Born on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Willy Dabriou was raised in Paris and came down to Provence to study art in Avignon. He settled in St. Remy in 1996. I've known Willy for years: he and his partner, Cornelius Alsen, have a thriving home-rental and management business here and are involved in lots of local activities. I see them at parties, gallery openings, concerts--and even once bumped into them on
Lincoln Road in . I knew Willy was a world traveler with a particular passion for Miami Beach North Africa. But I only found out recently that, trapped inside, was a talented artist just dying to bust out. (He also sings beautifully--but that's a story for another day.)
About a year ago, Willy finally gave in to the artistic urge and started making jewelry: beautiful one-of-a-kind necklaces and bracelets crafted from shells, exotic beads, buttons, mother of pearl and more. Then came handbags, belts and the Moroccan-style slippers known as baboushes. Word began to spread and people began to buy. So Willy converted a guest-house on his own property into a workshop and showroom, which is open to the public for the next few weeks. Here you'll find necklaces starting at 35€, belts priced at 35€, funky and fun wool hats and a few gorgeous calfskin handbags (including one draped in skunk pelts, which Willy pronounces skoonk). The selection changes just about every day as new pieces are finished. Custom orders are welcome so if you have a favorite outfit missing that certain something, bring it in or send Willy a photo and he'll create the perfect accessory.
Each time he has a large number of new creations, Willy stages a fashion show, complete with gorgeous models, great music,
, a red carpet and a motorcycle (no fashion show should be without one!). Drop Willy an email and he'll add you to the invite list. Champagne
Willy's studio and showroom will be open to the public until January 13th so feel free to drop in. You'll know you're in the right place when you see the blue-hatted mannequin at the gate. If nothing else, you'll make a new friend: a charming and talented designer who had the courage to follow his bliss and transform his passion into an exciting new profession.
#4, rue Emile Daillan