expertly curated vintage

Display Copy captures the upcycled masterpieces of creative director and design wonder Sebastian A. De Ruffray as he explores his definition of couture and how he creates through deconstruction.

PHOTOGRAPHy_ ANTHONY SEKLAOUI

STYLIST_ ALLY MACRAE

MODEL_ IRIS delcourt (VIVa)

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CORSET TOP_ MADE FROM RECLAIMED, HAND-PUNCHED LEATHER adidas SNEAKERS SEWN WITH COTTON CORD_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 01 / KNITTED DRESS MADE FROM RECYCLED VISCOSE, POLYESTER, AND POLYAMIDE YARN_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 01

My work is strongly based on deconstruction, a concept that has influenced my perception of things. I have a “deconstructed” idea of couture. In contrast to the classical understanding of it, couture for me is more about a particular moment in which a strong feeling is expressed through fashion—when fashion speaks on its own. 

SCARF DRESS_ RECLAIMED VINTAGE SILK SCARVES, SEWN BY HAND_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 03 / GARMENT BAG OUTWEAR_MADE WITH DEADSTOCK PVC_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 03 / VINTAGE SHOES

I’m looking to give an extra value to upcycling and techniques that sometimes go underappreciated. Discarded garments and haute couture are concepts that do not normally go together, but I find that duality very inspiring. I came to the idea of “upcycled couture” as a way to transmit my intention of pushing the boundaries of upcycling to a higher level. It’s not couture from the traditional point of view. 

LEG BELT_ REPURPOSED VINTAGE CAR SEAT BELT_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 03

I think the time has come to re-evaluate the meaning of couture. I believe it is a concept that evolves, and it needs to stay current. Couture is also the most experimental side of fashion, where everything is put into question. Proportions are put into question, materials are put into question. Maybe it’s time to put the word itself into question?  We live in such uncertain times that I think it is more important than ever for people to take risks. Designers should put themselves and the industry in question. I like to believe there are no rules or limits in creation.

KNIT LEOTARD AND LEGGINGS_ MADE FROM REPURPOSED VINTAGE ARAN SWEATERS_ COLLECTION 02_ SEVALI / DUVET COAT_MADE USING OLD MATTRESS FABRIC, SILK LINING, THREAD EMBROIDERED APPLICATIONS_ SEVALI

Most of our pieces are draped in the stand. We almost have no patterns in the atelier. Selected garments are unpicked and placed on the mannequin, pieces are mixed, overlapped. There is a lot of hand stitching, hand dyeing, and hand painting. We either repair embroideries or embellish them with sustainable beads. As we work with vintage clothes, sometimes the material presents color irregularities or stains that are not possible to remove. We embroider on top of these stains, covering them with thread. The techniques are adapted to suit the material.

Shipping label tape top_ Delivery services shipping notes placed on the mannequin and shaped with tape_ Sevali_Collection 03

Our upcycled puffer coats are a very good example. We rescued some abandoned flower-printed mattresses found on the streets of Paris. Even though the original object was not a garment, it shared the same feeling of comfort with our coat. Is fun to see people wearing it and say, "It’s so comfortable I could fall asleep!” In this case the original energy didn’t shift, but it was highlighted and elevated.

Leather belt leg harness_ Made from repurposed vintage leather bags_ Sevali_ Collection 02

Upcycling is directly responding to an urgent need. The fashion industry has reached a critical point. It needs to find more sustainable ways of developing products and managing the incredible amount of waste it produces. Upcycling appeared as an effective option for battling these current challenges. However, it is just one of the constantly growing creative options to do so.

DRESS_ VINTAGE BEDSHEETS DRESS, DETAILS STITCHED BY HAND_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 02 / GLOVES_ MADE FROM REPURPOSED VINTAGE LEATHER JACKETS AND CONSTRUCTION GLOVES_ SEVALI_ COLLECTION 02

I like to think about the industry as a collective — I think it is important to realize the power of collectiveness. The role of the couturier doesn’t differ much from any other member of the fashion system. We should all aim for a more sustainable future, and we all have the responsibility to put things in question, to fight for gender and race equality, and to keep fashion aligned with what is going on in the world. Particularly the couturier and fashion designers should speak through their designs, creating collections with a clear and relevant message. Fashion should be a reflection of society and work for the progress of it.

Coat_ Made from repurposed vintage motorbike jackets, silk lining_ Sevali_ Collection 03_ / Tartan bra and shorts_ Made from upcycled woolen scarves and swarovski crystals_ FW20_ Lou de Bètoly / Vintage shoes

I would say the question is, can anything really be enough? It is important to understand that it will never be enough, but we should all do something nevertheless. Art, through its universal language, has the ability to encourage others to find their own answers and solutions for sustainability. I find that very powerful.

Issue No. 1_ HOLD THE FUTURE