The name of the fashion label Coperni is a tribute to Nicolaus Copernicus, the astronomer who formulated the heliocentric theory in the early 16th century. And the passion for science and technology of its founders, the French Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer, is not just a tool for marketing. His most famous design, the Swipe Bag, is inspired by the slider icon that the iPhone uses to unlock the screen. And the most viral image of him, that of a dress constructed with spray on the body of Bella Hadid on the Parisian catwalk last September, is an ode to the creative power of technology. “When it comes to tackling technology, there are two positions,” explains Vaillant. “There are people who are afraid of her, and people who adore her. We adore her. It doesn’t bother me that my phone listens to me and proposes ads to me. That seems fine to me. Technology fascinates us, and it can improve the world if used well. It’s very stimulating to watch her.”
Coperni lives a particularly sweet moment. “It is the first time that I have the feeling of being truly proud of the path we have traveled, and of where we have come to”, boasts Vaillant. He is not without reasons. Their collections are sold in multi-brand stores around the world –in Spain they have a presence in Wow and Ekseption (Madrid), Santa Eulalia (Barcelona) and NYC (Ibiza)–, their clients include such unquestionable names as Dua Lipa, and some of their products, such as her cross-cut garments and her high-heeled shoes with transversal zippers on the instep are emblems in their own right of the revival nineties and the first two thousand that fascinates the new fashion buyers.
But its history, beyond its viral moments, is a long-distance race that began in 2013, when Vaillant and Meyer began to take their first steps in fashion. “At that time Arnaud was working at Balenciaga, so we did Coperni at night,” Meyer notes. “At first, our idea was to make beautiful clothes for our friends. It was more or less like that. We had a friend who came home in the afternoons and we tried all her designs on her. She told us if she liked it or not, if she wanted it shorter or longer. Then we asked him for some photos, and everything started to grow organically.”
In 2017 Meyer and Vaillant were commissioned to revitalize Courrèges, one of the most iconic Parisian fashion houses of the 1960s and 1970s. Coperni stayed in standby, but the experience helped them sharpen their nails in the complexity of the industry. “We learned a lot of things in Courrèges, which was a much bigger company, with a hundred people. It was a very formative experience at different levels, and an interesting exercise, because we were working with the legacy of the brand”, explains Vaillant. “When you are a young designer, it is difficult to understand how the industry works, the shows, the accounts, the production minimums, the commissions, the communication”, adds Meyer.
When, at the end of 2018, they decided to reactivate their firm, they did so with a greater background and with a much more precise knowledge of the sector. Also with more defined ideas. “We wanted to make a brand that breathed the air of our time, easy to carry and desirable, without forgetting the techno chic that characterizes us”, affirms Vaillant. “In our time, young creators were very exuberant, but they didn’t do easy things. And we liked the idea of being a young firm that you could go to to buy a suit jacket or pants, without forgetting our identity. In that we complement each other well. Arnaud is more realistic and Cartesian, and I am more creative. We have found a balance point.” Vaillant agrees. “For us clothing has always been important. And not only because of the portability of the garments, but also because of the price. We work very hard to make and keep prices that are realistic, allowing young people to take ownership of the clothes.”
His passion for technology translates into technical perfectionism. “We spent a lot of time in the workshop. Each one has a way of working, and ours is very rigorous. We don’t just send a sketch to the factory. We make models, 3D designs, we send it to the factory, we receive it, and there are always modifications, or we change our minds. It is our process. It takes a long time,” Meyer explains. “And it is expensive,” adds Vaillant. This year, for example, they have presented a limited edition of their Swipe bag in a single piece of hand-blown glass in New York with the collaboration of the Home in Heven firm.
But not everything is geometric rigor. The uniform and science fiction aesthetic, almost futuristic, that characterized the first Coperni has given way, in the latest collections, to more fluid and organic garments, which play to show off the body but also to propose good quality basics with a turn. For example, t-shirts with screen prints or sweatshirts whose hoods incorporate little horns.
These garments, as well as part of their accessories –belts, sunglasses and, of course, bags– have managed to transcend the female clientele that their brand was initially aimed at. “Since the first season there has always been at least one man in our shows,” Meyer explains. “For us, it was something natural, nothing official. Let’s go little by little, with t-shirts or accessories. But for the moment we do it for fun, because it is a very different world, with other buyers, other times. At the moment it is a bit basic, but we want to give ourselves time to move forward. We are making more and more things for men and if we continue like this, at some point there will be a commercial development.
The designer gives an example. “When friends of ours wear our clothes, they appreciate the simplicity of the product, and also the small details that make it different. And then there are curious cases. One day we were at a party and we saw a colleague who works at the streetwear, nothing to do with luxury or women’s fashion, and she had put on our cotton skirt. It didn’t look girly at all, it was a great performance, and I loved it because if you give yourself enough time to get it right, these kinds of accidents happen. The fundamental thing is the dialogue with our community”.
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