Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer
Photo by Gorka Postigo Breedveld

Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer: “We want to give people an experience”

Short Profile

Name: Arnaud Vallaint
Place of birth: Paris, France
Occupation: Entrepreneur, co-founder of Coperni

Name: Sébastien Meyer
Place of birth: Paris, France
Occupation: Fashion designer, co-founder of Coperni

Arnaud and Sébastien, how would you describe the philosophy behind your luxury brand, Coperni?

Arnaud Vaillant: Techno-chic, digital, fun, futuristic, innovative, Parisian... It’s everything we love.

Sébastien Meyer: We love this idea of making a bridge between technology and something more elegant, more tailored, something feminine with a Parisian quality. Timeless. But it's a challenge to make the two concepts merge, because people are often afraid about technology. But we love it. So we try to put in some little details to make technology more approachable, more fun, more positive.

And you’re not concerned or afraid of what technology might mean for the fashion world?

AV: Well, we are pretty optimistic. We’re confident in technology, you know, we believe that AI is going to be interesting for the fashion world, we believe in technology helping humans, we believe in technology improving the world — but we don't believe in technology for technology’s sake. For example, we’ve been asked so many times to bring Coperni into the metaverse, and we always take our distance from that, because we’re questioning how is this going to improve the world? How is it going to make things better? And so far, it doesn’t look like it’s going to do that.

SM: Our thinking is that we’re trying to use technology and trends to find solutions rather than just using technology for no reason. Our drive-in fashion show is the perfect example of that. During the pandemic, we weren’t allowed to do a fashion show because of the Covid regulations, and people said to us, “You have to do a beautiful, futuristic video instead.” We were like, “No way, we don’t want to do a video. It's boring.” We really wanted to gather people all together, so we had this idea of taking cars, putting a journalist inside the car and going to an arena to make a show where the models would walk around the cars. We love to create a link with what’s happening in the world in that way.

Is that usually where you take your inspiration from?

AV: Actually, for our last show, the inspiration came from the location. We discovered this space called Ircam in Paris which was so unique, it’s a research institute for music and sound set up in 1969 by the avant-garde composer Pierre Boulez. It has these amazing sound-insulating mobile walls. Nobody had ever done a show there. We loved how glam and futuristic it was, so we decided to dedicate this collection to that, it was a tribute to music. So there is always a reason behind what we’re doing.

These were big moments for your label — you’re quickly becoming known for those kinds of forward-thinking experiences, like the highly-lauded spray-on dress worn by Bella Hadid for Spring 2023. Has that recognition also resulted in more pressure or higher expectations for you, creatively?

AV: We try to avoid pressure as much as possible. We're not out here saving lives, and we are aware of that.

SM: It's true that we did a few shows the last few years, like the one you mentioned with Bella Hadid, that were very successful. But now it's not a question of pressure exactly because pressure is something negative… It’s more that we want to give the audience something very qualitative, something very strong. We want to give people an experience, something different, something new and that’s a challenge for us every season.

AV: It’s more like opportunity, and we’re really excited about that. Some journalists are saying things like, “Oh, you’re just dying to create buzz.” But it’s really not about that for us. It happens very naturally, and our approach is honest.

“We want to give the audience something very qualitative. We want to give people an experience, something different, something new, and that’s a challenge for us every season.”

It goes back to what you were saying about technology; you can’t be innovating and experimenting just for the sake of it. It still has to be wearable, accessible, and beautiful, no?

AV: Right, if you do something futuristic, it still has to be desirable. Wearability has always been one of the key aspects of Coperni, it’s something that really believe in. We want to see our designs on a woman at a party, a woman at work, you know, we want to make the woman feel cool and comfortable and confident, but we don’t want to make her feel like she’s in a costume. We work really hard to make it like this: a new shape, a new silhouette, but still wearable.

SM: Affordability is also important for us. Everything is so expensive these days, you know, if I get a t-shirt now at Balenciaga, it’s a thousand dollars. Guys, are you serious? It’s a cotton t-shirt, it’s not worth that price. I think subconsciously, we were sort of disappointed that we were not able to buy products in the luxury world. So when we started, we wanted to make clothes that we could buy. We try to make things affordable, but with quality.

AV: And that’s not easy! We are always discussing, “What would you pay for this?” We try to work around that, if we have a hoodie that we’d like to price at $250, we have to weigh the options: is it something that is unique to the market, where maybe we can push it to $290? Or is it better to keep it affordable at $250. It’s a whole process to try and find those solutions.

And that realist approach I think is what makes brands stand the test of time, too.

SM: Absolutely. I think that we have a lot of dreams that we're trying to achieve in terms of innovation and doing something new, but that takes time and money, so we have to be patient.

AV: And in the meantime, what we are the most excited about is exactly what you mentioned. What we’ve been doing for the past five years — we want to keep doing it for the next five years, and the next. Our goal is to keep doing amazing collections, fashion shows, accessories… There are so many things to think about, so for now, I think that our goal for the future is simply to last.