- Photography by Mr Arnaud Pyvka
- Styling by Mr Dan May, Style Director, MR PORTER
- Words by Mr Chris Elvidge, Senior Copywriter, MR PORTER
Mr Guillaume Néry has some impressive statistics to his name. Take seven minutes and 42 seconds. That's the length of time that the French world champion freediver can hold his breath underwater. "I'm not a specialist," he deadpans. "To be truthful, I find holding my breath in a swimming pool quite boring."
Or how about 123m? That's how far below the surface of the ocean he has swum on a single breath. His chosen discipline, "constant weight" - the name referring to the fact that while swimming aids such as fins are allowed, diving weights are not - is the sport's prestige event, and Mr Néry's personal best, longer than a soccer pitch and a mere three metres shy of the world record, is a figure that marks him out as one of the biggest stars of the freediving world.
You feel as if you are visiting another world, like you're going somewhere that nobody has ever been. It's very peaceful
And there's one last number: 13.6 million. That's how many views his short film, Free Fall, has amassed on YouTube - an impressive total by anyone's standards. Created in 2010, the film is an underwater take on base jumping that sees Mr Néry dive headlong into the darkness of a 200m sinkhole in the Bahamas. It's an inspired idea, filmed to surreally beautiful effect by his wife and fellow diver, Ms Julie Gautier. As he falls through the water in apparent slow motion Mr Néry passes through "clouds" of suspended sand, and his hair is gently swept back as if by a gust of wind. "You feel as if you are visiting another world," he says of the experience, "like you're going somewhere that nobody has ever been. It's very peaceful."
It's this ethereal, almost dreamlike state that Mr Néry and Ms Gautier endeavour to capture in their film-making. "We're trying to show people the beauty of the elements, of the water; the poetry, and not just the performance," he explains. And, by doing just that, he has boosted the profile of his sport in a way that a set of impressive statistics never could.
MR PORTER met Mr Néry on a beautiful spring day in Cannes - just west of Nice, where he lives with his wife and daughter - to try out some carefree looks for summer. Click through the gallery, above, to see what happened.