5 posts tagged "Christopher Esber"
Today in Milan, a panel of judges including Style.com’s Tim Blanks, Franca Sozzani, Angelica Cheung, Frida Giannini, Colin McDowell, and Alexa Chung selected the winner of the coveted International Woolmark Prize. Competitors included the States’ Joseph Altuzarra (who will be sending us a diary chronicling his experience), the U.K.’s Sibling, Asia’s Ffixxed, Australia’s Christopher Esber, and Rahul Mishra, who represented India and the Middle East. So which talent won the judges’ affections? That would be Mishra. Having shown a lineup focused on embroidery, the designer will take home $100,000 AU in prize money, and his Woolmark collection will be stocked in such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, 10 Corso Como, Harvey Nichols, and Joyce.
Shu Pei working a trim merino tuxedo is a sight for sore eyes—and it’s one that we were privy to last week when Joseph Altuzarra invited Style.com to his fourth-floor studio in Tribeca. The occasion was the lookbook shoot for his International Woolmark Prize capsule, which he’ll present to an esteemed panel of judges (including Franca Sozzani, Frida Giannini, and Style.com’s Tim Blanks) during Milan fashion week on February 21. As the victor of the national competition, which he won with a baby pink wool suit back in July, Altuzarra will represent the U.S. in the final round and compete against the U.K.’s Sibling, India’s Rahul Mishra, Australia’s Christopher Esber, and China’s ffiXXed for a grand prize of 100,000 AUD. “It’s an incredibly prestigious award,” said the designer, who recently sold a minor stake of his company to Kering. “Winning would be a great accomplishment for my team and me—and obviously, the cash prize would be very helpful.” He told us that the spoils would go toward expanding fabric production and development.
Judging by the woolly looks we saw on the designer’s rolling racks, he’s got a fighting chance. Comprising of clever knit dresses, a fit-and-flare black coat, layered skirt and sweater ensembles, and Pei’s tux, the mini collection is simultaneously signature Altuzarra and not, mainly because he experimented with a new (for him) method: needle-punching, a practice that seamlessly bonds two fabrics together via a gradual woven transition (see a sneak peek of the effect, above). “It’s not normally a technique I would use because it has a very different association than what the Altuzarra world is,” he explained. “It’s a bit crafty, and almost a little hippie in spirit.” However, there’s nothing “hippie” about Pei’s tux (or the rest of the collection, for that matter), which boasts the flippy little peplum we’ve often seen from the designer. In this instance, the needle-punching was used for the jacket’s fuzzy back panel. (It looks deceptively like fur.) Elsewhere, it was employed to create a degrade effect on frocks that are fuzzy on top and sheer on the bottom, and fuse bulky, textured knits with smooth, solid fabrics.
As for inspiration, Altuzarra ended up doing some thorough historical research. “Obviously, we were thinking about wool,” said the designer of the 100 percent merino collection. “But we wanted to work inside the Altuzarra vernacular, which is quite sexy, sensual, and seductive. I started thinking about how iconic wool garments were, and how they’ve been staples over time.” His key references were fishermen’s knits; 1950s skirt suits; and Brigitte Bardot’s soft, saucy sweaters (see his mood board, left). The latter motivated him to include a soft pink in his palette. Black, gray, and neutral hues are also in the mix. “I wanted to focus on technique, and the colors are quite pale so that you could really see what’s happening,” he said.
Altuzarra offered that he’s looking forward to meeting Woolmark’s other four finalists. Competition is bound to be fierce, but Altuzarra is hoping Pei, who will be accompanying him to Milan, turns out to be his ace in the hole. “When I first started and did my very first show, I cast her,” said Altuzarra. “She was the biggest model we had, so I was very, very, very excited. And I actually realized three seasons ago that I haven’t had a show without her since. She’s my good-luck charm.”
Check back next month to see Altuzarra’s exclusive diary from the competition.
