Ed­ward von Dadel­szen’s lux­ury of­fer­ings are in a league of their own, says Phoebe Watt

Fashion Quarterly - - Inside -

In­tro­duc­ing E. von Dadel­szen

“Iwas 25 when lux­ury goods hit me like a tsunami. It was just like, BAM. If there was $1200 in my bank ac­count, I would spend $1100 of it on some­thing like this, I just didn’t care.”

Meet Ed­ward von Dadel­szen, founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor of lo­cal lux­ury label, E. von Dadel­szen. The ‘this’ he’s re­fer­ring to is a pair of Ital­ian calf leather lace-ups, price: $1290. He re­cently sold a pair to a young man in his early 20s – a kin­dred spirit of sorts. “Since I was around that same age, all my dis­cre­tionary in­come has gone on beau­ti­ful things,” he ex­plains. “It’s nice to be on the other side of that now, cre­at­ing for peo­ple who un­der­stand lux­ury – but with no smoke and mir­rors. At all.” He takes a sip from a flute of Per­rier-Jouët. “It’s not a con­ceited brand.”

It’s 4pm on a Thurs­day af­ter­noon. At the E. von Dadel­szen show­room in down­town Auck­land there’s me, Ed­ward (who in­tro­duces him­self as Ed­die), his girl­friend Con­stance Cum­mings (who owns vin­tage jew­ellery bou­tique, Love and Ob­ject), his re­tail di­rec­tor, David McNeill, and Fash­ion Quar­terly cre­ative di­rec­tor, Mar­cel Gull. Mar­cel and I are here to view the cur­rent menswear col­lec­tion. As we walk through the cav­ernous space, the su­perla­tives are as free-flow­ing as the Cham­pagne.

“That’s the most ex­pen­sive jersey in the col­lec­tion and it’s the best seller,” says Ed­die of a $1000 cash­mere knit. He helps Mar­cel into a cash­mere over­coat. “This is prob­a­bly one of the most beau­ti­ful over­coat pat­terns on earth.” Next up, a leather jacket. “That is eas­ily the most ex­pen­sive leather gar­ment in the coun­try right now.” It’s pro­duced by pre­mium Parisian leather man­u­fac­turer, Seraphin. “With­out ques­tion,” he tells us, “in ev­ery sin­gle in­stance, I’ve gone to the best gar­ment pro­duc­ers in the world. Maybe you could ar­gue that there’s one bet­ter pro­ducer for suits, but you’d be look­ing at a $20,000 start­ing price.”

The money talk would be pre­ten­tious were it not for the fact that Ed­die speaks with­out pre­tense. Like his brand, he’s straight up – what you see is what you get – and the hard sell isn’t his style. “He’s ac­tu­ally the anti-sales­man,” says Con­stance. “If a client doesn’t ab­so­lutely love the prod­uct, he’s not in­ter­ested in forc­ing the sit­u­a­tion.” Speak­ing through his sig­na­ture smirk, Ed­die chimes in. “You’ve got to pay the bills. I’ve just made the prod­uct good enough that it sells it­self.”

Not that Ed­die and David don’t roll out the red car­pet for their clients. The ser­vice they of­fer is more or less ap­point­ment only, but no ap­point­ment time – whether it’s 5am on a Sun­day morn­ing, or 8pm on a Tues­day night – is out of the ques­tion. Once you cross the thresh­old, you are the sole fo­cus. “I had a guy

“I was do­ing style con­sul­ta­tions at my clients’ houses and I’d see Prada suits hang­ing in their wardrobes. That told me it wasn’t the price point they were afraid of...”

come through a cou­ple of week­ends ago and when I looked at the clock, four hours had passed,” says David. “I couldn’t be­lieve it.”

The highly per­son­alised ser­vice doesn’t be­gin and end on the shop floor. Every­thing in the col­lec­tion is hand­made by skilled ar­ti­sans in work­shops around France and North­ern Italy, and if a be­spoke or­der is placed, Ed­die will send photo up­dates to the client through­out the pro­duc­tion process. The cam­era roll on his phone is full of ex­am­ples – hun­dreds of im­ages of E. von Dadel­szen gar­ments be­ing man­u­fac­tured in the work­shops where Bot­tega Veneta, Lan­vin and Valentino goods are made. “In terms of pro­duc­tion, you re­ally can have what­ever you want if you’re pre­pared to spend a for­tune,” says Ed­die. “So we did.”

The de­signer’s bags are cre­ated by a fam­ily-run man­u­fac­turer that, for four gen­er­a­tions, has been in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing leather goods for Her­mès. “I was there in Jan­uary and there were Birkins and Kelly bags piled up on the floor,” he says. “This guy – who looked like a crazy old pro­fes­sor – was hold­ing one and he just threw it on the heap. I was like ‘oh my God!’”

