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On Aura Tout Vu

Sep 05, 12 On Aura Tout Vu

This July the Haute couture fashion house “On Aura Tout Vu” celebrated its tenth anniversary. Ten years of the history of two Bulgarian designers, Livia S. Stoyanova and Yassena Samujlova, who arrived in Paris in the early nineties, and managed to conquer the high fashion Olympus.

In the multitude of brands, the House “On Aura Tout Vu” is certainly distinguished by its extravagance but also and especially by the joy of living. A bright and colorful vision of our lives. They give us a smile, creating a light, festive mood.

In their collections there is place for everything. From a sophisticated couture dress, an USB flash drive pendant dressed in fur and covered with Swarovski crystals.. Not to mention colorful stiletto boots, headphones sparkling with rhinestones, evening bags, decorated with mother of pearl, essence and cards cases and, of course, brooches in a form of insects.

Their world is full of fantasy, diluted with a good dose of humor and a philosophical approach to life. Such rare birds, Yassen and Livia, meet me in their showroom, somewhere between the Louvre and the Opera. By the way, about the birds: right near the entrance of the showroom hangs a huge cage with a singing reed canary.

But here are our heroes: sociable and dynamic Livia and reserved, a little cynical, Yassen. Such different temperaments perfectly illustrate the brand’s slogan: Angel or Demon? But they share one thing: unrestrained, almost childlike imagination. Combined with an exquisite taste and soft Slavic accent…

So how did your beautiful story begin?

Livia: We arrived in Paris in the early nineties. Yassen and I are both from Sofia, where we have had, as it later turned out, a lot of mutual friends. But we met in Paris. Yassen and Andre – our co-founder of a Portuguese origin – already knew each other. All three of us were students. I studied at the School of Fine Arts, specializing in lithography. Yassen had a Bulgarian toys stylist diploma. Andre was studying for a jeweler – in just such different worlds we rotated. Everyone came to Paris with their dreams.

(Our conversation is interrupted by a deafening chirping of the canary, which, according to Livia, begins to “sing” as soon as it hears someone talk. For the rest of our interview – and it just started – we will try to outcry our singer.)

So we met with Yassenom and Andre in 1994. Yassen and Andre have already had their business, and I worked in a gallery. We started to work together and in 1998 came up with the idea to create our own brand.

And why such a strange name: “On Aura Tout Vu”?

Livia: First we would like to be called “Après la Pluie” (“After the Rain”), as it was for us a symbol of a good time, which comes after the rain. It was a positive sign, and we stuck to this name for ourselves.

Meanwhile, the other, hard to translate French expression: “On Aura Tout Vu!” (“More is coming!” or a roughly equivalent English “That takes the cake!”), became used more and more by our designers – and gradually replaced the “Après la pluie.”

Foreigners love native French expression of this kind. Moreover, many strange and unexpected things happened to us, and we were increasingly saying: “Wow! On Aura Tout Vu!” This has become our favorite saying, and we finally decided to take that name. This phrase was perfect for our concept and, as well as possible, consistent with our style. Our French Friends tried to dissuade us, saying that even our own names are not easy to pronounce! But we did, nevertheless, take this name, because it is a direct expression of our interest in everything new, unknown, our craving for discoveries! Maybe there is no need to try to translate it?

At first, the “On Aura Tout Vu” was more of a “House of Dreams”, rather than a “Fashion House.” We all took different jobs but specializing in accessories with the first collection presented in 2000. But at that time we didn’t yet have an opportunity to do Couture. We chose self-financing for your business and worked for famous houses such as Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, John Galliano …

Yassen: Work in these brands taught us a lot: in particular, the technique of production and business management.

And what is more difficult: to create a model or run a business?

Yassen: To manage an enterprise, that’s for sure. In 2002, On Aura Tout Vu presented their first collection of haute couture.

What memories do you have from your first fashion show?

Yassen: The great memories! Everyone cried.

