Endless Summers: Alex Israel talks Vilebrequin

Vilebrequin Alex Israel

Vilebrequin Alex Israel.This summer, beach-bound dwellers from Cannes to Los Angeles can pack a healthy does of Pop Art colour and prints into their knapsacks and wicker baskets, as Alex Israel collaborates with French swimwear brand Vilebrequin. Fred Prysquel established Vilebrequin in 1971, designing collections that captured the bon vivant spirit of his hometown Saint Tropez in vibrant fabrics. The designer himself had been a successful photographer and car journalist; more than four decades after setting up his brand, Prysquel appears to have found a kindred spirit in Alex Israel, another creative maverick and entrepreneur. Primarily known for his airbrushed renditions of Californian skies and scenes, Los Angeles born Isreal also works as a writer, director of films and designer.

Vilebrequin Alex Israel

‘The collaboration came about over Instagram, when I was contacted by Vilebrequin via direct message and asked if I would be interested in designing a swim shorts pattern’, says Israel, remembering the first stages of the collection, which will be available from March 2017. Creating his first pair of swimming shorts, Prysquel took inspiration from surfers’ sportswear donned in California, seen best in Bruce Brown’s genre-defining 1966 documentary ‘The Endless Summer’. Israel’s first souvenirs of Vilebrequin also came courtesy of the big screen. “I was editing my teen surf movie, SPF 18 at the time, and remembered that we had dressed one of the film’s young actors in Vilebrequin shorts for a few scenes. So Vilebrequin had already become a part of my vocabulary, and that made it feel natural and organic for me to become a part of the brand.’

Vilebrequin Alex Israel places the 34 years old artist’s colourful repeating prints on three Vilebrequin shorts, from the classic mid-length Moorea to the updated Jim and Jam fits, all available for father and son. ‘ The question I asked myself wasn’t: “How do I do something different with these trunks?” It was: “How do I do something that feels right at home on them?”’, says Israel. ‘ I used a wave graphic–one that I had originally drawn in homage to Hokusai and Ken Price, for an animated dream sequence in the movie–as the basis for my pattern, a wavy grid of colorful waves, repeated endlessly. The collaboration marks my first with a brand, other than my own, and takes my ongoing exploration of Los Angeles’ Endless Summer culture full circle. I wanted to work within the Vilebrequin idiom of joyous color and whimsical pattern. A wave design I had drawn—and used as a key element in my forthcoming teen surf movie SPF-18—felt like the perfect starting point’.

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Vilebrequin Alex Israel