Founder Fred Prysquel found the original inspiration for Vilebrequin swimwear in L.A. surfers’ trunks. The collaboration with Alex Israel is very much a continuation of looking at West Coast and surf culture, as exemplified in Bruce Brown’s classic surf documentary: The Endless Summer (1966). This iconic film tells the story of two surfers traveling the world in search of the perfect wave. The film’s poster, designed by John Van Hamersveld, shows three figures on the beach, bathed in the idealized fluorescent glow of the sun that would later become a constant motif in Israel’s work.
In addition to Israel’s numerous connections to L.A. beach culture, his collaboration with Vilebrequin was similarly born out of inspiration from one of his current projects. As the artist explains: “In my new teen surf film SPF-18, a main character has a dream in which he’s surfing on a perfect wave. The dream sequence is animated, and in sketching the wave I drew inspiration from the work of both Hokusai and Ken Price. Ultimately, as an extension of the film, it felt natural and logical to design an actual swimsuit–a pair of shorts that could be covered in a pattern of perfect waves”.
From the light and colors of the L.A. sky, to the eccentric culture of the people who walk beneath it, these swim shorts become yet another Hollywood prop within Alex Israel’s universe. His shorts for Vilebrequin are a logical extension of his artistic vocabulary. They are to be worn against the backdrop of golden summer sunlight, with a pair of sunglasses.
Curator, Artistic Director
*Alex Israel Bio: Artist Alex Israel (b. 1982) is a leading figure of the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. His work explores the Californian influences that have also shaped and inspired the Vilebrequin brand. The universe reflected through Israel’s lens is an ecosystem in which each element in the artist’s growing vocabulary may reappear, be recycled, remixed, or completely transformed. A West Coast Warhol of the 21st century, Israel is a prolific creative in the broadest sense of the term: writer, filmmaker, entrepreneur and artist. His work engages with contemporary culture and media to create an ideal environment for consumption, sharing and liking in this, our social media era.
After shooting Rough Winds, a 10-episode web-series showcasing iconic young characters born out of today’s televisually-driven myth of L.A.—in a spirit reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis—Israel created and hosted the talk show AS IT LAYS. In this show, both underground and world-famous characters overlapped and intertwined against Israel’s sunset hued backdrops, while answering disparate and incongruous questions that both glorified and challenged the interview model’s power in the digital age.
As Alfred Hitchcock’s profile became as famous as the director himself, Israel’s cult Self-Portrait (also his ‘profile’ pic) has become an icon in its own right. The graphic image is complemented by the sunglasses Israel wears, culled from his own brand: Freeway Eyewear. In Israel’s world and work everything constantly reappears, just like this self-portrait, the official logo for AS IT LAYS, and the sunglasses – that evolved into a series of oversized lens sculptures, framing and reflecting upon the colorful prism of the entertainment industry. Israel’s lenses reference the work of Larry Bell and other Los Angeles-based artists of the 60s within the pop cultural framework of the American (Hollywood) dream.
For more than 40 years, Vilebrequin has created stylish swim trunks with vibrant and colorful patterns in styles ranging from the company’s iconic MOOREA (mid-thigh length) to the contemporary board short style. Present in 52 countries with over 150 stores, the brand is a reference in the universe of luxury swimwear. Today, the brand continues to set the standard in swimwear and is a favorite among celebrities, athletes, world leaders, royalty and influencers.