in­ter­view

Hong Kong’s new­est favourite fash­ion de­signer from Syd­ney, CHRISTO­PHER ES­BER, meets KIM BUI KOL­LAR on the launch of his col­lec­tion at Lane Craw­ford

#Legend - - CONTENTS / JULY | AUGUST -

Aus­tralian de­signer Christo­pher Es­ber on his de­but at Lane Craw­ford, Hong Kong

THE HAND­SOME, SWEET Christo­pher Es­ber, who's seem­ingly come out of nowhere with his pre­cise tai­lor­ing tech­niques, lives and works in Syd­ney. On the day of his col­lec­tion launch at Lane Craw­ford, we had a cool chat. Born in Aus­tralia, Es­ber had al­ways had an in­ter­est in de­sign and was con­stantly draw­ing. He de­cided early on that fash­ion was some­thing he wanted to do, so he stud­ied the craft and then started his epony­mous brand not long af­ter­wards.

The brand is eight years old and has been an or­ganic pro­gres­sion of love. As Es­ber freely ad­mits, there has been a learn­ing curve about what works and what doesn't in the dif­fer­ent mar­kets. The ethos fo­cuses on creating clas­sic pieces that aren't nec­es­sar­ily dis­pos­able. He wants to de­sign items that women can come back to after a pe­riod of time – and while clas­sic is im­por­tant, it should al­ways have a bit of a twist. Es­ber is also drawn to things that are some­what boy­ish, try­ing to bal­ance the mas­cu­line and the fem­i­nine. Even if it's a but­ton-down shirt, there's a cut-out. He ea­gerly seeks a bit of re­lease in ev­ery gar­ment.

To­gether, we pe­ruse a rack that show­cases the ex­clu­sive cap­sule col­lec­tion Es­ber has cre­ated for Lane Craw­ford. The resin but­tons are done by hand and have become a sig­na­ture. The knitwear is very strong and it's easy to see that it forms a big part of his suc­cess. He also loves work­ing on suit­ing.

Es­ber uses the word “re­lease” to de­scribe his clothes quite of­ten. I tell him that I in­ter­pret this to mean a sense of ease and sen­su­al­ity. He clearly un­der­stands th­ese neu­tral parts on a woman's body that make her feel sexy and highly in­tel­li­gent at the same time. It's the taste­ful al­lure of a col­lar­bone, the small of the back or the side of the waist, even though ev­ery­thing else may be cov­ered up. The word I reach for is “sen­sual”, but Es­ber isn't com­pletely con­vinced.

Al­most like a knee-jerk re­ac­tion, my hand reaches for the bub­blegum-pink cardi­gan crew­neck in cash­mere. To my de­light, I find a bit of “re­lease” be­tween the sleeve and the body of the sweater. The hem fin­ishes at a length that would look in­cred­i­bly smart with a high-waisted skirt or trousers, giv­ing the Christo­pher Es­ber woman an ar­tic­u­late pro­por­tion. I com­pletely agree with what Kate Moss al­ways says about “know­ing your lengths” – but it's the “re­lease” found on the sweater that makes an item that may seem­ingly ap­pear clas­sic ac­tu­ally look con­tem­porar­ily cool.

Typ­i­cally, Es­ber's colour pal­ette is com­posed of greys, blacks and creams. He was en­cour­aged to step out of his comfort zone for this spe­cial cap­sule col­lec­tion, where there are var­i­ous vi­brant shades of pink, laven­der, white and navy. There's a tai­lored slip dress with his sig­na­ture but­tons, sev­eral skirts of var­i­ous lengths (also with the but­tons) and a crisp tai­lored but­ton-down shirt with “open seams” run­ning along what would be the raglan sleeve seams.

Es­ber's fabri­ca­tions are nice, es­pe­cially for the tai­lored pieces. There's good hand-feel and weight. Be­sides his taste level, this could also be at­trib­uted to his tai­lor­ing back­ground. After he fin­ished his de­sign stud­ies, he went to ap­pren­tice with a tai­lor, where he learned the foun­da­tions of mak­ing a gar­ment. This ex­plains the pre­cise ar­tic­u­la­tion of his gar­ments – or “con­trolled mea­sure­ments”.

We chit-chat over cof­fee as he con­tin­ues his story. After his hands-on train­ing with the tai­lor, he went to as­sist a stylist at Aus­tralian Vogue. This stylist, who will not be named, was one of those ma­jor fash­ion per­son­al­i­ties, helm­ing the kinds of ed­i­to­rial shoots de­picted in the movies. One day, the stylist was de­ter­mined to get some jodh­purs for a shoot. There was noth­ing in the col­lec­tions at the time, so Es­ber had a thought: “Why don't I just make them?” Jodh­purs were the first of many things that he made to ful­fil fash­ion shoot vi­sions un­til it just made to­tal sense to start his own line – after all, he was al­ready get­ting his name cred­ited for clothes in Aus­tralian Vogue.

Eight years later, his name­sake brand has stock­ists all over the world and he's been worn by Ken­dall Jen­ner, Nicole Warne, Chris­tine Cen­ten­era and Caro­line Issa – a crew that might know a thing or two about style and be­ing cam­era-ready. “I like my girls to have a bit of grit,” says Es­ber. “I love it when they look amaz­ing, but also ef­fort­less and cool.

It's not about a prissy-pretty for me. I also never say no to any­thing.”

Es­ber's last state­ment fills me with in­trigue to see what will show up in his col­lec­tion next. If this is what's happening in Syd­ney on the fash­ion land­scape, a trip may be in or­der soon.

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