August 30 2014

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1 posts tagged "Zoe Walters"

ITS and Diesel Make Young Designers’ Dreams Come True


Diesel Award

Trieste, an Italian town just outside of Venice, is charmingly stuck in another era. Ancient Roman relics are just minutes away (by boat, of course) from Castello di Miramare, a 19th-century castle built specifically so Empress Sissi of Austria could have her numerous nervous breakdowns in decadent seclusion. The cobblestone streets are narrow. The bars close at midnight. And the Internet connection is virtually nonexistent. So it’s ironic, perhaps, that this old-fashioned locale is home to International Talent Support, one of the world’s foremost fashion competitions known for championing the new. Founded by Barbara Franchin—a Trieste native—in 2001, the competition has given such designers as Michael van der Ham, Peter Pilotto, Astrid Andersen, Aitor Throup, and Heaven Tanudiredja their starts. Franchin has helped other victors find work placement at mega houses including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, Lanvin, Chloé, Kenzo, and many, many more.

According to Franchin, who travels to fashion schools all over the globe to scout new talent, more than 1,200 jewelry, accessories, and fashion designers applied for the 2014 competition. This past weekend, eleven finalists in each category (save accessories, which had ten) presented their collections to esteemed juries. I sat in on the fashion section, and I can tell you, it was a pretty nerve-racking experience for these young designers, all of whom were just out of fashion school (albeit esteemed ones like the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins). But considering this year’s judges, I couldn’t blame them for being anxious. Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni, Susie Bubble, and Diesel’s Nicola Formichetti were all on the panel, surveying the collections and asking questions. And considering Diesel is the main sponsor of ITS, Formichetti’s presence was no doubt particularly intimidating, despite the designer’s signature laid-back demeanor.


“This competition is very important to me because we want to discover talents when they are virgins,” explained Renzo Rosso, Diesel’s founder, who is deeply invested in ITS. “We screen eighty countries and one hundred universities. [The designers] are just out of school—they’re pure, and every year we hire one or two [finalists] at Diesel. They can really come in and help grow the brand, and it’s very important to help open doors for these young people.”

Formichetti offered that he liked the competitors who really went for it, like Yasuto Kimura (above, left), whose backpack-jacket hybrids, futuristic suiting, and matching surgical masks were inspired by Japanese businessmen jammed into commuter trains. He ended up taking the SHOWstudio Award. Also on Formichetti’s radar was Ukrainian Central Saint Martins graduate Natalija Mencej. Her extremely detailed and sternly cut menswear range (above, right) was based around, as she told it, “Japanese truckers who trick out their trucks.” Mencej earned the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana Award. “I want to see something bonkers,” Formichetti told me. “I don’t want to see something commercial—I want to see inside their world.”

Best Collection

Later that day, Formichetti got his wish. The theme behind the runway show, set in a building by the sea, was “Lucid Dreaming.” And as the designers sent their collections down the runway, it was as if all their “bonkers” dreams had come to life. Katherine Roberts-Wood took the Fashion Collection of the Year prize for her womenswear, which looked like an armadillo had been crossbred with a rose and a Slinky. And I mean that in the best way possible. It was mind-boggling how well she controlled her silhouettes despite the countless laser-cut petals of bonded neoprene that made up her wares. “It started off with the obsessive idea of repetition,” she told me after the show. “Each piece is linked together without stitching.” Her win, which came with 15,000 euros and the chance to present at next year’s competition, was much deserved. The 28-year-old Royal College of Art graduate hopes to launch her own line with the spoils.

Fashion Special PrizeThe Fashion Special Prize went to Icelandic designer Anita Hirlekar for her vibrant, maniacally embroidered womenswear offering (left). “The starting point for me was actually the reverse side of an embroidered sample I found,” said the Central Saint Martins grad after the win. “It was very organic, rather than really ‘perfect,’ so I kind of wanted to explore that and make a painting of sorts.” It took her four days to make each outfit. The stitching sometimes made her fingers bleed. Her efforts earned her 5,000 euros.

And then, of course, there was the Diesel prize. Each fashion competitor was asked to create a single denim look, and the designer behind the best ensemble would be awarded 20,000 euro, as well as a six-month internship at Diesel. This year, that lucky victor was Zoe Walters, a 27-year-old Royal College of Art grad who caught the judges’ attention with her sculptural bonded denim jacket and oversize deep blue denim shirtdress (top. I’m not a denim fan, per se, but I wanted this outfit on my body immediately. “I want to get some really solid experience with Diesel,” said Walters about her next step. “Then we’ll see what happens.”

But the formal awardees won’t be the only winners in this competition. Formichetti plans to pull some of the accessory finalists’ work for Brooke Candy‘s upcoming video. Expect to see ceramic limbs, extreme black ballerina shoes, and cascading crystal baubles in Candy’s next flick. I’d imagine that, for many an emerging designer, that’s a dream in and of itself.

Photo: Courtesy Photos