Coco Brun, the Paris-based printwear designer and graphic artist best known for her exhuberant prints and collection of luxurious silk scarves, “Forget Me Not,” has over the years created imagery for a wide range of retail brands and publications, including Vogue, ELLE, Nylon, Spur, and Muse. With inspirations ranging from books, to the visual landscapes of Paris and London, to Pinterest, her work features bold graphic effects that often incorporate restraint and minimalim. More recently, she has created imaginative prints for Seilenna, a luxurious and superbly designed swimwear line with beautiful seasonal prints and patterns. NYC Monthly was honored to speak with her recently…
How did your relationship with Seilenna and its founder, Annelies, begin?
My friendship with Annelies began 10 years ago in London. We had already worked together, but this is our first collaboration and I am very glad to realize this project with one of my friends. Two years ago we were merely discussing it, and now it is happening!
When starting the designs for a new collection, what’s your first step? Can you walk us through your creative process?
I first do some research – I usually draw more elements as I progress into the composition, and the final result is never predictable and always different. I always use a mix of techniques and am constantly trying to experiment and merge classic techniques like pencil, watercolor, pastels or Indian ink with digital processes. The final montage is done in Photoshop. I really feel like this kind of hybrid work offers me an opening into a world of possibilities. I use a printing technique that is very close to inkjet. This is the best way to get the most details and infinite color variations. The prints are colorful. This is the first time I’ve printed on swim fabric and we have all the prints made in Italy (Como) with the best printer. I am really happy with the results.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
The library, firstly, is a place where I usually go – I love Forney library in Paris. The book selection is amazing and the place is just beautiful. Unfortunately, you need to have a card to go there so it is not possible to visit, which is a shame – I also use Pinterest, which became an enormous source of inspiration for me. I have all of my boards on it, and I really do get a lot of inspiration there and from Tumblr as well. They both help me to organize information and allow me to see the trends a little bit – it’s truly a blend of images.
Are there certain color schemes or design elements that you find yourself drawn to more than others? Why do you feel more connected to those?
I use the elements of nature a lot because I think that nature is something mysterious that needs to be protected. It’s truly magical because it’s wild.
What would you say are some of the biggest trends in swimwear for the 2015 season? Does that impact your design?
I think that the swimwear in 2015 will still be a one-piece swimsuit and more accessories on the beach, like a turban. We work with a small atelier in France and we are a team of two people, which makes decisions about colors, sizes, and textiles easier. I think the most important thing is to create something we like, and regarding swimwear the fit is really important. Luckily, with Annelies it is really easy to communicate. She also has an amazing sense of the detail, which is really important to me. Everything is based on details. She is also not afraid to try different colors than the classic ones, and the feedback is really interesting so far.
What elements do you look for in your own beach style?
I usually wear African boubou and caftan with a lot of prints that I mix with accessories. It stays easy wearing but the accessories add the missing fashion touch!
What’s your go to cover-up choice for a day at the beach?
The kaftan is just perfect – I wear it all the time. It’s really comfortable. Hopefully I create one for the collection with cacatoes prints.
You also design your own line of scarves; can you elaborate more on that for us and how the swimwear process differs?
For the swimwear, I have worked with all different industries, many new people and many different crafts that were very interesting to discover. It is even more interesting to work on new designs, new projects, and even to reflect on how you can print on other mediums. I also make pareo for the Seilenna lines…
What are three ways that you would style one of your scarves for a summer look in The Hamptons?
Easy – first as a turban, second as a pareo dress, and third as sarong pants.
You’ve gone from scarves to swimwear; do you have any ideas of what you want your next foray to be?
We already have the scarves and pareo in the Seilenna collection – the prints are super big on a large fabric. I am really interested in working on different sizes. Actually, for the swimwear collection, I’ve preferred to work with small elements, small illustrations. For the beachwear and pareo collection, I have chosen to work with bigger elements. The approach is particularly intriguing when you have to deal with the same prints but in different sizes – I love it! Also, the new item of the season will be cute peep-toe shoes with wooden soles and leather printed. They will be handmade in Italy, and I am very excited to see the result of my drawings printed on leather.