THE ONES TO WATCH
PARIS — Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have been charming the fashion pack here this week with their debut ready-to-wear collection, their identical stars-and-stripes-and-Levi’s outfits and their wry opinions on fashion. But they’re not the only young, non-French designers generating buzz in the melting pot that is Paris.
Up-and-comers Oscar Raajmakers and Suleyman Demir are another Dutch duo with a host of uncanny similarities to Horsting and Snoeren. Raajmakers and Demir, both 28, met in 1992 at the same fashion school that produced Viktor & Rolf, the Academy of the Arts in Arhnem.
Raajmakers and Demir also have earned a reputation for clothes that border on the conceptual. But they too have found a way to translate their ideas into chic, wearable clothes with an edge. For their fourth Oscar Suleyman collection, they toyed with classic bourgeois looks, trimming a smoking with satin piping, for example, and plumping up lace skirts with quilting. Sexy patchwork fur coats and dresses with raw edges were cut close to the body.
Raajmakers said he’s eager to see “Dutch chic” develop and gain commercial success, despite the absence of a fashion culture in the Netherlands and few production facilities. Oscar Suleyman designs are currently sold at Brown’s Focus in London.
Raajmakers said that he expects to collect orders from stores in the U.S. and Asia this season. “We are trying to find the balance between experiments and wearable outfits,” he added. “We want to present really hard-core feminine chic.”
Taking a more playful approach to fashion is German-born designer Bernhard Willhelm, who trained at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Art. Inspired by his childhood in Bavaria and its Black Forest, the 27-year-old Willhelm crossed folkloric elements with experimental cuts in his fall collection, which was showcased in a video screened at La Cigale, a concert hall in the heart of the Pigalle. The New Order and Talking Heads soundtrack set the tone for a collection full of Eighties references. Willhelm said he opted for a video presentation because “the skirts I showed need movement to fully understand how they work.” Thus the two girls jumping on a trampoline in skirts made of bands of ruffles which were bunched together at the waistline. It was an accomplished third collection.
Meanwhile, Irish designer Sharon Wauchaub mixed a Twenties silhouette with a Japanese sensibility for her fifth collection. Fashion has caught up with Wauchaub’s taste, which leans toward feminine looks with faintly retro airs and delicate detailing. For fall, these include cocoon-shape coats and jackets, voluminous skirts, pajama-like pantsuits and Lurex-shot tweeds, all shown with stockings and ballerina shoes.
Wauchaub already sells her clothes to several American stores, including Kirna Zabete in New York and Louis, Boston. Plus, her designs have already caught the attention of one famous, much-photographed clotheshorse, Mouna Ayoub, who attended the presentation.