Woolmark continues to announce its 2014 finalists this week, revealing today that two-time nominee Christopher Esber will represent Australia in the Oz-based wool brand’s international competition—the winner of which will be announced during Milan fashion week in February. Esber—who’s been pegged as one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-comers—will go head-to-head with labels from around the globe, such as Sibling, which will compete for the U.K., ffiXXed, a Shenzhen-based design collective that took the Asian finals, and our hometown pick, Joseph Altuzarra, who won the U.S. leg of the competition last week. The victor will take home $100,000 AUD and be stocked in stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, 10 Corso Como, and Harvey Nichols.
Australia fashion week wrapped in Sydney today, and Style.com’s special projects editor, Maya Singer, has been reporting back on the most exciting shows. To view our complete Australia fashion week coverage, click here.
Fashion week in Sydney concluded this afternoon with a show by Zambesi (left), one of the major brands from New Zealand. Even if you hadn’t known that Zambesi was based in Auckland, the clothes on the runway made it altogether clear that a non-Australian sensibility was at work. To put it plainly, Zambesi designers Elisabeth Findlay and Dayne Johnston have an affection for the eccentric and borderline frumpy that the local Sydney designers do not share at all. The men’s looks, designed by Johnston, were relatively straightforward—vaguely thuggish tailoring, plus the odd flourish like a pair of tailored wool shortalls. The womenswear, from Findlay, had a bit more range, with crispy and rather clinical white looks ebbing into more challenging pieces, such as long narrow dresses covered with fringe tassels. For both sexes, the sharpest looks were the ones in a tartan organza; very on-trend, that.
Zambesi aren’t the only carpetbaggers on the Australian fashion scene. Jewelry designer Estelle Dévé hails from the South of France, originally, but her brand is based in Melbourne, and in the five years since she launched, it has emerged as something of a cult phenomenon. Dévé’s signature pieces are plated rings with a rough-hewn look; this season, she’s elevated her aesthetic quite a bit, drawing on her French heritage for a bit of soigné, and sourcing influence from the surrealists. Standout pieces in the new collection include statement necklaces with egg-shaped crystal pendants half-covered in a dissolving layer of silver.
Dévé adapted several pieces from the new collection for a capsule range of bracelets and necklaces made in collaboration with Camilla and Marc (left). Those pieces were on the Camilla and Marc catwalk at the very start of Australian Fashion Week; so too was the jewelry work of Ryan Storer, whose dangerous-looking ear pieces adorned all the models at the show. Storey’s brand is ultra-new”—his very small debut collection is shipping to stores now, with a selection of the ear pieces due to arrive at Browns in London at any moment.
It’s a long way between Australia and New York—23 hours by air—and accordingly, Aussie designers have had less of a presence in the city than they might. But this week, the Australians in New York Fashion Foundation and the Woolmark Company have brought five star down-under designers to the city to give them a chance to shine. The Australian Five, as they are called, get their official American coming-out party tonight at the Crosby Street Hotel. Before they present their collections in New York this week, Style.com introduces the fab five: Kym Ellery, Magdalena Velevska, Fernando Frisoni, Christopher Esber, and Michael Lo Sordo.
Ellery, a Perth native, has long been a standout at Australian fashion week since she first presented her collection in 2007. After a stint at Russh magazine, she noticed a gap in the market and launched Ellery. “My goal: to create garments that women really want to wear,” she tells Style.com. “A seamless urban uniform for women with style.” Her uniforms mix comfort with aesthetics, focusing on architectural shapes with luxurious fabrics, and have been picked up by everyone from Courtney Love to Abbey Lee Kershaw. She’s also got a scented candle coming out this year and, in keeping with her zine roots, she’s working on the latest issue of her annual “book-zine,” the Ellery Gazette.
Unlike a few of her Australian Five compatriots, Veleska studied and worked in the fashion industry for over ten years before launching her own line. “This was something I wanted right from the start,” the Macedonian designer says. Her collections are “textile-driven,” she explains, with couturelike embroidery techniques and lace-worked knitwear. “These are juxtaposed with pieces that have a minimal and future-forward aesthetic.” As she continues to develop her label, she’s ready to start pushing the envelope, developing new textiles and exploring new knitting and felting techniques.
Continue Reading “Oz Ascending: Five Australian Designers To Know Now” »