For their debut couture collection, Area designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk used almost half a million Swarosvki crystals — but what else did you expect from a brand that puts its signature crystal trim on everything from puffer jackets to high-heeled shoes?
Coming on the heels of Paris Couture Week, the online presentation was the fruit of a recent restructuring of the label’s collections to a see-now-buy-now schedule. That gave the designers more time to work on their bespoke creations, worn by the likes of Zendaya, Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande and members of girl group Blackpink.
The designs were inspired by ancient civilizations, and shown on two models, one of which was plus-sized. “For us, it was really important to showcase what tailoring and craft can be on different bodies,” Panszcyzk explained.
That was true of even their most experimental pieces: body-conscious dresses, loosely inspired by the necklaces worn by Ndebele women in South Africa, that encased the body in padded tubes covered with crystals in subtle color gradients.
The glittering stones were also used in more fluid ways, for instance on dresses made of thousands of organza tags that were all individually finished by hand with a crystal trim. Graphic fringes cascaded from the hems of the fluffy gowns and matching hair pieces, evoking the coin headdresses of Morocco’s Berber women.
Keen to demonstrate their range, the designers also worked on sculptured accordion dresses that were slashed on the side — an homage to great couturiers like Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Unlike traditional Paris couture houses, Area offers the custom pieces to be ordered online and works from custom mannequins based on clients’ measurements. “It’s about also expanding the network of what a couture client is exactly. The whole process needs to be modernized, it needs to be more accessible,” Fogg said.
“We’re showing it on a range of sizes, but also in terms of who perceives that it’s even possible to buy couture. Most people don’t even know how to go about it, and so I think for us, it’s really all about looking at that process. It should be on our website, as well. People should understand how they can come to buy a piece if they want to,” she said.
Amid a wave of new designers using new technologies and upcycling to update couture, the concept stood out as radically simple. Couture.com never looked so good.