship, so evident in his collections today.
Entirely manufactured in Paris, much of it at artist’s studios, Le Bihan honors tradition and artisanship through his work. Controlling the quality of production by working locally, it is also his way of connecting to the makers, knowing what conditions they work in, and knowing how much they are paid.
Not interested in commerciality, Le Bihan only works with the most exquisite materials. The longevity of his design approach engenders a base of staple designs that are updated gradually over seasons, rather than entirely reinvented, and as a natural outgrowth of his artisanal approach. Le Bihan focuses on the gradual composition of a wardrobe, rather than seasonal trends, making for a very organic expression of his creative talent.
“I find interest in creating from clothes already heavy with the past,” he explains of his choice of working with materials of vintage provenance. He collects and meticulously deconstructs historical garments, such as an 18th century suit, a frock coat from 1910 and snippets of vintage lace and embroidery, interjecting scraps of their past into the future, through his collection.
“What pleases me is the act of using old pieces,” Le Bihan adds. Taking these stories from the past to make new stories, bringing them into the current and the future with his new designs.
Despite his vintage inspiration and materials, Le Bihan’s work is not rooted in a visual retrospective of a particular time period, but instead pays homage to forgotten stories and pasts not rooted in time or space, but ethereal by nature and timeless.
Le Bihan’s designs are ethereal, delicate and sensual. Complex draping combine through his elegant vision to produce a spare collection with contrasted materials such as leather and chiffon, latex and tulle. His asymmetrical styling is at once quirky and sophisticated. There is a ghostly rebelliousness to his work that simultaneously honors history, material and craft.
JEWELRY: Le Bihan’s Parisian Right Bank store, opened in 2012, sells men’s and women’s wear plus jewelry by Jean-François Mimilla, also available at IF Boutique Dubai.
Mimilla’s jewelry combines fine silver chains intertwined with beads, leather and glass coated in silver foil. Even the boxes the jewelry pieces come in are pieces of art. The black boxes of different sizes are stapled together and often enveloped in the finest tulle or lace and then hand embroidered with beads sequins and pearls. Most pieces are one-of-a kind, making for a very exclusive experience.