LABEL OF LUXE
Edward von Dadelszen’s luxury offerings are in a league of their own, says Phoebe Watt
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, visit FQ.co.nz/MilanMustDos
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;...