A French couturier, an American university and a museum nestled in the medieval village of Lacoste in the heart of the Luberon. Here are the ingredients of the exhibition Julien Fournié: Haute Couture. And that’s all!, organized by the American University of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Until August 15, 2023, its museum, the SCAD Fash, hosts 19 dresses presenting the craftsmanship that earned Julien Fournié the haute couture label.
Winner of the Grands Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris in 2010, Julien Fournié launched his brand in 2009. Ihe has been on the official calendar of the Haute Couture and Fashion Federation, as a guest member since 2011, and under the haute couture label since 2017. Co-founder of FashionLAB with Dassault Systèmes, he is a pioneer of the metaverse aiming to equip fashion with the digital tools of the future.
Lacoste, a village of artists
The medieval village of Lacoste is known for its castle built in the 11th century and which was the property of the Marquis de Sade who stayed there in the 1770s. In 2001, the designer Pierre Cardin acquired this castle, then partially in ruins, and installed followed by a festival in the neighboring quarries, before buying around thirty buildings and shops in the village.
In Lacoste, art occupies an important place: the Breton surrealists, Ernst and Char, stayed there and in the 1970s, the American artist Bernard Pfriem settled there.after buying a house in ruins for 70 dollars” explains Cédric Maros, director of SCAD Lacoste: “he goes create the Lacoste School of the arts (from 1971 to the end of the 1990s)”. At the end of his life, he gave his school to the Savannah College of Art and Design with the commitment for the SCAD to keep an academic program devoted to the arts. This study program – abroad and in France – offers an immersion in the history and culture of Provence. Over the years, this university private, located in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, “To bought and refurbished houses (now 70) to expand his campus” emphasize again Cedric Maros.
This season, 120 students, present until the beginning of June, follow programs of animation, art, painting and illustration, among others. Two former students – artists Hannah Polskinfont and Kay Wolfersperger who are part of the SCAD Alumni workshop – have joined the village. For Kay Wolfersperger, his installation in the village, even for a short period, constitutes “an opportunity rrefreshing and inspiring to be here in Provence“.
If at the beginning the teaching of the SCAD is oriented towards the Fine Arts (painting, sculpture, engraving, photography), it also applies to the applied arts (design, textiles, illustration…). It was therefore natural for the SCAD Fash museum to host this exhibition dedicated to fashion. Julien Fournie. Haute Couture One Point That’s All! is, in addition, a opportunity for American students on the Lacoste campus to see haute couture up close.
“Julien Fournié is one of the greatest masters of French fashion today and truly embodies the ideals and savoir-faire of haute couture in his work” explains Rafael Gomes, before adding “He is also a pioneer in his approach to new technologies and represents a real source of inspiration for our students”. The exhibition director of SCAD Fash has therefore chosen the couturier’s most iconic garments for this exhibition.
“It is a real honor to enter a museum during its lifetime and I am delighted to share with the public the magic of my textile constructions in a more intimate light than on the catwalks”declared Julien Fournié emphasizing “each couture piece was made in our Parisian workshop and we are proud of the masterful needlework used to create each of them… This exhibition on French soil allows us to share the essential values of high couture and to highlight the know-how of the best craftsmen in the world who have accompanied me for 14 years”.
Fabric marquetry, Indian embroideries
“A fashion house lives only in the workshops. The conductor is me, but alone, I will do absolutely nothing. You draw but you don’t make your collection at your office, you’re in your workshop on the realization. That’s haute couture!” insists Julien Fournié. VShe collections would not exist without the know-how “from the plumassier Julien Vermeulen, the art glassmaker Adrian Colin, the Indian embroiderers Shanagar, without the insane leather fabrics from Hermès precious leathers, without those from Sfate and Combier (from the Lyon silky tradition). I succeeded to create a kind of network, an eco-responsible ecosystem around me” he adds again before showing us the models on display.
In the halls of SCAD Fash, 19 dresses show the know-how of its haute couture workshops. On the first floor, the summer collections reflect “my blossom side. I’m super dark in winter. In summer, I come to life again, it smells of colors and lightness. I really wanted to show these shades of colors, these false grays, these false taupes, these false blues azure…” explains Julien Fournié “these are hours of embroidery, incredible leather marquetry, jacquards…” he explains before stopping in front of a dress from the Spring/Summer 2021 Première Tempête collection: “I present it to show the skill of my workshops. There are 162 pieces of fabric that create a fresco representing thunder through the clouds”. This dress is a marquetry of muslin and silk organza declined in gradations of cloud colors.
The couturier then invites us to admire the wedding dress from his Premier Soleil spring-summer 2023 collection: “I would like to point out that all the embroideries were made by Indian embroiderers from the Shanagar workshop, who for decades have lived only for embroidery”. VSThis wedding dress includes a bustier sheath with overskirt and train, the tulle petticoat of which is embroidered with motifs placed in the form of 18th century ribbon bows in 3D and with sunray motifs in a gradient of metallic threads. “I drew the pattern for this dress on the Ipad and my Indian friends – people listening who are trying to take you even further – have offered me to tie the three-D knots, threading wicks inside to add relief” he explains before adding “Finally, it almost looks like boutis. I am an aficionado of this ancestral technique from Provence”.
Before leaving this room to go to the upper floor, the couturier recalls that these dresses were made with an obsessive respect for eco-responsibility: “There is very little waste because we make exact patterns. We only order the right fabrics. In general, we only take an extra meter in case of trouble”.
Pen work with Julien Vermeulen and glass work with Adrian Colin
On the second floor, the atmosphere is darker: “when I work in winter, I get overtaken by a darker side” explains the couturier who also insists on the wearability of his dresses: “you can live with it! With the workshops, we thought about giving them plausible structures with our times: yes to haute couture, yes to vintage nods, yes to ancestral manufacturing but no longer with the same materials or the same techniques”. He then shows us a bustier which at first glance seems very corseted, but the part at the back of the dress is made with jersey so that the woman can breathe because today “Women don’t want to be coerced anymore!”.
A little further, he stops in front of a dress made with black feathers, telling us “You know I love Alfred Hitchcock! Here is a model, a nod to the movie The Birds and its heroine Tippi Hedren”. This dress, very 50s, kimono sleeves, is dressed in goose feathers dyed and lacquered by the plumassier Julien Vermeulen who worked them like a marquetry. “The feathers are not embroidered but glued upside down. What is very beautiful in this dress is the movement and the noise it makes when you walk like a bird taking flight. It’s glamorous” he said, shaking it slightly so that we could hear its clink.
He also shows us another model that is close to his heart: it was made with the Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the glassmaker Adrian Colin. The Black Mermaid is a model from the Première Créatures fall-winter 2022-23 collection: it is composed on the head of a tentacle tiara in blown glass and crystal, translucent and black; embroidered with coordinated faceted beads, to wear with an octopus harness necklace in blown glass and crystal and a skirt in deep black dipped lambskin marquetry. Gorgeous.
Like some museums and theaters that combine different forms of art, Julien Fournié wanted this exhibition to also be an olfactory experience to transport visitors into an immersive experience. Thus in each room is diffused a specific smell. An initiative in line with an ongoing project: developing perfumes with Robertet
Exhibition “Julien Fournié: Haute Couture. Un Point C’est Tout!” until August 15, 2023. SCAD Fash. St. Trophime Street. 84480 Lacoste. Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. FREE ENTRANCE.