Livia: It was unforgettable! We “broke in” the haute couture with no special education or experience in this area. When our press officer started talking about the show casting, I was paralyzed by the thought that we would need to choose fashion models!

Very often, when you find yourself in an unfamiliar area, some funny situations happen.

Livia: Absolutely! Here we had something comical happened while preparing for the show. We chose to present the collection in an art gallery, a courtesy of our friends. And everything was going fine, until the producer called and told us that we have no right to do show in the gallery, because of its lack of an emergency exit, which was and still is a requirement of the police prefecture.

But we quickly found a way out: a call to friends, who came with an electric saw and cut out an extra door for us! It was funny and touching at the same time to watch our friends becoming, with surprising enthusiasm, porters, then tailors, finishing everything that was not ready. Even our accountant – he helped us with the decorations. Our entire team, all our friends treated us with a deep understanding. That was the most touching!

More touching than the appearance on the podium after the show?

Livia: When you step on the podium after the show, you are in such a state of a fatigue that you don’t think about anything! Preparing for the show – it is work of the whole team, not just designers. That is why we prefer to go to the podium accompanied by the entire team, which now has 15 members.

They say you do not like to be interviewed, in a sense, “hiding” behind the brand and thereby avoid talking about yourself. What it is: modesty? Collectivism?

Livia: When you start to work in a tandem, you forget about your own “I”. And you do not speak for yourself, but on behalf of the brand. Modesty? Let’s be realistic! We are just designers. Designers and nothing more. Neither geniuses nor revolutionaries that can the world upside down.

Star fever is not always the fault of the designer. The fashion industry is doing everything possible to make him look like a star, a celebrity … Our clothes are sold not because we are known but because customers like our style.

What are the roles in your tandem?

Yassen: As such we do not have a separation of the roles: we do everything together. From each according to his abilities. All decisions are made jointly.

You have such different temperaments. Does it happen that you quarrel with each other?

Yassen: Of course, it does! When this happens, it may take a while, but in the end we always manage to set things right.

And how do you do that?

Yassen: By the method of persuasion. This is the only right way to go.

Where did you get this love for crystals and sequins, and in general, everything that glitters?

Yassen: In my opinion, it is in our culture.

Livia: I agree that this is our, Slavic! Same as our positive attitude. Crystals reflect light, and the light is a joy!

What are your sources of inspiration?

Yassen: Everything! The events of politics, culture and all that happens to us and around us.

How did Lady Gaga get to know your brand?

Yassen: Like everyone else, from the press. Her stylist came to our showroom and chose items that are most appropriate to the singer’s taste.

And then, I guess she come to you for a fitting?

Yassen: Not at all. Lady Gaga goes without fittings. Either the items are delivered to her hotel or straight to the States.

What do you feel when you dress a world celebrity?

Yassen: Nothing, absolutely! I feel the same pleasure dressing any other client that chose our house. The fame of Lady Gaga has definitely a positive impact on the reputation of our brand, but we had never fought of creating a model exclusively for her!

You are known far beyond the borders of France and your items are sold in many countries of the world. But not in Bulgaria, that is strange.

Yassen: The fact is that the Eastern European market is quite specific. You need to be there to follow it. And then, the customs duties are way too high. Russian customers, for example, prefer to make purchases today in Italy, as customs agreements between France and Russia are not profitable.

What do you think about today’s fashion? Renaissance? Decadence?

Yassen: In today’s fashion, there are two poles. On one side – young designers, among which there are many talented but, alas, not “hyped” personalities. And on the other – big brands fed by international holdings, where it is often not about the creativity and a search for a style, but rather about the business and investments.

And which brands do your wear apart from yours?

Yassen: Any! H & M, why not? Indeed, jeans are always jeans and T-shirt is a T-shirt! It may just happen that we “retouch” the clothes bought in other brands according to the style of “On Aura Tout Vu.”

Which of your creations are you particularly proud of?

Yassen and Livia: Of course, of our house “On Aura Tout Vu”!

Photo credits: MSW

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