Staging their first runway display last season was a gamble for Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre, who produce their brand from their Brussels apartment while juggling side gigs. Fortunately it paid off, with buyers lining up to meet with the designers, who are known for their sensual, size-inclusive creations.
“We’re much more relaxed this time around,” Delepierre said just before their fall show in Paris. “It’s great to see the buzz around the brand, and it’s also the fact that we’ve found our creative groove.”
That’s why, despite the switch of seasons, they stuck with their formula of sheer ruched dresses and peephole knit pieces, shown on women of different sizes. For Manas, there’s a militant undertone to the celebration of the female body, in all its voluptuous, fleshy glory.
Cleavage-enhancing bra tops and side-slit skirts accentuated the curves of the models, a mix of professionals and friends of the brand. Conscious that their trademark ruching can be a little bouncy, the duo explored alternatives including a black waffle effect fabric, which worked equally well on a low-slung midi skirt or a bandeau-like mini. Strips of ruched fabric were assembled diagonally, and loosened with slits, on an orange vest dress with an asymmetric fishtail train.
Stocked by less than 10 retailers, including The Webster and Ssense, the line should soon gain broader distribution. The designers appear to have turned their backs for now to the tailored pieces that were previously part of their lineup, perhaps because these are harder to produce in a one-size-fits-all mold.
Having a strong signature look will no doubt help attract new customers, but it does limit their reach to those who feel confident enough to carry off these body-positive designs. Their website also offers more standard merch like sweatshirts, but perhaps there is room for something in-between.