London boutique Browns has always kept ahead of the curve, thanks to its founder Mrs. B, whose unwavering eye for fresh talent remains unparalleled. For fall 2010, the venerable arbiter of style has a new recruit: Belgian-born designer Anthony Vaccarello, who shot to prominence in 2006 when he won the Grand Prize at that year’s Hyères festival. Vaccarello’s sculptural collection, designed for “a woman who wears her femininity as armor” and stocked exclusively at Browns, mixes textures in a black palette, combining elements of art deco with futurism (Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic
Metropolis is cited as an influence). We caught up with the designer to discuss his love of dichotomies such as strong yet fragile women—like Lou Doillon—and days filled with sun and rain. How did you become interested in fashion?
It was more a fascination that I developed with women's bodies in the early 90's. My mother collected photos, and I was surrounded by a lot of Helmut Newton pictures. In hindsight I think that awoke my interest in fashion. Lou Doillon stars in your current lookbook. How did you meet her?
I met Lou through Laetitia Crahay, a Parisian It-girl and Chanel’s accessories director. She had organized a dinner where I met and fell in love with Lou. Lou knew my work, and we immediately talked about doing something together. She represents modernity for me—strong, mysterious, vénéneuse
[venomous]… but so sweet, elegant and intelligent. When I put clothes on her it all becomes very natural, like she has always worn them. That's why I wanted her to be very natural in the photo shoot [for the lookbook]—no make-up and no hairstyling. Who are your other style icons?
I love women who are strong and fragile at the same time. Lou is definitely the best style icon for me, but I love also Laetitia Crahay for her sense of mixing sexy and funny—she's always right. I like women with a dark look, but not the gothic ones! Are there any designers or artists that you particularly admire?
I love Alaïa, Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester.What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Every day is a highlight. When I won the Hyères first prize in 2006 with Ann Demeulemeester presiding over the jury; when I worked at Fendi and met Karl [Lagerfeld]; when I decided to launch a collection during the [financial] crisis and saw all the best shops around the world buying it; when I met my boyfriend 7 years ago; when I met Lou.What would make your perfect day?
Sun and rain at the same time. What’s your favorite thing to do in London?
Visiting Susie Bubble
(my best friend and the first English person who believed in my work) is always great. I really love London because for me it is the perfect mix between my two home cities—it has the coolness of Brussels combined with the chic effortlessness of Paris. Any summer holiday plans?
I plan to drive up the West Coast of the US with my boyfriend and Susie [Bubble]—we want to make a road movie.