“If someone had told me all of the things that would happen to me after leaving university just two years ago, I never would have believed them,” Edda Gimnes told T in September. The 25-year-old Norwegian designer is bubbly and enthusiastic — much like her clothes, which resemble large, spontaneous doodles and employ vivid spurts of color and pattern. “My aim is to combine art and fashion in an unexpected way,” she explained. And her design process reflects this sentiment: Many of her pieces begin as small, naïve illustrations (drawn with her nondominant hand), which she enlarges, prints onto cotton canvases and whips up into garments or accessories.
In February, we profiled Michael Halpern, who just won the title of British Emerging Talent for Women’s Wear at the Fashion Awards in London. Despite his clear technical skill (his standout Central Saint Martins M.A. show last year won him his dream job designing couture for Atelier Versace as a consultant), he revels in imperfections. Think seams that overlap, paillettes that don’t quite match, a corset with exposed darts in the lining. “If it’s too pristine and too perfect — it’s not believable,” he said. “I like having everything a bit off and moved — it makes it cooler. I want you to be able to move and breathe in my clothes but still feel glam.”
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This summer, the designer Alan Buanne traveled to Peru to see some of the country’s most rarefied orchids. The flower serves as one of the principal inspirations behind Neous, the shoe label he founded in London in 2015 with his longtime friend, the fashion stylist Vanissa Antonious. But there isn’t a flower anywhere in sight. (Buanne described the label’s aesthetic as “minimal in the truest sense of the word, making something appear utterly simple despite that not being the case at all.”) For Antonious, “It’s that feeling you get when you see something — be it a piece of art or a piece of fine jewelry — that is completely perfect, nothing needs to be added or removed.” They want to recreate that same sentiment with their footwear.
Eny Lee Parker
Eny Lee Parker’s exhibition booth at the Sight Unseen Offsite fair in New York last May was as modern as it was earthy. The 28-year-old designer and ceramist filled the space with furniture that felt unattached to the whims of trends — mixed-media pieces like a glass coffee table with juglike terra-cotta legs. “The terra-cotta pieces are so much more about the forms, and the welded pieces, about the lines,” Parker said. Her infatuation with the form also became a line of ceramic earrings — smooth links of bone, terra-cotta and black clay that put the earth-toned world she creates in the palm of a hand.
“For us it’s never been about being Swedish,” said Saif Bakir, one half of the men’s wear line CMMN SWDN. (The other half is his fiancé and design partner, Emma Hedlund.) “When we started, Swedish fashion was very monochrome and gray and we went against the grain with colors and textures.” The duo departs from classic shapes with offbeat materials and unexpected touches: A polo shirt is rendered with a Lurex collar and cashmere is paired with shiny viscose. Their work is also informed by the balance between the designers’ masculine and feminine instincts. “While we do research separately, with the design process it’s a collaboration all the way,” Hedlund said. “I bring in feminine textures and materials while Saif is the one focusing on the cut.”
The designers Omar Afridi and Hugo Edwards believe that good men’s wear should be about making a man’s daily life a little bit easier. And that’s the idea behind their London-based brand, Léon Bara. Many of the garments are simple in design but clever in construction — like heat-regulating Thermore-lined jackets that have an inner strap, allowing them to be worn across the body when temperatures change. There are even removable pockets on coats so they can be left in a coat room and the owner can still carry the essentials with him.
In March of last year, Ovelia Transtoto packed a small collection into a suitcase and went to Dover Street Market in London, where she worked as part-time shop assistant. Each of the six women’s wear designs she brought was somehow adjustable; for example, tugging on the straps of a jacket turned an oversize silhouette into a tighter, body-conscious style. DSM picked up her debut collection for the fall 2016 season — and has stuck by her since. Her fall/winter collection combined opulent Old World forms and functional fabrics — like a sculptural coat (that contains a hidden hood) lined in Thinsulate. That piece ticked all of her boxes: It is technical in construction, aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian.
In February, we took note of Antonin Tron of Atlein, who was making his runway debut during the fall/winter 2017 season in Paris. Tron boasts an impressive résumé: He worked as a designer at Louis Vuitton, then at Givenchy, and was a senior designer at Balenciaga, where he still freelanced under Demna Gvasalia.The young designer used a piqué/viscose jersey material throughout Atlein’s first three collections. “I choose materials very instinctively based on how I feel I could manipulate, drape and structure them,” he told T.“Materials are always what guides the design process for me.”
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“A love of detail is love for a full life,” the German designer Anna Heinrichs told T. And that maximalist sensibility is on display through Horror Vacui, the women’s wear label she founded in 2012. “It’s a Latin expression which describes the human instinct to decorate, the urge to fill a vacant space with all kinds of details,” she explained. Vibrant sleeping gowns (for day and night), airy tops and oversize shirtdresses in patterned silks and crisp Egyptian cottons are the building blocks of the brand. It all came out of a simple style conundrum: “I wanted a pair of well-made pajamas in Liberty London Fabric that had all the traditional details, from piped buttonholes to boutonniere loops,” Heinrichs said. “But that didn’t exist, so I decided to make my own.”