The Vendée Globe yacht race has brought Paris to the sleepy French port of Les Sables d'Olonne, in the Vendée region of France, in the Pays de la Loire. The Parisian males are definitely making their mark. 'La barbe' - the beard, is everywhere. Slim males with bum fluff beards, tight bottoms and tight-bottomed, slim cut, brightly coloured 'Vicomte A.' trousers are striding confidently and nonchalantly, around the heaving port, as the people of the Vendée visit and support a yacht race with the same passion they would a football match. Finally, there is a place in the world where many people get how 'amazeballs' it is to race non-stop, solo around the world.
This is the biggest sponsorship the 7 years young clothing brand 'Vicomte A.' have embarked upon in their short, but impressionable, history. But according to founder, creator, and 'landlubber' Vicomte Arthur de Soultrait, it was an obvious choice for them because it is the biggest sailing occasion in France and will dominate the news and TV for the next three months.
The organisers of the Vendée Globe yacht race are keen to 'internationalise' this intrepid yacht race, billed as the 'Everest of the seas' and bring some colour and glamour to the pontoons. Boutique business 'Vicomte A.' add a subtle, but interesting accoutrement, to the existing partnerships that sponsor the race.
"Our main competitors are Ralph Lauren's 'Tommy' and Lacoste. We are sportswear chic, a brand for all, it's not a luxury brand" said Arthur de Soultrait.
The brand takes traditional values, straight cuts, hardwearing fabrics and then adds a modern infusion of bright, strong colours but with a bold confidence, perhaps even arrogance, of the 'ancien regime'. The combination brings ready to wear clothes for both the rural and urban dwellers everywhere, which is classy yet classless. For me, they are a French 'Burberry meets Vivienne Westwood' and have an energy which is lacking in traditional country clothing.
I am very anti-tweed; it's reminiscent of insular closed world where the clock has stopped. But the aristocrat, Arthur de Soutrait has opened it up and splashed it with punk brightness, a combination which makes tweed more appealing.
"You can take a tweed, add pink and purple and it brings a twist in the tweed" said the shy, considered, slightly jaded from partying hard at the Tatler Party in London the night before, Arthur de Soultrait.
The brand values of 'Vicomte A.' are synonymous with a time where the old and the new merge into one. In Britain we have experienced this juxtaposition in the marriage of HRH Prince William to the commoner Kate Middleton, which has created a brand that appeals to all; the old country meets the new country and creates something vibrant and insatiable.
The brand just recently opened a shop on the Kings Road, London, but Vicomte Arthur has plans. "We want to be more British and I would love to open a shop in Bath, Oxford and maybe Edinburgh."
'Vicomte A.' is a brand that says we are young, we are old, we are bold and French. Old meets new, with a youthful energy and arrogance that is boutique chic and unique.