Christopher Esber talks to Buro about his Resort 15/16 collection, Rembrandt and Christina Ricci
The designer on the rise
Fresh from a successful showing at Paris Fashion Week and on the day of his Resort 15/16 capsule collection showing in Sydney (images below), he tells Buro why he's ready to take on the world.
1. What was the inspiration behind your Resort 15/16 capsule collection?
It was a real Turkish towel vibe - there was this vague reference of workwear and beachwear and merging the two. We started working with our mills in Italy on developing luxurious fabrics that looked like towelling. It was about tailoring those - a really relaxed take on tailoring. We're doing what the brand does, which is minimal tailoring but with a natural, undone quality. The hems of sleeves are left raw, for instance, but it's all done in a very controlled, polished way.
2. What inspired the towelling concept?
I've had this towelling idea in my head for a while. It took a lot of testing until we realised that we could create a fabric that looks like towelling, but isn't.
3. What kind of girl did you have in mind when creating this collection?
When I'm designing I have [model] Rachel Rutt in my mind, she does every show of mine and her face is perfect for this collection. I'm inspired by the women around me and how they're wearing their clothes and their hair day to day - it's an attitude. Even when I see them out, in a beautiful dress, there's always a relaxed, undone quality - they're never over the top or too dressed up and it's the same with my designs. We looked to the unfinished artworks of Rembrandt, there's something about the detail in certain areas of his works. We played around with the proportion in those artworks - a detailed neckline with an unfinished, washed out silhouette - it's beautiful and romantic.
4. What's most important to you when putting a new collection together?
The wearability of the garment - it's that discussion internally in the studio - where are you wearing this? Are you dying to have it? All those questions are really important. From a creative perspective, there's always an idea at the beginning and it tends to grow into other areas.
My customer is quite broad - we dress younger girls as well as women in their thirties, which is where I see the core of the collection. I don't' see our girl wearing our looks from head to toe. We have pieces you can wear casually with a t-shirt and even our more elaborate eveningwear can be worn back with our basics.
5. Who inspires you?
My team does. Working together with a group of people and bouncing ideas off each other. There are a lot of talented designers out there who are all good for different things - I've always found Miuccia Prada really inspiring. It's her fierceness, her collections are always so different and there's always a strong point of view.
6. How about here in Australia?
I'm friends with a lot of Australian designers and we always inspire each other. Kym Ellery is doing amazing things at the moment. She has a fearless approach - she does what she sets out to do and she's doing amazingly, especially internationally. She's a friend and an inspiration.
7. It's been five years since you launched - what have you learnt over that time?
So much. In the early days it was purely creation and figuring out what the brand was about and what works in the market. Today I have a much better handle of the business and just how the business runs and [that] it doesn't end once the product is delivered in store - its' so much more than just design.
8. What are you most proud of?
That we're still going after five years! It was really hard starting out, especially since it was at a really awkward time, the economy wasn't the best, but I feel like I'm doing my own thing and on my own path and it's exciting to see that it's growing each season.
9. Who would you love to dress?
I'm not a celebrity person. I probably should be, my PR boss probably wants me to be but I can't, I'm not that excited by celebrity to be honest. But I always had a crush on Christina Ricci growing up and I just love her, so for nostalgia's sake I'd want to dress her.
10. Where to next for Christopher Esber?
Showing internationally is a big one for me. In Australia I have all my accounts and customers who are really loyal, but we started showing in Paris last season and we got some great feedback. We're focusing on taking the brand internationally and creating more brand awareness. I feel like we're ready. We have the infrastructure and the final product is ready to be shown alongside international brands. For me, growing up, that was the dream. It takes time but I'm persistent. From an early age, I've been drawing clothes, always women's clothes. Ever since I can remember it's always been a focus.
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