DAMDAM

Conversations with

Eric Bergere

BY GISELLE GO AND PHILIPPE TERRIEN

Photographed by Eric Bergere and Giselle Go

One of the south of France’s best kept secrets is the untamed wetlands of Camargue, nestled between Arles and the Mediterrenean Sea. This hidden gem is where pink salt waters and endless cobalt skies meet flamingos and wild horses. It’s also where our friend, the always elegant French designer Eric Bergere, built a summer home and set up shop called DouBochi (“mad man” in Provencal language). A former designer of Hermes and Lanvin, Eric now splits his time between his own DouBochi line and Ines dela Fressange’s eponymous label, which he helped to create and launch. We caught up with Eric during Tokyo Fashion Week to chat about his dual life between the rustic countryside of Camargue and the chic City of Lights.

Hi, Eric! Tell us a little bit about yourself for DAMDAM.

I started at 8 years old to design for the glamourous ladies that I saw on TV in our countryside family house. I did it all the day long during the weekends. Drawing was my hobby and only occupation! I studied industrial and fashion business at 14 years old, in Troyes Champagne, where I was born. I was in Esmod Paris Fashion School at 17. At 19, I became the ready-to-wear designer for women’s collections at Hermes in Paris.

Surrounded by the dreamy wild wetlands of Camargue, south of France, Eric wears his signature DouBochi linen caftan.

“DouBochi is the reflection of the art de vivre of this part of south of France where white horses, bulls and pink flamingos live in total freedom. Endless summer style, linen and organic cotton, unisex clothes to wear in this untouched wild nature.”

Today, you have DouBochi. What is the philosophy behind it?

Dou Bochi is the name of my mas (house) in Camargue. Literally in Provencal language, Mas Dou Bochi means “the house of the mad man!” DouBochi, my collection, is the reflection of the art de vivre of this part of south of France where white horses, bulls and pink flamingos live in total freedom. Endless summer style, linen and organic cotton, unisex clothes to wear in this untouched wild nature is the heart of the collection. Camargue is a land where humans and animals live together with respect ever since, with traditional outfits that you can compare with the cowboys from Arizona or Colorado in the US.

Wild Camargue is reflected in the rustic, eclectic interiors of Eric’s summer home and in his DouBochi collection.

“Thirty years of flea markets and charity shops wherever in the world defined my style for decor… Faded natural materials, old but without value retro framed paintings, used and a bit destroyed pieces of wooden furnitures and Indiennes printed cotton vintage curtains from India and woolen blankets from Sevilla.”

How do you split your time between Paris and Camargue?

I spend long weekends from Friday to Monday in Camargue, where i work with Quentin, my assistant on the collection. The rest of the week, I am in Paris to work and meet friends.

How did you find your home in Camargue? Why did you decide to move there?

For a start, I had a flat with a terrasse in Arles but I needed a more natural and silent environment. It took one year to find a piece of land with a pool not too far from the town of Arles. The mas is just 4 kilometers from the historical center of Arles.

Whether by his pool or the Mediterranean sea, there is no shortage of blue skies.

“I hate routine but the biggest market in Provence area on Saturday morning in Arles can’t be escaped. A coffee on terrasses with friends and baskets full of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, it’s just a great routine.”

How would you describe your interior style in Camargue?

Thirty years of flea markets and charity shops wherever in the world defined my style for decor. Eclectic and a touch of Santa Fe’s wild western American style. Faded natural materials, old but without value retro framed paintings, used and a bit destroyed pieces of wooden furnitures and Indiennes printed cotton vintage curtains from India and woolen blankets from Sevilla.

Do you have a routine when you’re there?

I hate routine but the biggest market in Provence area on Saturday morning in Arles can’t be escaped. A coffee on terrasses with friends and baskets full of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, it’s just a great routine.

Restored and deconstructed pieces make for a place of respite for Eric and his beloved cats.

“Gardening according to the seasons. Swimming from April to October. Reading whenever, in a hamac listening to the wind in the leaves of the trees…”

How do you slow down after a long week of work?

Gardening according to the seasons. Swimming from April to October. Reading whenever, in a hamac listening to the wind in the leaves of the trees. Restoring and painting treasures found in a charity shop are my favorite things to do.

 

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