A small storefront hidden on a narrow street behind the Palais Royale, the On Aura Tout Vu atelier is easy to find only because there are two people smoking in front of it. I am welcomed inside and offered a seat in the alabaster-coloured showroom, from where I can see racks of dresses packed in plastic, and millions of bejewelled…everything. From perfume bottles to headphones to a curious electronic rabbit called la bastague, OATV has put their couture touch on just about everything.
OATV: It was very busy, but it was interesting! It was the first Georgia Fashion Week, so we had to see everything. We were one of two French houses who showed, and we ended up going to 30 presentations. We are so tired! Our flight left at 4 am this morning, so excuse me while I go pour some coffee…
Livia and Yassen of On Aura Tout Vu, in their Paris Atelier, Photo by April Hall
AH: Describe the OATV woman.
OATV: Any woman with a strong personality; someone who wants something unique and doesn’t care about the label. She doesn’t care that it’s not Dior or YSL, she just wants a special piece she can wear.
AH: Do you have a definitive client base? Is there a certain lifestyle or client you design for?
OATV: We are never thinking of selling any piece. We just design what we want, and if a client want to change a detail such as embroidery, print, or color, we will do that for them. We know designers who think, “ oh I must design to sell”, and they cannot change to please the client. They become commercial and keep designing what they believe will sell. We like to keep our artistic vision intact.
AH: Is there any specific person or place that serves as a constant muse for your work?
OATV: No, just everything. Each person, the cinema, music, a strong personality – all of it can be inspiring. The street, travel, even coffee…or [hot] chocolate at Angelina*!
AH: Do you have favourite materials that you work with?
OATV (Livia): I love crystal, and lace, and chinchilla. I also love mink; there is this special cut we did once where we used only the longest part of the fur. It was so soft you couldn't believe it.
OATV (Yassen): All. It depends on what we are doing and what kind of mood I’m in.
AH: Is there a favourite piece that you have designed?
OATV (Livia): We made wood lace once. It was literally lace made from wood, and from a distance you couldn’t understand that it was wood.
AH: Where are those pieces now?
OATV: There is a museum of lace in Calais, France, one of the dresses is there.
OATV (Yassen): Maybe one of my favourite’s was our first show. We used globes of the world and it was about how the world should go global. We were thinking about the “Globetrotters” and how the world is big and small at the same time.
AH: Most of your work is really unexpected. In your opinion, what is the most surprising idea you have had?
OATV: One time we had a fashion show with balloons. There were balloons everywhere, we filled the entire room with 13,000 balloons. We had it so that when the girls [models] would take something off, the balloons would raise it up. The girl would take off a jacket and it would float up to the ceiling.
AH: How has the experience been of collaborating with some big names in style and electronics?
OATV: It has been very fun. I enjoyed our collaboration with Swatch, and we made a dress entirely covered in watches. Each watch was set on a different time zone of the world. It was very time-consuming, but quite fun.
AH: How long does something, like a Swatch dress, take to produce?
OATV: If we have a deadline, it takes two people about one week to do. All of our embroidery is hand done – it takes a very long time.
Detail of Lace and Chiffon beaded dress, Spring 2010 Haute Couture
AH: I hear that you worked on a car once? How did you do that?
OATV: It was a joint project with Lalique. It was a jewellery Smart car; we covered it with Lalique crystals on the metal and made the inside lace and crystal as well. It was auctioned for charity at Christie’s in London and someone from Monaco bought it. We talked to their driver once and he said that whenever they drive it in the street, everyone stops and stares.
AH: Is there any specific person you would love to dress or accessorize one day?
OATV: Honestly, it’s not about the person. When we see a woman with a big personality we want to dress her. Already we have dressed princesses and important people, but it doesn’t matter. If we don’t have a good feeling, then we won’t dress her.
AH: Any hints as to ideas you are working on right now?
OATV: Well, we might go to Mexico, and we’re thinking about a new perfume project. Also, we will send a letter to Tim Burton. We feel that OATV and Tim Burton seems already a good match, so we are very interested in working with him.
Necklace by On Aura Tout Vu, photo by April Hall
On Aura Tout Vu is based in Paris and available in boutiques and fine retailers around the world. For information, visit their website http://www.onauratoutvu.com/.Post Script: Angelina is a French restaurant that is renowned for its signature thick and rich Chocolat a l’Ancienne hot chocolate.