Sphere: taking digital to a new level at the federation salon
It felt as much like a happening as a fashion salon at Sphere, the new trade show for emerging talent that debuted in January and staged its latest edition this week in Paris.
Featuring some celebrated young hopefuls and some truly novel faces, Sphere included nine designers from almost as many countries, including LVMH Prize winner Thebe Magugu; happening French label Boramy Viguier and cool Belarusian fashion project Boyarovskaya.
Each of the designers, who also included Germanier, Kenneth Ize, Mossi, Bluemarble, Egonlab and Mansour Martin – also showed videos. Many unveiled on specially arranged time slots with the Federation de la Haute Couture, French fashion’s governing body, which controls the official calendar of each Paris seasons. The federation also organizes the well-edited Sphere salon.
The live highlight of Sphere turned out to be Kenneth Ize, a 30-year-old Nigerian who unveiled his latest ideas before a live installation, a large mural painted live, where the images showed the actual clothes and models in the collection.
Born in Lagos, he studied in Vienna under Bernard Willem and Hussein Chalayan, before launching his own label. The younger son of two Nigerian immigrants to Austria who worked for Ikea, Ize moved back to Africa five years ago. Working with one main fabric, Aso Oke – a colorful woven in rayon and cotton, developed by the Yoruba people of West Africa.
“It takes five days to make one meter,” notes Ize, whose clothes however are made in plants in Italy.
He calls his silhouette 'Dictator Chic,' referring to the grand shoulders that riff on the strongmen who took over post-colonial Africa. His very cool multi-ethnic cast swarmed around a set, bedecked with flowers, dressed in bold striped waistcoats; flared pants or dandy belted safari jackets. All during the display, artists continued painting the mural of Mati, which featured characters in the current collection.
“I wanted a culture in a loving space. And, I grew up in a Nigerian culture, where I never saw one flower in our Viennese living room,” said Ize, a fun-loving, voluble Nigerian, whose nail varnish is green; and his favorite drink is Guinness and tonic water.
His fellow African, Magugu, was unable to make it to Paris this season, but did unveil a brilliantly witty Indie spy movie video, named Counter Intelligence, about spies and counter-spies during the Apartheid era. One shirt Magugu showed was even made of a print based on the confessions of one real spy for the old regime.
Close by, one discovered Maria Boyarovskaya, who shows hyper adaptable clothes including a leather bomber jacket with its own strap to hang the garment over the shoulder. Echoes of constructivism meet minimalist rock-star chic in this smart collection.
“We shot on the moon,” said Maria of her video, lensed on the volcanic soil of Lanzarote on the Canary Islands by her partner Artem Kononenko. A mutant-like model parades around the scorched earth vistas, an ideal setting for the Boyarovskaya look.
Sphere takes the place of a former salon, Designer Apartment. By adding a heftier emphasis on digital creation, and the support from wholesale online platform Le New Black, the federation has advanced this key developer of new talent to another level.
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