News & Scoops

2011 August 8

From The Daily Dan! Vilebrequin-ology

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(NEW YORK) A lot can happen on a summer day in Saint-Tropez. That was the case in 1971, when motor enthusiast Fred Pryskel dined al fresco at the Riviera’s people-watching hot spot, the Café Sénéquier. Inspired by nearby surfers and a lingering buzz from a recent Brigitte Bardot spotting, the Speedo-sporting Frenchman cut up his checkered tablecloth and fashioned it into a modern-day beach trouser. Today, Pryskel’s swimwear is known as Vilebrequin, a luxe line pour homme loved by every denizen on Cooper’s Beach—and beyond!

First, a moment avec Vilebrequin artistic director Isabel “Zaza” de Brito.

When did you start working for Vilebrequin?
Around 15 years ago.

What were you doing before?
After my fine art studies in Marseille, I began working for a company that created collections of fabrics for men, women, and children. There I learned the craft and developed my own style. Vilebrequin was one of our clients.

How has the brand grown since your arrival?
At that time, the brand didn’t have an integrated styling department—it was looking to forge its identity and develop its creativity. Approached by Vilebrequin, I joined the brand to create a specific style department in Saint-Tropez for which I had full responsibility.

How many prints do you make each year?
I draw between 30 and 40.

Do you have any plans to make swimwear for women?
Not for the moment...

Who is the Vilebrequin client?
Someone who, by wearing our swimsuits, dreams with style.

How has the client developed over the years?
We have been dressing both father and son for more than 40 years. Today, we are dressing that son…who is now a father himself. Our heritage is passed on through generations.

How do you explain the universal appeal of the brand?
I don’t explain it—I see it.

And now, a look at l'histoire Vilebrequin!

1971: Vilebrequin was established inSaint-Tropez by Fred Pryskel. The moniker means “crankshaft” in English. [Yes, Fred was indeed a motor enthusiast.] Say it with us, “veal-bro-ca(n).”

1995: The popular “Like Father, Like Son” campaign propelled a line of matchy swim trunks called Jim and Jam for juniors, ages 2-12.

1996: The first stand-alone boutique opened its doors in Saint-Tropez.2007: Fashion Fund One, a Dutch private equity fund, acquired Vilebrequin.

2011: To fête their 40th anniversary, the Vilebrequin squad has teamed with brand ambassador Fabien Cousteau (Jacques Cousteau’s grandson) for the Plant a Fish foundation to reintroduce endangered sea turtles, the brand’s chosen motif, back into the wild. 

THE CELEB AFICIONADOS: Devotees include Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Hugh Grant, Robert De Niro, the King of Angola and…Mark Consuelos.

MAKING A SPLASH: The brand is sold in 51 countries and 70 stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, select luxury outposts, and Vilebrequin boutiques.

SO MUCH TO LOVE: Vilebrequin boasts three distinct collections—Saint-Tropez, brimming with bold solids; Classic, peppered with colorful prints from toucans to festive fauna, and Collection, chock-full of limited-edition suits created in French ateliers and marked with a silver-tipped drawstring.

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