PARIS — Ballet training, the design process, feminine rage, U-turns and sartorial clashes are among the ideas that this quintet of brands is bringing to Paris for spring 2024.
With a 10-year career at brands including Vetements and Louis Vuitton under his belt, Alain Paul is building his brand Alainpaul on solid foundations. But the main influence for his debut collection, set to bow on Saturday, is not fashion but an earlier passion: his childhood training as a ballet dancer.
He joined the Ballet National de Marseille at the age of eight and left at 18 to pursue a career in fashion, earning degrees in brand management from the Kedge business school, and fashion design from Istituto Marangoni.
“Those 10 years of my life really shaped my reality and my narrative today of how I interpreted clothes within this spectrum and for me, that is quite new. I don’t feel it in the market,” he explained. “I think the brand is bringing a bit of softness to the industry. I feel we have in the industry a very aggressive aesthetic, in general.”
Alain Paul, who goes by his first name like his former boss Demna, cofounded the label with his partner Luis Philippe, who has handled wholesale sales for labels such as Balenciaga, Jacquemus and Alaïa. Alainpaul’s debut collection, which includes footwear, will be presented at the Théâtre du Chatelet, and the duo already have 30 buying appointments lined up.
On the mood board are images of Rudolf Nureyev flexing his honed physique in workout gear, alongside dancers performing choreographies by Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham. Scattered in are tailored looks, including a ‘90s-era Versace menswear campaign, neatly summing up the dichotomy of the line, which balances rigor and ease.
Tailored jackets are elongated and feature tilted shoulder constructions, while pencil skirts are revisited as tops and linear evening gowns. Leotards are paired with warm-up pants or floor-length skirts for women or men, suggesting a fluid approach to dressing, underpinned by a precise take on proportion and cut.
“I wanted to show the beauty of discipline, of rigor,” Alain Paul said. “When you train, you repeat, repeat until you reach perfection.” — Joelle Diderich
For many in the industry, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was a damper on their plans. Not so for Australian designer Christopher Esber.
Not only did he start 2020 with his designs on Zendaya, but the runup to Europe’s lockdown was when he cinched an order from Net-a-porter. Since then his tastefully cutout dresses have been spotted on the likes of Dua Lipa, Rihanna and Margot Robbie.
Growing up, the Sydney-based designer was obsessed with putting on a fashion show, which led him to learn skills ranging from sketching to pattern-cutting and tailoring. “It’s all about the problem-solving that comes with design and how to make it work,” he said.
After graduating from Sydney’s Fashion Design Studio at TAFE design school, he went on to a one-year apprenticeship with a local tailor before launching his brand in 2010.
His first collection was shown during Australian Fashion Week, and by 2012 he was taking his brand to New York Fashion Week and to market in Paris, where his smartly priced line — starting at 490 euros for separates and up to 1,000 euros for dresses — found retail traction.
The brand, which grew to encompass a full ready-to-wear line as well as swimwear, footwear and jewelry, garnered a number of accolades including winning the 2013 regional Woolmark Prize and taking part in the following year’s global final. Earlier this year, Esber also entered the bridal market with the launch of a capsule on Net-a-porter, consisting of seven designs for brides, bridesmaids and wedding guests.
In a nutshell, the designer’s work has “this freeing sensibility to pieces that teeter on the edge of a stricter silhouette — looking at beach culture and officewear” that he attributes to being from Australia, where “there’s always the idea of being in the office and dreaming of a getaway.”
To make his mark in Paris, which he sees as a place “where creativity meets polish,” Esber worked a spring 2024 collection that explores the connection between humans and nature.
“Bringing an idea back to its purest form is something I strive for and what motivates me,” he said. “I really want to showcase the brand’s ability to work through different fabrics and constructions, but there is a primal undertone.” His first bag models will also make their debut during his Thursday presentation. — Lily Templeton
Indépendantes de Cœur
Though London-based, French designer Valériane Venance thinks “women’s butts are fantastic, to be frank” and has made a heart-shaped outline that defines a shapely derrière the signature of her Indépendantes de Cœur brand, don’t — ever — take this as an invitation.
The idea that women feel compelled to police themselves and their wardrobes to be perceived as acceptable or merely stay safe is something “that’s pissing me off so f–king much, to be honest,” she said.
That outrage became the starting point of her spring 2024 collection inspired by “feminine rage,” a sentiment that is “the female expression of normal anger” and “has been depicted as something ugly through history,” she said.
It will be expressed using the craft-intensive ruffles that are her sartorial signature and cage-like designs, in collaboration with jewelry brand CC-Steding, that make sexualized elements of the female body visible while keeping them out of reach.
Handcraft is a central part of her work, as Venance has loved turning her hand at anything from painting to modeling objects for as long as she can remember. Clothing design “got stuck in her head” because her grandmothers, seamstresses both, had been thrilled about making bespoke clothes for their first-born grandchild.
