By Siobhan Reid
Aug 13, 2021
IT’S BEEN HALF A CENTURY since automobile journalist Fred Prysquel donned a pair of provocative swim trunks in St.-Tropez while attempting to woo the woman of his dreams. Back in 1971, Prysquel’s knee-grazing shorts of his own design were unlike anything the Côte d’Azur had ever seen. They combined the easy movement of California board shorts with the bright patterns and traditional waxed fabrics he had spotted on a trip to Senegal.
Clockwise from top left: courtesy of Vilebrequin Archives; courtesy of Vilebrequin Archives/Fred Prysquel (2)
The boldness paid off. Prysquel got the girl, a local shop owner named Yvette, whom he later married. But he (and Yvette) also changed the course of bathing-suit history by launching the swimwear brand Vilebrequin based on the success of that first pair of trunks. It’s a story the company’s current CEO, Roland Herlory, relishes telling. “Our origin is all about love,” he says.
To celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, Herlory and his team created 50 collector’s- edition trunks. Some are revivals of old prints, while others are modern interpretations of archival styles. There are psychedelic flower patterns from the 70s, graphic motifs from the 80s, and an electric-blue pair emblazoned with sea turtles from the aughts.
Clockwise from top left: Cédric Viollet/courtesy of Vilebrequin; Chao Cui/courtesy of Vilebrequin (3); Cédric Viollet/courtesy of Vilebrequin. Background photo by Massimo Vitali/courtesy of Vilebrequin.
Vilebrequin has also doubled down on its commitment to responsible fashion: by 2022, 80 percent of its garments will be made from recycled fishing nets, plastic water bottles, and other discarded materials. “Because we have a long history, we have strong roots,” Herlory says. “Those roots allow us to dream big.”