Collaborating for excellence

July 16, 2020

Report during an intermediate fitting. Julien Fournié and Julien Vermeulen are putting their respective know-hows together to produce the “storm dress”: the couturier has imagined a sheath embroidered with feathers of different sizes in a shades of gray and purple. Julien Vermeulen, the young and talented founder of Maison Vermeulen, Parisian feather embroiderer, has worked, colored, cut, ruffled, stitched feathers on a good half of the built dress in silk drape that the Haute Couture atelier had sent him.
Julien Fournié and Julien Vermeulen are now checking on  Michaela Tomanovà the effect and the movement of the feathers before boththeir workshops  will proceed with delicate precision tasks. “We should add darker tones around the waistline” says one, “to accentuate the movement” adds the second. Our Juliens hardly need words to talk. They understand each other with a glance, almost instinctively.
“It is a pleasure to work with Julien Fournié” confides the feather embroiderer. “He trusts me, leaves me the technical part. But never lets anything pass. His projects are always very precise and, even if he knows less about the concrete aspects of the work on feathers, he knows exactly the result he wishes to obtain “.
This is not a first project for our duet. The two accomplices have collaborated since Julien Fournié felt caught up in the ocean of black feathers with which Julien Vermeulen had adorned the walls of the Palais de Tokyo Museum in 2017. 

” Instagram had already introduced  us. I was regularly “liking” photos on Julien Fournié’s account ” says the feather artist “and vice versa “, adds the couturier … “Until I had this visual shock during this exhibition. It turns out that I was already thinking about my “First Crime” collection, inspired by Alfred  Hitchcock’s films.. I askes Julien Vermeulen if he would agree to apply the same technique on a dress entirely covered with black feathers, truncated like blades, as a tribute  “The Birds” by the master of suspense. That look that opened his show, worn by Celina Locks.

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Each season which has followed since, gave them the occasion to collaborate again: let us remember the short bolero inspired by  the vaporous yet spiky cactuses from  the volcanic island of Lanzarote which Julien Fournié had taken for an inspiration with his “First Bliss” collection. 

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A headpiece with a high flight of blue feathers on  top of Nastya Lupey’s silhoette in “First Spell”, a collection and runway show honoring witches of all times as the heralds of feminism.

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What attracted Julien Vermeulen to feathers as a matter, is not so much their lightness, nor their evanescent nature, but rather: “Light. Physically and chemically, The construction of the feather leads this incredible material to react in a most amazing  way to light,’ Vermeulen admits.
“With Julien Vermeulen, feathers no longer exist as such. They become a medium to conjure up slate, powder, glitter”,  Fournié explains. “He has freed himself from all of the somewhat outdated codes associated with feather work. His best point: he is never happy with himself. “

The current challenge for Julien Vermeulen also lies in a more sustainable future: “It is very difficult to seriously trace the origin of the feathers we buy. Supported by  the Bettencourt-Schueler Foundation and the EY Corporate Foundation, Maison Vermeulen is in the process of developing a 100% Made in France sector, to select and control the farms with which they can work in complete trust. We only use feathers which are recycled from the food industry and we have everything we need to do this entirely in France (with peacock, pheasant, ostrich farms). Rather than bringing them from all over the world without being able to control either animal welfare or the working conditions of the farms’ employees, the idea is to repatriate everything from the source and to control it regularly. We should get there by January 2021”.

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Regarding their respective dreams, that of Julien Vermeulen consists: “in maintaining and developing Haute Couture activities. Its function is to create dreams. It’s essential.”
Julien Fournié, meanwhile, plans to … “find investors who understand that investing in a Haute Couture house would make even more sense in an ecosystem that includes French craftsmanship and who, therefore, would consider also invest in Maison Vermeulen ”. 

The two men who recognize each other as creative craftsmen and as business managers in their own companies seem ready to continue their collaboration and to on surprising us each season with their designs and ideas.

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