Ones to Watch

Ones to Watch

A Quartet Of Young Designers Are Shaking Up the Fashion World With Their Fresh Perspective. From V76 The Sports Issue

A Quartet Of Young Designers Are Shaking Up the Fashion World With Their Fresh Perspective. From V76 The Sports Issue

Photography: Anthony Maule

Styling: Jay Massacret

Text: Christopher Barnard

Text: Derek Blasberg

OLIVIER ROUSTEING

Olivier Rousteing is curled up, catlike, on a sofa at Balmain’s headquarters on rue Pierre Charron. It is a rare moment of downtime for the 26-year-old creative director who, in the last two weeks, has shown his first pre-Fall collection in New York, a second men’s collection in Paris, and delved headfirst into his first solo Autumn effort for the house. Balancing three highly anticipated collections in less than a month is a daunting task. (To wit: the frantic pace and high pressure is what led Rousteing’s predecessor, Christophe Decarnin, to vacate the house amid reports of exhaustion and depression in the spring of 2011.) But the young designer, who is wearing a black T-shirt and quilted jersey trousers (i.e. rockstar sweatpants) is taking it all excitedly in stride. “Is it crazy right now?” he reiterates with a smile. “Yes, and I’m a little freaked out, but I thrive on the adrenaline and the excitement.”

Picking up where Decarnin left off was not easy for Rousteing, who was born in the South of France, studied fashion in Bourdeaux, and worked for Roberto Cavalli before joining the Balmain design team. “It was a weird situation,” he says delicately. “I really love Christophe, and he is an amazing person who taught me a lot. So when they told me what happened I reflected, but not whether or not I should take the job, more like what it meant to me. You can love fashion, but when you work at a company it becomes something different.” He took two days to accept. “What made me happy is that I was working with my team. In the end it was a really good decision.”

And one that has paid off. The buzz surrounding Rousteing has gone from a whisper to a roar since his debut, which paid homage to all of the body-con elements of the house while also subtly  establishing his own footing. Fashion critics were pleased to see less flesh and more embroidery in the collection, which was playfully inspired by an imaginary journey Elvis took through Las Vegas dressed as a Spanish bullfighter. “I want to have fun,” he says jovially. “And then I want to have glamour. I mix that with tailoring and construction, which are hallmarks of the house of Balmain, and something I would never want to turn my back on.”

There are still some elements of the job that Rousteing needs to get more comfortable with—like the designer’s bow. “I went out there and didn’t know what to do,” he says of his Spring show. “I was super scared—but super happy.” Derek Blasberg


ALISTAIR CARR

Alistair Carr’s first interaction with Pringle of Scotland was memorable, to say the least. “I was about seven I think, golfing with my grandparents,” he recalls. “I was so fascinated by the crazy prints and colors of the people on the course (wearing Pringle) that I couldn’t stop staring. My Gram gave me a good smack for that.” It was a harbinger of things to come for Carr, who is now reinvigorating the brand to great effect. Quite a feat, considering Pringle’s predilection for the aforementioned granny golfing knits.  “The biggest challenge is changing people’s perspective,” admits Carr. “Everyone thinks golf, which it is, of course, but there is so much more going on.” Now on his third women’s collection, Carr is settling in nicely and making the brand just hip enough to attact a new customer without alienating the twinset regulars. “That’s the last thing I want to do,” he says. “There will always be great knits or else there’s nothing.”

It’s incredible to think that Carr had never worked with knitwear before joining the company, coming straight from Nicolas Ghesquière’s studio at Balenciaga. He is appreciative of Pringle’s impressive history (it was founded in 1815) and managed to integrate the iconic argyle into his debut ’60s-charged Spring collection. The play of new ideas, like graphic prints from artist Jeff Depner and neon graffiti, as evidenced during Pre-Fall (left), is giving the label a newfound, punchy cool. Carr’s innate sense of experimentation can be chalked up to a playful nature that was apparent at an early age. “There was a day at school where you could wear whatever you wanted if you paid 60p for charity,” he says. “I showed up in silver pants and a turquoise Junior Gaultier vest. It did not go over well, as you can imagine. I guess I’ve always done my own thing.” With Carr’s artful confidence and excitable ambition—he’s ready to take on fragrance and accessories—we can’t wait to see next season’s argyle.  Christopher Barnard


J.W. ANDERSON

Jonathan William Anderson, 27, whose line is called J.W. Anderson, manifested his label in a round-about way. He came to New York to study acting, but when that became dull he moved to London to do a menswear course at the London College of Fashion. “It’s the only school that let me in,” deadpans the designer, who has a kinetic energy and fabulous sense of humor.

