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Enter the fantastic world of Unique Pieces

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What 90s kid didn’t wake up early on Saturday morning to sneak into the living room before their parents woke up? Like many, I parked in front of the TV to make sure I didn’t miss any episode of Dragon ball z. For years, all I wanted was to teleport to their universe to be a sidekick of Goku and Bulma, in search of those elusive star orbs all over the world.

It was also the childhood of the Parisian artistic director and founder of Pièces Uniques, Edmond Luu. We both had a stealthy Asian parent crawling on the roof and adjusting the satellite pins just to capture channels in our native languages ​​that otherwise weren’t offered by local providers.

“How do you know that?” Luu laughs, explaining how his father used to hack television. Like most immigrant children, we recognize the story of our parents who only need a little home. While everyone at school could have watched dubbed versions of DBZ Where Pokemon, we Asian children had access to manga otherwise unavailable in the West. It is these cartoon characters and their daring outfits that remain a key influence for Luu and his Pièces Uniques brand today.

Luu’s father is Cambodian, his mother Vietnamese. He grew up listening and learning to speak Teochew, the southern Chinese dialect spoken by his parents. They escaped postcolonial French Indochina, caught in a wave of misery and conflict across Southeast Asia in the 1980s. They met in France after fleeing their home country, finding links through a common language and culture. Arriving first in Strasbourg, in the north-east of France, the family then settled in a suburb on the outskirts of Villepinte, in Paris, where they still live.

In Villepinte, Luu grew up surrounded by other immigrant families and shared their culture and customs. He says his childhood home is “famous” for being the most dangerous neighborhood in Paris: “Nothing there was supposed to get me to work in fashion. But it’s a strength to grow up in the suburbs, to be connected to all cultures.

At the time, her mother worked as a seamstress in the workshop of a fast fashion brand alongside her father, who worked there as a fabric cutter. With every immigrant parent wanting more for their child than the life they led, Luu’s mother discouraged him from working in the same industry.

“When I told them I wanted to do fashion, my mom said, ‘No, don’t do that. It’s really bad. You’re not going to make any money.

With his parents working tirelessly, he was often left alone. Luu found the escape by watching animes and reading manga. “My whole childhood was spent playing LEGO BIONICLE, Pokémon, Power Rangers and watching anime from the 80s and 90s, like GTO: Great Professor Onizuka, Captain Tsubasa, then Naruto and Bleach later. My parents were going out so much, so I used to stay at home in my own world.

This world was an amalgamation of Naruto‘s Elemental Nations, the Tokyo belly of a number of manga and the pastoral landscapes of a Studio Ghibli film. Luu eagerly remembers how his greatest wish was to become a mangaka, an animator of these dreamlike landscapes. “I feel because I haven’t become a mangaka, I am now trying to put all my creativity of what I wanted to do before in my Uniques Pieces brand.

After high school, Luu studied advertising at the Graduate School of Advertising, where he became deeply interested in how consumers read images and, in turn, how an image is sold to the consumer. “Advertising is like a Da Vinci painting. They put the logos here, “he said, pointing,” so your eyes would read from this to that. The model’s face is backlit as your eyes are drawn to it. I really like this way of interpreting an image.

This state of mind brought him to the sets of Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent, clients of Publicis 133, the advertising agency where Luu worked as artistic director before he turned 20. Later, Parfums Christian Dior, the cosmetics subsidiary of couture House, poached him to become an advertising creative director, where he continues to work today. Working on Unique Pieces is always reserved for evenings, weekends and holidays.

Costume, necklace and ring left hand UNIQUE PIECES Top LOU DE BETOLY Earrings ALAN CROCETTI Rings right hand MUGLER

“When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Kanye West’s style. I got interested in fashion because of him, to be honest. At 19, Luu began reworking and selling second-hand Levi’s, putting the money on the production of a coat inspired by West’s 2014 collaboration with APC “The coat I made had a collar. kimono. I wanted to produce it because I didn’t like the shape of Kanye and APC’s design – it looked a bit too European. It might be cheesy to say, but I just can’t relate to what I wanted to wear.

Soon after, Luu began to create collections under the name of Unique Pieces. “It’s a cinematographic brand,” he explains. “It is not linked to a country or a culture. It’s more like a mix of everything I saw when I was young, plus anime and pop culture. But it can also be the fantasy of a witch or a magician. It’s a dream for me.

Sometimes Luu will use cosplay outfits as the basis for his designs, adapting the exaggerated silhouettes of the anime to real life. Take a crossover suit, for example, which Luu says is inspired by Spike Spiegel, the protagonist of the Japanese space jazz manga. Cowboy Bebop, and which is a reworked mix of an iconic Christian Dior Oblique costume with that of the character. “Even if you don’t know this reference, it’s just a nice costume.”

Unique Pieces offers a unique range of possibilities. In Luu’s words, this allows someone who “wears Dior to be as protected as wearing Arc’teryx.” He continues: “In our world, we have to dream. I want people who wear Unique Pieces to feel that they can recognize themselves as another character. I want my clothes to look like Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, which gives you strength for your day. It’s about balancing fantasy and reality – and being able to sell, because it’s a business.

At 26, Luu works with the same “little family” with whom he started Uniques Pieces at 19, including Bilal El Kadhi, the photographer and director who has shot each collection since the beginning. “In my films, I don’t care if I show the clothes. Everything revolves around the universe. People must be dreaming. Luu wants to leave behind a “valuable legacy”, rather than mere images. “My dream is to someday be a costume designer for [Hayao] Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, because Miyazaki shares values ​​and aesthetics in his films. His films are like a two hour anime scent campaign.

Each Unique Pieces collection comes from a story drawn by Luu, making himself the protagonist, whether it is about the life of a new civilization on the moon or the daily life of a military leader in a fictional country. . These fantastic stories structure his imagination and his process. “Take Naruto, whose universe includes several countries: the Land of Fire, Lightning, Water, Earth and Wind. Power rangers is the same: blue, black, yellow, pink, red, green. Everything I watched when I was young was structured like this.

For a long time, Luu wanted to draw his own map of the world of Unique Pieces, where each collection corresponds to a distinct territory. His map is not associated with any terrestrial geography, but with a concept of another world. So how do you get there? Luu refers to the Unique Pieces logo. “It’s called a key, a key, because one day it will open something.