Denim may be a wardrobe mainstay, but rarely does a perfect pair of jeans lead to a designer collaboration. Consider the joint project by April77 and Calla Haynes the exception. “I bought a pair of April77 high-waisted jeans about five years ago, and they are still my favorite jeans,” says Haynes, a Paris-based designer with her own label, Calla. “I strive to create a ‘complete wardrobe’ for my client and jeans are definitely an essential part. As April77 was already my favorite brand I decided to contact them and see if they’d be interested in a collaboration.”
For Brice Partouche, designer of April77, it was a serendipitous connection—he’d stumbled on Haynes’ work two years earlier and was impressed enough to say yes—and give her carte blanche. “She is very talented and professional so she came to our first meeting with a precise idea of how the collaboration should look,” Partouche explains. That specific look—the collection includes skinny jeans and denim jackets covered in hazy, nature-based digital prints—also came, according to Haynes, with a specific woman in mind: “Every season I have a kind of creative-type muse, so for this collaboration I created a story about a music journalist at a music festival—I imagined that she was madly in love with a boy in a band.”
That juxtaposition of romance and rock is a perfect encapsulation of these two brands, one feminine, the other edgy. “I like the poetry and the psychedelism emanating from [this] collection,” says Partouche, who adds, “If April77 x Calla was music, it would be something dreamy, noisy, and definitely rock and nonchalant, like My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, or, more recently, Vivian Girls and Tamaryn.” You can see traces of this musically inclined moodiness in the patterns covering each piece; the White Lake print, named after the town neighboring Woodstock, “feels like rocks but also has something painterly and stonewash-like,” Haynes explains, while the Chiba print, inspired by the prefecture in Japan where the annual Summer Sonic music festival is held, was based on “this kind of flowering shrub you find in the French country side…but once the print was finished, I felt that there was something almost like rice mixed with cherry blossoms!” Even the guitar pick that comes with every pair of April77 jeans has traces of Haynes—Partouche engraved “Go Lily!” on each in honor of her dog. “I have a suspicion that Brice only accepted to work with me because he loves me dog!” she jokes.
Regardless of what brought them together, it’s a pairing that shows longevity; already the duo is working on a second April77 x Calla collaboration for winter ’12. In the meantime, you can pick up pieces from the collaboration online or at Opening Ceremony.