He attributes his untraditional career arc in part to sheer boredom. “In 2008, I started making weird jewelry out of clock parts and forced them on friends and family,” says Anderson. “This went on for a while, and after I received my degree in menswear design I decided to do a show that summer in an old church, and I’ve never looked back.” He branched out into womenswear three seasons ago because, he explains, “I love the dichotomy of a man’s and woman’s wardrobe mashup.”

These days his men’s and womenswear lines are two of the London fashion calendar’s most hotly anticipated collections. Last year, Anderson was nominated for a British Fashion Council Award.

The designer, originally from a small Irish town called Loup, fondly recalls that fashion is a family pastime. His grandmother would knit many of his childhood outfits, including charming but embarrassing sweaters featuring farm animals and tractors. “I realize now how much I loved the idea that something could be made from nothing,” he says.

His design process is as smooth now as his grandmother’s was then. It starts with what he calls a rat’s nest of ideas and ends with a rat’s nest of ideas. Anderson pushes himself to build many layers of concepts before building fabrics and prints. “A collection cannot be real if it has a single concept, or else it becomes costume,” he says.  “Life is about lots of layers, and collections have to be built that way too.” DB


ELIPE OLIVEIRA BAPTISTA

“There is a Lacoste product sold every two seconds, somewhere in the world,” boasts Felipe Oliveira Baptista, the French label’s new creative director. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the brand’s scale, maybe the four-km assembly line housed just outside of Paris is a better (and more bewildering) indication. “The size of Lacoste is without a doubt the most challenging. Seeing all of the products going into those boxes is pretty impressive, thousands of polos and tracksuits. The structure here is very democratic, since there are so many (literally) moving parts.” Baptista took the reins of the French sportswear label last summer and sent his first ready-to-wear collection down the runway for Spring 2012. “I was trying to look away from sport a bit. To propose a more real, fuller wardrobe. But still rooted in the brand, of course.” The result was a breezy but sexy take on all of the sporty gear you expect from Lacoste.

Reimagining a label as recognizable as McDonald’s golden arches is intimidating, but Baptista has taken it on very comfortably. Think Bardot on the tennis lawn or soccer pitch, sultry but ready to play. The Lisbon native is, not surprisingly, a well-rounded athlete. “I snowboard, I work out. I grew up in Lisbon which is 20 minutes from the beach. So sport is very much a part of my life.” His relaxed attitude comes through in the clothes and makes for an easy look that dovetails nicely with Lacoste’s legacy of leisure. It’s a synergy that he credits to designing and producing in Paris, his adopted city. “People have been doing this for generations,” he says. “The know-how and craft here is like nowhere else.” Baptista embodies a cool confidence that will take the megabrand to even greater heights. Expect those two seconds of sales to quickly become one. CB

Credits: Grooming (Alistair, J.W., Felipe) Janeen Witherspoon using M.A.C  Cosmetics (Julian Watson Agency)  Makeup and grooming (Anouk and Olivier) Adrien Pinault (Management Artists)  Hair (Alistair, J.W., Felipe) Panos using Bumble and bumble (CLM)  Hair (Anouk and Olivier) Seb Bascle (Artlist)  Manicure Hiro (Jed Root)  Model Anouk de Heer (IMG)  Photo assistants Rob Low and Paul Whitfield  Digital technicians Andre Skjegstad and David Marvier  Stylist assistants Mara Palena and Samuele Marfia  Makeup assistant Keiko Mizuno  Retouching by EMPIRE  Location Studio 96 bis, Paris  Special thanks Spring Studios, London

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