Lutz Huelle nailed his one-off collection for AZ Factory as its latest guest “amigo,” perfectly capturing the offhand couture look pioneered by its late founder Alber Elbaz.
The brisk pacing of his show, staged amid the hit Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori exhibition at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, also felt correct for a here-then-gone collaboration. The collection is expected to go on sale in February.
There were unexpected puffs of volume at the top of elbow-length gloves, worn casually like mittens, and rings of ruffles spilling off a T-shirt, encircling the waist or causing a commotion around the knees of swimsuit-like jumpsuits.
Huelle, who has been showing his signature brand in Paris since 2000, brought a wealth of experience and skill to the project, seen in the smooth cut of blurred floral raincoats and dusters, the ultra-cool, dressy-looking jeans, and the sharp tuxedo tailoring that opened the display.
He has a knack for giving approachable clothes and accessories visual oomph: Denim shirts and jackets came zhuzhed up with panels of sequins; T-shirts and jeans were fronted with big crystals, and shirts were cut large to catch the wind in the back, like parachutes.
Huelle poured out for his bow with the entire AZ Factory studio, all smiling and laughing. “In the end, it was just about the joy of wearing clothes,” he said.
AZ’s first collaborators in the wake of the founder’s passing in April 2021 were Thebe Magugu and Esther Manas.
Richemont has been fine-tuning and elaborating the strategy and business model at AZ Factory, which retains Elbaz’s central idea of “smart fashions that care” launched via product “stories” rather than collections.
It recently said future guest creators would include recent graduates and high-potential students, plus left-field creatives not directly related to fashion, such as DJs.