6 posts tagged "Christopher Esber"
Style.com’s Katharine K. Zarrella reports from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize during my short time in Sydney, it’s that a healthy chunk of Australian life is about having a good time, hitting the beach, and looking great while doing it—and I think that’s gorgeous. This is perhaps the only fashion week in my entire career in which the tanning credits have been included in the show notes. If that doesn’t speak to Sydney’s fun-in-the-sun mentality, I don’t know what does.
Also indicative of Sydney-siders’ enviable lifestyles? We Are Handsome’s Spring ’14 outing. Held at the oh-so-green Paddington Reservoir Gardens, the show boasted swimwear covered with splashy prints (a bikini top that looked like watermelon slices was particularly clever), feather headdresses, dancing models, and oversize baubles in the shapes of wild animals and refreshing fruits. The stars of the show, however—coming in just ahead of a few shirtless male models who strutted with surfboards under their arms—were two shockingly calm young ladies who strolled down the catwalk with live pythons coiled around their torsos. “We have a snake print, so it made sense,” said designer Katinka Somers of the exotic accessory. “We tried to get a tiger, but we couldn’t do it,” added her husband and codesigner Jeremy Somers, gesturing to a swimsuit emblazoned with the cat.
Later on, designer Toni Maticevski presented a more elegant—albeit no less lively—side of Sydney style in his impressive lineup of sculpted, kicky skirts, dresses, and jackets. Crafted almost entirely of a non-crease neoprene-like material, the gray, black, white, and acid orange collection had a thoroughly modern sensibility, yet still nodded back to the classics. One tangerine jacket, for instance, recalled Cristobal Balenciaga’s cocoon coat. Meanwhile, full frocks referenced fifties silhouettes, and mesh overlays brought a sporty modesty to skin-baring looks. Also notable was the designer’s theme: orchids. The glossy runway was covered in a shadowy floral print, as was a range of his high-volume wares. “I thought, What if we fed orchids glycerin and weird-looking chemicals, and then shot them into space?” explained the designer backstage. He later added, “It’s important not to shy away from creativity.” No doubt, Maticevski embraced it here. And it paid off.
Tuesday’s runways wrapped with Aussie favorite Christopher Esber’s nautical collection. Big gold buttons on jackets and skirts really drove home Esber’s “women on the water” vibe, as did playful little tags that were embroidered with models’ initials. Ribbed knits—an Esber signature—were among the best pieces in the show. A skirt of that variety was embellished with beading, and a nineties-esque cream spaghetti strap slipdress, paired with a white tube bra, embodied the laid-back sensuality that seems key to the Down Under aesthetic. “Australian fashion overall has a sense of ease and sexuality to it,” explained Esber postshow. He experimented with the latter for Spring with a series of über-short wool-silk-viscose blend bloomers, which were styled with matching conservative jackets. The overall effect of these pastel ensembles was fifties cadet-cum-pinup. As for his future plans, Esber, who has gained international acclaim after winning the Aussie leg of the 2013 International Woolmark Prize, offered that broadening his global presence is currently his main focus.
Day two ended—as all good days should—with a party. This season, Romance Was Born, the cerebral, vivacious range designed by Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, skipped the runway in favor of a collaborative exhibition with artist Rebecca Baumann—a fitting move, considering the Sydney Biennale is on view next door to the MBFWA site. Dubbed Reflective Glory, the show, which debuted with a raucous dance party, focused on wearable objects of celebration. Shimmering, painstakingly embellished sequined frocks were intended to stir up nostalgia in the viewer, reminding them of unforgettable fetes or nights out on the town. No look epitomized that concept more than a vintage Madonna T-shirt that the designers covered in clear sequins and transformed into a dress via metallic streamers. The garment was made with the same shirt that Sales wore when he first met Plunkett at a house party years ago.
Displayed hanging from the ceiling, Romance Was Born’s wares looked to be dancing with Baumann’s installation of color and light—the space was a veritable kaleidoscope of energy and pizzazz. “We fly our own flag,” explained Plunkett during a preview. “We’ve always just done what we wanted and have tried not to overthink things. Our clothes are more about a feeling.” As for this particular collection, she offered, “We want the consumer to engage with it on an emotional level. It’s not just about wanting to look hot or sexy.”
As I mentioned before, Day Two’s shows magnified Sydney’s sense of fun. More important, however, they proved that there are some very serious talents here who work very hard—they just happen to have a ripping time while doing it.
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.