Eleanor Balfour has officially launched her signature collection exclusively on The Platform at Moda Operandi.
The designer is one of a few being supported via the new platform. She first sold to the e-commerce site via a trunk show last year. After attending Central Saint Martins, Balfour worked for Figue and Oscar de la Renta before starting her own company last year. Her namesake label is also sold via her own site. In future seasons, she plans to sell her designs, which retail from $400 to $2,000 to specialty stores.
During a phone interview from Venice Friday where she planned to check out the Biennale and was in search of a little inspiration for her next collection, Balfour spoke of her international upbringing and her career. Raised in England, she often visited her mother’s family in Kärnten, Austria, where she and her cousins would take the one-hour train ride to Venice. “I haven’t been here in years so I’m sort of seeing it with a new view of everything,” Balfour said.
New York has been her base city for the past seven years, but she is now dividing her time between New York and London. “It will be a bit more trans-Atlantic. I am really catering to the girl who I am designing for. She travels a lot. I know what she wants to wear from a hot country to a cold country, and how versatile you can make pieces,” Balfour said.
For spring, two mesh dresses, including one with a detachable black origami-type bow, are early favorites. Balfour plans to continue to offer variations of the top-selling “Xenia” shirtdress with a mandarin collar. To refresh the item, it will be offered in different fabrics and trims from one season to the next. “Every girl wears it in a different way. You wear it closed and it’s like a ballgown, or you can wear it open with jeans as my friends who are buyers do for meetings,” she said.
Pointing to de la Renta as a key influence, Balfour said he often sketched while a model walked back and forth with his whole team so that they would see what needed to be tweaked. “He was very, very involved and I thought that was beautiful how you saw that. He really liked seeing how things moved on a woman,” she said. “I also liked the way at Oscar de la Renta you had to explore fabrics and experiment with them.”
Figue’s Stephanie von Watzdorf has been a mentor of Balfour and is someone she remains in touch with. “My designs are very different to hers. She’s very gypsy, jet set, caftans but she really isn’t afraid of embellishment. That’s’ really stuck with me so every season I change my trims,” she said.