Aurelyen – The hands, the heart and the spirit of Misericordia
He was born on 31 October 1974 in Drancy, Seine-Saint-Denis (93), France. He spent all his teenage years in Le Bourget, in the suburb of Paris. When he became 16, he decided to change and go to the Paul Bert secondary school, in the Montparnasse area, in Paris. At that time a theatre club started and Aurelyen was egged on by his friends to enroll.
While he was waiting for his evening theater classes, he would go to the movies along the boulevard Montparnasse. It was during his first visit to the Georges Pompidou Center for the Max Ernst exhibition, that he discovered his passion for painting and drawing. He was at the same time attracted, disturbed, provoked but above all curious about art; he then began to draw on the classroom tables as he had little interest in schooling. However, he passed the scientific high school diploma and started to study mathematics at the university.
After two months of profound boredom, he began to play truant and went to the comic book shops in the Latin Quarter. He joined evening drawing classes and continued learning with nude models from art schools of Paris. One day, his chemistry professor happened to meet with him between two shelves of comic books; he advised him to discard the Cartesian logic and follow his passion. So he enrolled in a preparatory school and passed the competitive entrance exam to the school of Les Beaux Arts or Fine Art School. For five years, he visited exhibitions and went on experimenting.
As soon as he finished the school, he left for New York to breathe again and immerse himself in the American art. Back in Paris, he first became the assistant of renowned French artists; he edited videos for movie shows in George Pompidou Center or for television. At the same time he collaborated with architects on urban planning projects. Two years later, he became an art teacher in the School of Architecture of Paris-La Défense and continued his work in several artistic disciplines. For two years, he travelled to discover other environments and artists and develop a more universal look. He was at that time searching of a project which would absorb all his energy and his numerous encounters.
His apartment was then a stopping-off place where there reigned an atmosphere of freedom, which allowed him to meet with Mathieu Reumaux in 2002. That meeting took him to Peru for the first time in February 2003. That first contact with Peru was a true revelation, as well as a terrible spellbinding time of shock which led him up to this sewing school in the midst of the shanty towns of Lima. The same year he went back to Peru twice on his own to better understand and live this emotion which was haunting him. In Lima, he set up the first Misericordia workshop in Zapallal. He learnt Spanish in the streets with a small red dictionary in his pocket. Without any means but his own energy, he made the first machines work and created his first collection.
The collection was drawn on the buses which connect the workshop to Lima, during the daily three to four hours’ long commuting journeys to bring the fabric and the sewing equipment. He built this outstanding project and organized the workshop by the sweat of his brow; he supported the young dressmakers, who were startled by the young Frenchman’s conviction. He went back to France totally exhausted and was hospitalized for four days because he had been infected with Cyclospora – a protozoal disease. When he left the hospital, the collection was presented to Who’s Next Show in Paris: his success was confirmed. Matthieu and he then decided to promote their clothes through Europe. They travelled through France, Germany, Spain and Italy in a small van with a photo album and a large trunk containing the collection! That trip provided Aurelyen and Mathieu with magic conniving moments, which gave them the strength to continue and to move on. In between the shabby hotels and their unexpected visits to the best shops to explain their collection and their message, they passed on the flame of their absolutely unique philosophy. The people they met were amazed by their boldness and their naivety as well as by the collection!
The beginnings were a real initiation for Aurelyen because the worlds of fashion and the clothing business were totally unknown to him. In the streets of the fabric market in Lima, he spent months to feel, learn, smell and explore the materials and the necessary techniques to design an original authentic collection. During the first two years in Zapallal, he drew in his small room filled with fabrics while Valentine, his pattern maker, was working in the kitchen. This lack of knowledge allowed him to set up new ideas. He thrived in the midst of the workshop and the dressmakers, spending his days next to them to develop the prototypes. A conductor was born in this laboratory of creation. Soon highly colored collections with strong messages were born. He found his inspiration in Peru, the country which provided him with lively, unique and colored emotions. All the noise, the colors and the popular Latin frenzy fascinated him. Living half of the year in Peru, he learnt how to establish a particular dialogue to convince the young Peruvian dressmakers that their creations were sublime and that they had to persevere and step up their efforts. Misericordia construction site is at the same time a community center, an artist workshop and an academic amphitheatre.
In 2004 he managed to collaborate with renowned designers such as Bernhard Willhelm, Lutz or Stephan Schneider, and to develop projects demonstrating the high technical andcreative quality of his Peruvian team.
In 2005, after three years of joint work and still shaken up by the chaotic Peruvian environment, an event would disrupt Misericordia and thus Aurelyen’s life: Mathieu, his associate and friend, announced his departure for other horizons. Aurelyen thus started to manage the project on his own.
At the end of 2005, he decided to reorganize Misericordia: part of the team of Misericordia moved to the heart of hell in the district of Victoria, the market of fabric in order to revitalize the adventure and stabilize the production. Year 2005 was terrible, marked by problems and complications, notably the death of an employee in a car accident. That period would change Aurelyen’s vision and consciousness. He understood that the project involved numerous individuals and caused upheavals; this responsibility had to be fully assumed. He had to convince every one to work together in a collective brave spirit, to fight to change their lives through this unique innovative adventure.
The various collections then followed successfully. This progression relies on the continuous development of the know-how and a direct action in Lima on all fronts: creation, education, assistance, production, marketing and communication …
At the end of 2006, the whole Misericordia team moved to a new workshop in the district of Lince in the center of Lima.
He has thus been working on his own for three years with a team that fights every day. The team, which is his Peruvian family, has never stopped developing. The project has grown from ten, 20 and then thirty employees. They opened an embroidery workshop in December 2006 then a weaving workshop in November 2007. The small revolution of year 2008 was the opening of a workshop of screen-printing scheduled for July. In 2006 Misericordia had already over 100 selling points among the most prestigious shops worldwide. In September, 2006, The Herald Tribune published Aurelyen’s portrait in its fashion section.
In December 2006, Aurelyen obtained his Worker certificate and its Peruvian residence card, which was utterly gratifying. These documents make official his profound feeling of membership of Peru, which change his life. In 2008, Misericordia opened his on-line shop that sells all over Europe. It is the symbol of independence and fulfillment of the first Peruvian brand of clothes on the international scene of fashion. Since 2008, Misericordia manufactures each season in his workshop, a special line for Kris Van Assche, the designer of Dior, built around drawings of Aurelyen, creator of the Misericordia. And in 2009, Misericordia opened his first shop in Lima.
Such is the portrait of the man who changed his name when he was 27 to a mere first name – Aurelyen – to establish a more direct straightforward relation just like the role models of his childhood known by their single patronyms. He is 33 years-old today; he continues the construction of a better world by the side of Misericordia!