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A conversation with… Clementine, creative director of FYU PARIS

Clementine & Valentin ~ 1994

“Should we sit here, in the sun ?” It's a Tuesday afternoon in the mid July warmth and we are sitting down with Clementine Fenton-Yon to learn about FYU PARIS and the latest ‘Summer Memories’ capsule collection.

Clementine is the creative director of FYU PARIS, and largely drives the brand’s aesthetic.  When asked to define the label, she settles on two adjectives: Creative and Inclusive, with much of her inspiration drawn from the arts.“I always keep an eye out for artists, music, anything that inspires us really - because I like to think that we are developing all the time.” This summer capsule is no exception, with pieces inspired by the tender and quirky memories of Clem’s childhood.

When asked about the ideal muse to embody FYU PARIS, she quotes the man of a thousand faces : I want FYU PARIS to represent unapologetic freedom and inclusivity, so I immediately thought of David Bowie, and then I thought about Harry Styles because I love the way that he channels his creativity.”

As a non-gendered label, inclusivity helps comprise the blueprint of FYU Paris. It takes clothing back to its initial function: to dress, however adds.The critical nuance of dressing for oneself instead of according to others’ expectations : “When I was 3 years old, we had our class photo taken at playschool. My mum had chosen what she wanted me to wear, it was my brother’s hand-me-down tracksuit with a plaid shirt with a peter pan collar, red and blue, and I didn't want to wear it, I really didn’t want to wear it, I had already chosen out a dress I wanted to wear. She refused and I was furious, absolutely furious”.

This collection provided the perfect opportunity to recall that childhood spirit, where inventiveness and passion were at  the center of everything. “I was quite a solitary child, so I had to make my own fun. I was probably happiest when I was making something with my hands."

Clem had an eye for upcycling and repurposing garments from a young age : “I love vintage fashion. I’ve always done it, long before it was cool or celebrated, I would buy stuff from charity shops with my sister and alter them with my sewing machine.”Naturally, this skill transferred easily when FYU Paris was born.“Part of FYU Paris’s debut collection featured a handful of one-off vintage pieces to sit alongside the main line. Curated by our incredible stylist, Sarah Lespagnol, each one reflected the individuality of the brand and sold out very quickly."

The Summer Memories collection dives back into Clem’s treasured childhood memories, plus those of Valentin, Clem’s other half and Co-founder of the other half of the brand.“We looked back at photos of us as kids and thought, “wow, there’s so much freedom and fun in the way we used to dress as kids!”

The name of each garment pays homage to a personal anecdote or memory.The Fresco shirt for example, echoes back to a shirt bought hastily by Clementine’s father one summer in Italy, whilst the color of the Trampoline shirt is inspired by cream teas in Clementine’s grandparents garden in England.

Of equal significance is the origin and traceability of the materials and fabrics.“We try to only use fabrics that we absolutely love. I want to be excited by it, like a “coup de coeur''. That’s also why we asked Margaux [Dereume] to create the CRABBING print. It’s really a beautiful eccentricity.”

She added : “Since we launched we’re gradually trying to produce more and more things in France, providing another means by which to be both physically and emotionally closer to the people who create FYU PARIS’ clothes.This sustainable production model wasn’t designed to surf the ‘Made in France’ wave, but to essentially affirm FYU PARIS’ values.”

And the future for FYU PARIS? Clementine would like to “design some prints, tell stories about people, and tell stories about culture. I would like FYU Paris to become a safe space for people to express themselves however they want to express themselves.”Crucially, Clem sees fashion as an underrated form of art, the methods and messaging of which have been skewed along the way.“I think fashion gets lost in a sea of bad press, such as ‘fast fashion’ or the other negative tropes that exist. But fashion can be completely inspirational… I think it can change lives.”


FYU PARIS’ capsule ‘Summer Memories’ is now available to shop online at www.fyu.paris.

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