La­bels to love

The fu­ture of fash­ion (and our wardrobes) looks bright, thanks to a host of ex­cit­ing new de­sign­ers. Meet the la­bels you’ll want to wear

ELLE (UK) - - Contents - Words Bibby Sowray

Meet the young de­sign­ers breath­ing new life into to­day’s fash­ion


‘I had no idea who Margiela was. I barely knew McQueen,’ says Y/Project Cre­ative Di­rec­tor Glenn Martens of his fash­ion knowl­edge when he be­gan to study de­sign at the pres­ti­gious Royal Acad­emy of Fine Arts An­twerp a decade ago.

Orig­i­nally from Bruges, Bel­gium, he had a de­gree in in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture un­der his belt but, feel­ing too young to en­ter the pro­fes­sional world, de­cided to give fash­ion de­sign a go. ‘I went to the in­ter­view with a port­fo­lio full of chairs and fur­ni­ture. I never thought about the fact I would have to sew,’ he says from Y/Project’s Paris stu­dio. He grad­u­ated first in his class in 2008, walked straight into a job at Jean Paul Gaultier and also started an epony­mous brand, which de­buted at Paris Fash­ion Week in 2012 and ran for three sea­sons.

It was in 2013 that Martens heard from menswear brand Y/Project, which had been founded by French de­signer Yo­han Ser­faty and busi­ness part­ner Gilles Elalouf in 2010. Ser­faty passed away, and Elalouf was look­ing for a new helms­man. After join­ing, Martens im­me­di­ately added a wom­enswear line, and the brand’s profile rock­eted. It’s been cred­ited with spark­ing the sense of revo­lu­tion that’s cur­rently hap­pen­ing within the in­dus­try, along­side fel­low French brands such as Vête­ments and Jac­que­mus, all of whom have bro­ken through the strict Parisian sys­tem once solely ruled by older, iconic houses.

‘We ask cus­tomers to think about what they see,’ Martens says of Y/Project. ‘We ask them what they want to own, and what they want to be­come.’ The

SS17 col­lec­tion is full of adapt­able pieces (pic­tured, above and right), in cel­e­bra­tion of women in the world. ‘There’s streetwear next to vel­vet cock­tail dresses, next to uni­sex pieces. We take in­spi­ra­tion from wher­ever we want, whether it’s sub­cul­ture or a his­tor­i­cal era. It’s an eclec­tic melting pot.’

The next step for the brand is to add footwear and ac­ces­sories, but Martens wants to keep the fun fac­tor. ‘I hope peo­ple can see that there are a lot of jokes and per­son­al­ity in the clothes. In­side any com­pany, you need fun, or you can’t deal with the stress. Take it easy.’ What bet­ter motto to live life by than that? YPROJECT.FR

‘We spent the whole week­end with paint brushes!’ says Cheshire-born Rix, who met McCloskey, from North­ern Ire­land, while they were study­ing Fash­ion Man­age­ment at the Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion. ‘We’d never in­tended Rixo to be a print-heavy brand, but the re­ac­tion to our first two prints was so great that we said, “We can ac­tu­ally do this our­selves.”’

Once the prints were placed on their silk ‘Camel­lia’ dress – a breezy midi-length style with blou­son sleeves and side-splits – a sell-out was born, beloved for its dress-up, dress-down ver­sa­til­ity. ‘Peo­ple have got be­hind the story of the brand and the fact it’s me and Or­lagh do­ing ev­ery­thing from our home,’ adds Rix. ‘It’s not trend-led at all: we want cus­tomers to sim­ply see a dress and fall in love with it.’

Rixo has grand plans for the fu­ture: an es­sen­tials range, hand­bags, ac­ces­sories, jew­ellery and even a con­cept store are all on the cards. And we don’t doubt for a sec­ond that McCloskey and Rix will achieve it all.

Silk blouse, £185, viscose trousers, £155, both Rixo

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