PARIS — With physical formats dominating the Paris men’s fashion week schedule, ANDAM winner Bianca Saunders leads the crop of labels making their entrance on the calendar for fall 2022.
Last year’s ANDAM fashion prize winner Bianca Saunders is making her Paris debut with her first solo runway show this season on Wednesday, regardless of the challenging border control situation between France and the U.K.
“I’ve always had that vision. I want to become a household name. Being in Paris is what really gives you more international credibility,” Saunders told WWD in an interview during which she revealed her five-year plan, which includes working more in Paris and eventually moving her operation there. Before Paris, she showcased her collections with the British Fashion Council’s Newgen program in London.
The fall 2022 collection will be an ode to timeless beauty, and will showcase her experiments with cut, movement of the clothes, and how they interact with the body, the designer revealed.
Expect some sharp jackets, coats and trousers, as well as some leather and denim pieces with her signature rolled-shoulder design.
Meta Campania Collective
A drive through a village on the Amalfi coast is how Meta Campania Collective got its name, according to co-creative director Jon Strassburg, who founded the brand with Heiko Keinath and Constanze Walcher.
“The village’s name of ‘Meta’ just struck me as the name of the brand we were eventually going to start,” he said, admiring its four-letter simplicity and the just-right feeling, owing to the region’s role as a magnet for artists through the centuries.
Adding “Campania” was a tongue-in-cheek nod to established luxury brands and their birth city names, and “collective” completed the name in a reference to the creative circles it moves in.
While the brand’s moniker came long before Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, was renamed, the cofounders happily embrace the coincidence, with Strassburg noting their interest in technology and belief that “there is a bridge of sorts between the extremely artisanal to the future.”
But unlike the tech conglomerate, Meta Campania Collective is firmly on the physical side. Now in its second season, the label continues to explore utility flavored with canny details that will appeal to the detail-obsessed, like the construction of a collar that avoids the unseemly puckering that feels inevitable in shirts.
And not only is their style a take on the well-worn wardrobe of artists, but the ASMR qualities of the label’s luxurious materials catch attention, from the satisfying smack of a calfskin leather bag on the table to the whisper of a car coat’s cotton crinkling in the hand — even through Zoom’s less-than-ideal acoustics.
For Taiwan-based brothers Richard, Michael and Steve Hsieh, fashion wasn’t necessarily on the cards as a career plan. The first studied biology, the second psychology and the third was in civil engineering.
But threads were certainly a thing that was often discussed in the family — with their father, too. “We’ve always been really into fashion and always talked about it with [him] as well,” they said on a Zoom call. Hence why they called their brand Namesake — and “In the Name of the Father” in Chinese — as a “way to contribute to [their] family’s legacy.”
Basketball, another shared passion, is where they mine the inspiration for the brand, which showed its first collection in January 2020, mere weeks before the pandemic shut everything down. But that didn’t stop them from acquiring a healthy retail following that includes Dover Street Market, Ssense, SKP and Browns, which were attracted to its unusual mix of sporty gear and urban utility, with a dash of preppiness.
For fall 2022, the Hsieh brothers thought back to a seminal moment of their adolescence, when the school’s marching band galvanized its basketball team on the way to the season’s last championship game. “We lost that [match], but I still remember how music and jazz brought all of us together,” said Steve, naming musician Andre 3000 and 1970s New Orleans as stylistic cues.
Also worth noting, while the brand is still in its infancy, the brothers are no fashion newcomers. Since 2013, they’ve been at the helm of noted Taipei concept store NE.SENSE, which stocks the likes of ERL, Casablanca and Y/Project alongside Rick Owens and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus.
Born and raised in Paris, designer Arthur Robert fell into the indigo crowd as a teenager. “It amused me because there’s a very geeky side to denim, with very specific knowledge. There is a real culture with forums and sites where fans share their custom washes,” he said, adding that his early fascination with Hedi Slimane-era Dior Homme turned into a love affair with fashion.
After a decade mostly spent at Ami, and later designing for other brands, Robert felt the desire to start telling his own story, especially around his love of workwear and denim.
But first he wanted something that would hold up to his habit of cycling around the city. “I’d find myself divine when I set off from home and when I’d arrive, I’d look like a fool,” said the designer, who was after looks that were “strong fashion-wise but not precious.”
For the inaugural collection of Ouest Paris, named after his familial roots in southwestern France, Robert infused the contemporary male wardrobe with notions taken from traditional regional garments where “male clothes can feature volumes, pleating and even ornaments, albeit sober ones — all elements usually assigned to a more feminine aesthetic.”
The result is eye-catching but accessible — in style as well as price, with denim expected to stay under 200 euros and coats around the 800-euro mark.
With his MA in men’s wear fashion design from London College of Fashion under his belt, Steven Passaro had just moved back to Paris to escape the worst consequences of Brexit when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown ensued.
The designer ended up “sewing his first collection alone in his basement,” as he put it humorously, trying to figure out how to best approach this new reality.
“That’s how I put in place my pipeline using 3D software for pattern and product development, before making a single prototype,” an approach that is as much a philosophy against waste as it is the frugal choice of a young designer on a budget.
Although he defines the tenets of his label as “tailoring and technology,” Passaro admits to being obsessed with the “complexity of fabric, of living materials” and the techniques used to shape them. Take couture details, which he wanted to apply to men’s wear, in an approach that “ultimately negates the notion of gender” in a garment.
Cue a fall 2022 collection inspired by the “intense, almost violent” sensations experienced by those with hypersensitivity, where Passaro explores trompe-l’oeil layering applied to trenchcoats, cape jackets and pleating that telegraphs his vision of “the fold as a metaphor for different facets of the self, always in motion.”
Beyond the season, Passaro is also working on “Act of Growth,” which allows clients to bring back garments to be revamped by the brand. “Refreshing items — adding a panel here, modifying a seam there — reduces consumption but still feeds the need for newness,” he said.