PARIS, France — In today’s highly saturated fashion marketplace, there are few designers who recognise the vital importance of doing one thing and doing it very well. Often the idea of creating an immersive visual universe overshadows the end product, a fact that French designer Antonin Tron has tackled since day one with his new collection Atlein, a luxurious women’s line of evening and daywear, crafted exclusively from jersey in partnership with a heritage French maker.
Despite his training at the Antwerp academy and time spent under some of Paris’ top names, Tron’s purist approach to design — one that draws as much from Brutalist architecture as the windswept beauty of the Atlantic coastline — is all his own. The region inspired the label’s abstract name. “On one hand, I am a very urban person, but I very much need nature in my life too,” says Tron. “For me, the Atlantic coast is an important element for the brand. My family has a house there and I love to go surfing there. It’s about the sensuality of being in contact with nature.”
Walking into Tron’s apartment-cum-showroom, its entrance punctuated by a graphic array of Le Vaucour ceramics, his translation of these savage inspirations is unequivocally Parisian (read: elegant to the nth degree), and speaks volumes for his good grooming in the studios of Nicolas Ghesquière, Paul Helbers and Riccardo Tisci. “Nicolas Ghesquière taught me how to push an idea really far, to push it and push it and push it until it becomes really different,” says Tron. “My time under Paul (Helbers) at Louis Vuitton menswear taught me the importance of the relationship with your suppliers. If you want to make a great product, you have to work hand in hand with the factory, which is what I do now.”
That working relationship seems to shine intrinsically throughout Tron’s first designs. His garments hold fast contact with the feminine form — they hug the hips and shoulders with sculptural draping techniques that are both structured from and accented by an architectural use of contrast topstitching. Piped two-tone sweaters are layered with an athletic bustier shape, and button-up polo tops are paired with tucked and paneled miniskirts in rich tones of emerald green, navy, pale coral and sky blue, with highlights of ruby red stitching. It is the cocktail dresses, however, that truly showcase Tron’s mastery of ‘flou’ — their backs fall in asymmetric wings, their skirts kick and split with a coquettish flair.
"For me it is very much the fabric that guides the object,” says Tron, of the premium silk modal, loop-back cotton and technical jerseys that he has employed for his debut Autumn/Winter 2016 range. “I love Jean Muir’s work with jersey in the 70s, it’s always been a little bit under the radar but I always found something very modern in what she did. In a sense it's almost like being a furniture designer. Like Mathieu Mategot, he used the same kind of punched metal over and over again to perfect it. I like that approach. For Atlein I feel like I'm doing the same thing with jersey — trying to maximise the potential of the material.”
It is curious to note the singularity of Tron’s first foray into the market, at odds with the all-encompassing wardrobes at play under the direction of his previous employers Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Balenciaga (where he continues to freelance). “For me, Rick Owens represents the ideal trajectory for my brand,” says Tron. “I have not started this collection to work for two or three seasons and return to work at a grand maison. The idea is to construct something stable, which is why I have started with jersey ready-to-wear, to create a sales network and to softly evolve.” With that said, his distribution network has taken root with serious promise, with major support from Vogue US and external consulting from Riccardo Grassi’s showroom, helping to secure interest from major accounts like Net-A-Porter, Ikram, Bergdorf Goodman and The Line.
For this month’s spotlight, Tron has designed his custom BoF logo that positions a key silhouette from the collection within the ‘O’ — translating his clean, direct approach that allows an authentic, luxurious product to speak for itself. Captured by up-and-coming French photographer Arnaud Lajeunie, the moody image highlights the collection’s expert draping whilst striking a delicate balance of editorial interest and commercial polish. Moving forward, further development of his visual identity will bode well for Atlein’s sophisticated image (a full branding package is in the works, he assures us); as for such organic beginnings (and a fashion pedigree second to none) Tron’s self-funded enterprise holds great potential for expansion and longevity amongst the fray.