STUDIO 404 = (Valencia + Paris) x LA

Insta-wisdom insists that to “make it” in fashion nowadays you better be rich and famous already. A) The rich and famous could succeed in almost anything at any point in history. B) Talent and hard work have not yet been cancelled. C) Case in point: Valencian designer Anaïs Vauxcelles. The winner of the 18th edition of Mercedes Benz Global Talent prize proves that passion and perseverance (and good friends!) can still get you places you’ve never dared dream of. Her brand Studio 404 made waves and headlines at LA Fashion Week in 2021. It was exciting to witness her homecoming at the latest edition of CLEC Fashion Festival as I noted in my Forbes review. This May, I invited the brand to International Fashion Academy in Paris (alongside Yvan Andreu & Visori). As part of my class on Fashion PR, students from the Global Media Management program got to work with unique garments and engage with three designers from Valencia / World Design Capital 2022.

For this opportunity, Anaïs shared a handmade crochet suit: a mini skirt with a buttonless jacket. Class consensus was that we’ve never seen such well-accentuated shoulders in a knitwear piece. Turns out, the designer pioneered some of the techniques used to give her garments their distinct shapes. For example, Studio 404’s signature “Rainbow Bra” is prominently featured on quite a few students’ fashion bucket lists now. Check out the case study report and the designer interview below.

What is your earliest fashion memory?

I had this doll when I was 10 years old. I thought the doll needed new clothes, but I found out you could not buy new clothes for dolls. So… I decided to make her a whole big wardrobe myself! And I still have all the looks. And I still think some of the looks were really great. After my success with the doll… [Laughs] I have been designing clothes for myself and others since I was 14.

What is the role of media and public relations for an emerging brand?

I am in transition between being an emerging and established designer. Communication is key, otherwise no one knows who you are or what you are trying to do. I started on Instagram five years ago. I didn’t think it was that important. I was surprised to get my first 2,000 followers whom I did not know. Then the stylist for Dua Lipa reached out to me and I thought ok, this is important. [Laughs] Then I was shocked to be featured in Vogue Italia. I was like, I read this magazine for years and now they are talking about me. Wow, wow, wow. It was a fluid process and I still go with the flow. Maybe I am lucky, but the audience responds very well to my work.

Does dressing celebrities translate to sales for small(er) brands?

Well, it depends. When I first dressed Dua early in my career, I didn’t know how to communicate that. Now I see that fans of emerging celebs buy things from emerging designers. People go mad about it. It doesn’t happen the same way with huge stars and big brands. 95% of my customers are from the States and 95% of them are from Los Angeles, because everyone is there: music, film, television. I did a successful season at LA Fashion Week and hired an agency because it was prohibitively expensive to ship everything back and forth and deal with customs. Go with the flow.

Why did you decide to create Studio 404 instead of using your name for the brand?

I knew I wanted to work with other artisans and artists, and I didn’t want them to feel disconnected like, I am working for her. In the name of team spirit or community, I chose a different name. I chose a number because it is easier to recognize and remember in any language. I thought it would be funny to use a really known Internet term (404 Error) for a brand that is doing handmade things with a very traditional technique. I wanted to reinvent crochet for the contemporary times, so it was an easy and fun match.

How did you become interested in crochet as a stylistic practice?

My mom was doing crochet tops for me all the time. I did not like some of them, so I had to get involved to get something good. [Laughs] I fell in love with the technique and later felt I could make something truly different. For my first collection I made 3 crochet looks and 3 textile looks. A friend who worked in the industry helped me get some feedback from buyers. They told me my crochet looks were more interesting. I took that advice and explored my capacities in knitwear. They were right. I believe in slow fashion. If you grow too fast, your brand can die from success. If you cannot guarantee quality for all customers every single time, they will be disappointed and get angry. It is better to go slower but get very very very far!

Do you have a muse?

I am obsessed with cinema. I can watch something 100 times. I am serious. When you are super inspired, you cannot help but want to create something. It is never the clothing of the actors, but the whole world of the film, its idea. My last collection was inspired by La Planète Sauvage by René Laloux. It is an animated sci-fi classic with a lot of imaginary beasts and plants and a language no human understands. I tried to merge all that into fashion form. Sometimes it is about specific details. The jacket at IFA Paris was inspired by Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky. I really wanted to recreate a cross-shaped tiles from the background in the opening scene. It took me a month to make it work. I had to do it, undo it, redo it, undo it, redo it. You must be really inspired to do that! [Laughs] Now I am focused on Navajeros, a social drama about a difficult period in Spain after the death of Franco. It will be something very different from Studio 404…

What makes Valencia your place of choice to live and work?

Valencia is full of really cool creative people. I have a great relationship with my peers, and it is easy to work together, to support each other. Everyone is doing great things here. I feel inspired and comfortable here, and that is a great combination. But listen, social media allows you to live and work wherever you want. You just need to communicate your talent well. If your city or village inspires you, that’s the thing

Follow Anaïs Vauxcelles and Studio 404 and @IFAParis

Check out interviews with Yvan Andreu and Visori

If you liked this, encourage me to do more: Buy Me a Coffee or join Patreon

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