While Ed­die con­sid­ers it a priv­i­lege to work with such ex­pe­ri­enced crafts­men, it’s crit­i­cal to him that his prod­ucts are true to his vi­sion – and he’s very spe­cific about what that means. “Every­thing has to have sex ap­peal, it doesn’t work oth­er­wise.” Things are set to get a whole lot sex­ier come Novem­ber, when the first E. von Dadel­szen col­lec­tion for women is re­leased. Sen­sual and so­phis­ti­cated, it’s a tight edit of women’s es­sen­tials – in­clud­ing sleek tai­lored

sep­a­rates, chic shirt­ing, and lin­gerie made in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lux­ury French brand, Mise en Cage. “There’s def­i­nitely noth­ing like it in the New Zealand mar­ket,” says Ed­die who, despite hav­ing been in busi­ness less than a year, has been dream­ing of this segue since day one. “My brand is like my life,” he pro­fesses. “It’s not com­plete with­out women.”

Ev­i­dently, no woman is more im­por­tant to Ed­die than Con­stance – his muse and un­of­fi­cial cre­ative con­sul­tant. “In terms of tai­lor­ing, I def­i­nitely bring an in­ter­est­ing point of view to wom­enswear,” says Ed­die, who was cre­ative di­rec­tor at New Zealand suit­ing spe­cial­ist, Work­ing Style, for seven years. “But the col­lec­tion wouldn’t ex­ist with­out her, she’s in­spired me 100 per­cent.” In­deed, much of the women’s col­lec­tion is based on vin­tage pieces from Con­stance’s wardrobe. “On our last trip to Europe, Ed­die got me to take over sev­eral things that I adore, and we worked with the pat­tern mak­ers to take cer­tain el­e­ments and make them new again,” she says.

Ed­die’s first menswear col­lec­tion came about in a sim­i­lar way. “I just built my dream wardrobe, and it is. Apart from the quilted leather puffer jacket – I look re­ally stupid in it.” It’s clear that this dis­clo­sure is painful. Un­til the gar­ment in ques­tion, Con­stance had never seen Ed­die look bad in any­thing, and ap­par­ently, nei­ther had he. “He stood in the mir­ror and it was like it didn’t com­pute,” she laughs. “He couldn’t fathom the fact that he didn’t look amaz­ing in a gar­ment he’d cre­ated.”

It might not suit him, but the puffer jacket has been a hit with cus­tomers, proof that Ed­die knows what he’s do­ing. He cred­its Work­ing Style for his well-honed eye. “They put me on a plane to Mi­lan when I was 22. So now I’m 31, but I feel about 45 in buy­ing years.” To­wards the end of his ten­ure at Work­ing Style, Ed­die wit­nessed a shift in men’s at­ti­tudes to fash­ion, which gave him the con­fi­dence to launch his brand. “I was do­ing style con­sul­ta­tions at my clients’ houses and I’d see Prada suits hang­ing in their wardrobes. That told me it wasn’t the price point they were afraid of, there just wasn’t any­one lo­cally that was do­ing it. I turned 30 and that was that. I had to go.”

There are still some hang­overs from the old job. “I can’t do pat­terned shirts now,” he laughs. “And you will have no­ticed it’s not par­tic­u­larly cor­po­rate in here.” In­deed, the Nat Cheshire-de­signed show­room is dark and moody. “I wanted it to feel like a tem­ple,” ex­plains Ed­die, point­ing out a set of lights cal­i­brated to em­u­late per­fect day­light. Klein Blue pil­lars add vis­ual in­ter­est, along with a smat­ter­ing of vol­canic rocks sourced from Mount Taranaki. Their raw­ness, he says, suits the trans­parency of the brand – and per­haps his own un­fil­tered na­ture?

“I’m loose and be­have badly and say stupid shit,” he agrees. “Dave on the other hand is very for­mal and knowl­edge­able and tech­ni­cal, so be­tween the two of us there’s a nice equi­lib­rium.” It’s just as well – Ed­die has big plans for the brand. “We ab­so­lutely want to push this con­cept off­shore. I can see it work­ing in Los Angeles, maybe in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney too – al­though Aus­tralians are no­to­ri­ous for hat­ing New Zealand busi­nesses,” he says. “I’m lucky I’ve got a fancy sound­ing last name.”

Ed­die knows Mi­lan like the back of his hand. For his in­sider’s guide, visit­lanMustDos

@e.von­dadel­szen | dadel­

Clockwise from left: Ed­ward von Dadel­szen with girl­friend Con­stance Cum­mings; Ed­ward and Hen­riGe­orges Zaks of Parisian leather man­u­fac­turer, Seraphin; the E. von Dadel­szen show­room was de­signed by Cheshire Ar­chi­tects; re­tail di­rec­tor David McNeill;...

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