Fred Prysquel, the founder of Vilebrequin, was fearless and full of imagination when he came to impressing a beautiful woman he saw in St-Tropez during the summer of 1971.
It was neither the time nor the place to be cautious, and Prysquel, a car racing journalist and adventurer at heart, felt that nothing was impossible. Armed with a pair of scissors and a faint idea of how to make clothes, he set about creating a bathing suit that would set him apart from his competitors onthe beach. His starting point was the many textiles he had collected during his trips all over the world, especially the strikingly colorful, patterned fabrics he had found in Africa.
On the French Riviera—that sunny, festive coastline uniting France and Italy—short, skinny trunks were in fashion at the time. But Prysquel’s were more special, not just because of the eye-catching motifs, but because his cut was inspired by the board shorts American surfers wore at the time. The look was comfortable and cool, and the results were immediate. The girl of his dreams fell for him, and all the guys on the beach suddenly wanted to look like him. And so, ensconced in the terrace of a café on the port, inspired by the rock songs of the time, and encouraged by Brigitte Bardot’s smile, Prysquel went to work creating swimsuits. First he made one or two, then ten, suddenly a hundred.
Soon, a few seamstresses were brought in to lend a helping hand, and before he knew it Prysquel was opening a boutique. All he needed was a name, so he went back to his initial passion: cars. In French, a vilebrequin is the part of the engine that ensures the transmission of power generated by combustion in the cylinders. It’s a technical word, but it sounds great. And so Vilebrequin, the swimwear brand, was born—literally out of love.
This love story gave way, later on, to Vilebrequin’s idea of designing for fathers and sons and, eventually, mothers and daughters. More than forty years later, the house has grown considerably but has stayed true to its origins. Vilebrequin is all about the sea, vacations, and pleasure.