Launched in 1999 by Nadja Swarovski, the Collective supports 150 emerging and established designers, as they aim to use the Austrian-made crystals in inventive ways. This is the third edition of the prize. Previous winners were Rosie Assoulin and Peter Pilotto.
Steinmetz said winning the award made her feel validated as a designer. “It gives you opportunities to do things as a young designer — with, obviously, the money as well. That’s so important,” said Steinmetz.
She plans to funnel the prize winnings into her production and, in particular, bring more weavers on board. Steinmetz currently produces her range in Africa and designs in London, and said she is keeping an open mind in terms of other geographic areas for production.
“At the moment, we are working on setting up production in different countries that have fair trade,” said Steinmetz, adding that she’s open to exploring new locations, providing she can find sustainable production. “We are looking for places where we can trust people and make sure that things are done the right way. For us, that’s the most important thing.”
With the uncertainty of Brexit, the designer said that production remains a big question mark. “It depends how it’s going to go with the trade deals,” said Steinmetz. “The problem is that the more you make in the U.K., the more the product is expensive. It does add a lot to the final customer. But I think Brexit is really going to influence what happens.”
She said working with the Austrian crystal maker was an amazing experience that’s “built around the designers.”
Steinmetz looked to sculptures, rocks and the crystal formation process and wanted to design a pair of jeans as if they were crystallized throughout time. “It is really about taking this beautiful crystal and counterbalancing it with all the seams that were breaking — sort of a very destroyed look,” said Steinmetz. “Because it will be an interesting way to present the crystals.”
She said some pieces, such as a pair of denim jeans, took up to three weeks to create. A pair of high-waist jeans made with hand-woven denim featured embroidered yarns that are typically used to sew denim. The same pair was festooned with indigo-hued crystals that covered the jeans entirely, giving them a weight of about 11 pounds.
More From WWD: