PARIS — Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud are thinking in circles these days. The former artistic directors of Carven are launching Amca Oval, a sustainable brand that will span ready-to-wear and home wares, marking their first venture into interiors.
The name refers to their combined initials and the Space Age aesthetic of the 1970s, while the oval shape is a recurring motif in their collections, symbolizing both circularity and community.
Debuting on Tuesday with a capsule line of colorful 3D-knit ribbed sweaters made from deadstock viscose, the brand’s e-shop will offer limited-edition products on a monthly basis, alternating between knitwear, accessories and one-of-a-kind rugs and cushions, some handmade by Martial himself.
“We see this as a 360-degree project,” Martial told WWD at the duo’s design studio in Paris, where his tufted creations adorn walls and chairs. “We don’t want to limit ourselves to just one thing, but to try our hand at everything we like.”
The designers develop their clothing collections with factories in France and Italy, using leftover materials to create items including quilted knit outerwear, ribbed bodysuits, striped jacquard midi skirts and Lurex knit camisoles with an oval-shaped cutout at the midriff. Prices for the unisex line, which comes in a single size, range from 240 euros for a top to 800 euros for a parka.
“Given that we use dormant stocks, we have access to threads of incredible quality. French factories that usually work for luxury brands have agreed to collaborate with us, because I think they also want to work on projects that excite them,” said Caillaudaud.
The pair met at the Atelier Chardon Savard fashion school in Paris, and both went on to work at Givenchy. Martial joined the French luxury brand in 2007 as a knitwear designer on the ready-to-wear and couture lines under Riccardo Tisci. After a stint at Paco Rabanne, he served as creative director of Italian brand Iceberg from 2013 to 2015.
Caillaudaud, who got his start designing shoes at Marc Jacobs, joined Givenchy in 2009, creating accessories including jewelry, leather goods, men’s and women’s shoes. He and Martial took over as artistic directors of Carven in 2015, remaining at the contemporary brand for just under two years.
Over the course of his career, Caillaudaud has freelanced for labels including Tod’s, Jil Sander, Saint Laurent and Lanvin. He and Martial have their own brand consultancy, and are launching into interior design with a hotel project.
Pointing to a pile of colorful cushions, Martial said he started tufting four years ago, learning by trial and error. “It began as a hobby, and gradually, it became something I really wanted to delve into,” he explained. “It’s a meditative exercise. I love it. While I’m doing it, my brain is firing on all cylinders.”
He finds knitwear just as creative, since it offers endless possibilities to combine small quantities of yarns. “It’s as simple to create with something that’s already there, and to figure out how to transform it, as it is to try to make something from scratch,” Martial reasoned.
The brand’s handbags — oval-shaped, naturally — are made in limited runs using upcycled leather by a workshop in Normandy that employs disabled people. The one-of-a-kind rugs, meanwhile, are produced by hand by a women’s cooperative in Morocco using locally sourced wool.
“Each design is one pattern, one color, one size. No two are alike. The idea is to be somewhere in between craftsmanship and art object,” said Caillaudaud. “We hope to eventually launch collaborations with ceramics makers and other people that share the same values and want to be a part of this Oval world.”