Natural fabrics is what Venance loves the most, in particular Irish linens, which she sources in London — that’s one address she won’t share for love or money, she joked.
Having ditched a formal art and fashion education in favor of hands-on experiences in London’s fashion houses seven years ago, Venance started to showcase her personal work on Instagram two-and-a-half years ago.
When it found its audience and she began fielding requests for custom designs, she formalized it under the moniker Indépendantes de Coeur, named after a remark in the testament of Valtesse de la Bigne, a French courtesan turned countess who said she’d stayed a woman “independent of heart” in spite of public opinion.
While she has designed outfits for the likes of Devon Ross, Małgosia Bela and a set of eight women reciting poetry as part of British singer-songwriter Celeste’s latest performance, Venance says her highest point was doing custom headpieces for Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons fall 2023 ready-to-wear collection last March.
With her off-schedule Paris debut at 3537 on Oct. 2, she will be introducing pieces that are easier to reproduce, although her plan is to continue to make everything in-house in her London atelier. Prices for dresses range from 500 pounds to more than 1,000 pounds for the most elaborate designs. Should you want to dabble without committing, Venance also makes cushions, sold for 180 pounds. — L.T.
Throw out what you imagine the Quira playbook to be — that’s what designer Veronica Leoni did.
Returning to the office after clearing the semifinal stage of the 2023 LVMH Prize for Young Designers, the Jil Sander and Phoebe Philo alumna found herself hankering for “something totally new and to just be curious, excited by something that’s just the opposite of what we are exploring and showing now,” she said.
Not to spoil what she’s going to present on Oct. 1, but Leoni has put on the backburner the tailoring and structured silhouettes she’s explored since launching the brand in 2021.
“In a way, the instinct of going very high summer brought me into very spirited and quite liberated femininity,” the designer said. Cotton voile has “been [her] big friend for the season” and Leoni has also played with sherbet shades for her palette, employing a new dyeing technique using mineral powders that yielded a cloudy, dusty effect.
The Quira woman is, as ever, “a very clever woman that lives our time in a very dynamic way, is quite intelligent and knows how to dive into the market,” a byword for a magpie approach to one’s wardrobe, irrespective of price points, but with an eye for quality.
“When you get connected to your customer for those details, the bond is very longlasting,” Leoni continued.
Prices will be in keeping with her previous efforts, with knitwear at 790 euros, pants and skirts around 1,250 euros and up to 2,100 euros for tailored jackets and coats.
While accessories and shoes continue to be an integral part of the collection, Leoni is also keen “to focus as much as possible on hitting a balanced and eclectic mix for a contemporary female wardrobe.”
In another first, the Quira collection “went out of the photography studio” for its spring imagery. “We were outside, there was a lot of sky and we will try to bring that very same energy into the
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With a family like Paloma Lanna’s, where her grandmother, uncle and parents all have a fashion label to their name, is it any surprise that she, too, would eventually start one too?
But before the 2014 launch of Paloma Wool — which plays on the homophony between her last name and the Spanish word for wool — the designer took a detour via Barcelona’s ESADE business and law school.
Though one might assume the brand only deals in knitwear due to its name, Paloma Wool offered at first easy shapes livened up with photography, another interest of Lanna’s. It has since grown into a full ready-to-wear line alongside bags, shoes and jewelry, all made in Spain.
Other creative projects like books and ceramics have also made an appearance over the seasons, as well as collaborations with artists.
Another sign of the brand’s growing maturity — and hers as a person, she added — was her decision to start showing in Paris, with her first off-schedule presentation a year ago.
For spring 2024, Lanna wanted to juxtapose “very elegant, delicate pieces” with “super casual streetwear,” matching her sartorial preferences. Another influence she cites is the 17th-century painting “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez, which inspired exaggerated volumes in balloon skirts and dresses.
But since the collection will also coincide with the brand’s first decade, she wanted to reinterpret some of its greatest hits, including the Archive pant, a tailored slack shape with a miniskirt overlay, that will be offered in sheer silk.
Prices average around 150 euros for a top and 200 euros for a dress, while those signature trousers would come out around 225 euros. A fall 2023 leather coat, produced to order, is the brand’s most expensive item at 950 euros.
Stocked at nearly 50 retailers worldwide, including Liberty London, Ssense and 10 doors of Nordstrom in the U.S., the brand is poised for its next step in retail: a flagship in Barcelona slated for 2024.
“We do pop-ups all around the world every year and it’s a beautiful way to be in contact with our community,” Lanna said. The upcoming retail space will double up as an exhibition place for the artists and the collaborations that “will stay forever the core essence of the brand.”
It will also become home to the Paloma Wool studio and, adds the designer after a beat, why not add a restaurant too? “It’s important to have a physical space where people can understand what you really are, in your city,” she said. — L.T.