Written by Sophia J. Gonzalez | September 2014
There are fashion prodigies, and then there’s Esteban Cortazar. The designer debuted his first collection at New York Fashion Week at the age of 17 - the youngest person ever to do so - before moving to Paris at 23 to take the helm of creative director at Emanuel Ungaro, where he remained for two years. More recently, he has released capsule collections for Net-a-Porter under his own name, earning him countless “comeback kid” monikers in the press. Now 30, still living in Paris and armed with new backers, Cortazar is preparing for a full relaunch of his namesake line. And the spring/summer 2015 show, which will be held tomorrow at his spacious Marais studio, is shaping up to be one of Paris Fashion Week’s most anticipated events.
The collection, seen for the first time here, represents a conceptual step forward for Cortazar. The designer says he felt a lot of “tension and uncertainty” over the past two years, a time in which he struggled to find investors to jump-start his label. “I just started to think about how I could make the fabrics feel the way I was feeling,” he says. Some pieces cling to the body like armor, while others unravel like paper streamers. Leather and metal hardware reference a favorite childhood activity of Cortazar’s, horseback riding at his family’s Colombian farm.
Cortazar likens the overall effect to a girl who “doesn’t want to be so immaculate anymore — so she releases herself completely.” And in that moment, he says, “that’s when she really finds herself.”
Written by Sophia J. Gonzalez | June 2014
For girls-about-downtown in the late ’90s and early aughts, Alice Roi was a patron saint. The lower-Manhattan-born-and-bred designer with the cool-kid persona created clothes that tempered a girlish sensibility with a subtle sense of humor. There were the “La Caricature” dresses, covered in an Honoré Daumier print of two snobs turning their noses at each other. There were the Yeti-like mohair jackets and the bare-shouldered tops with cutouts meant to resemble crewneck openings. The line was a cult hit until 2008, when Roi became a mom and not only shuttered her business but withdrew completely from the fashion world.
Eventually, Roi’s sabbatical stoked her urge to design again. “The sign of a true fashion addict is to look for references no matter where,” she says. Even a quick glance at her son’s toy trains would turn into design fodder. (“Those would be the coolest heels on shoes,” she recalls thinking.) Maybe it was a sign that the 2001 C.F.D.A. nominee for the Perry Ellis Award in women’s wear wasn’t meant to stay away. Now, after quietly introducing new styles to a small handful of stores over the last year, Roi, 38, is ready to reclaim her place in fashion with her 2015 resort collection — a full range of styles that marks the brand’s official relaunch. For the first time, Roi is reaching out to her audience directly through her own ’90s-nostalgic Instagram feed. A comprehensive update to her e-commerce site is also in the works.
At the look book shoot earlier this week, Roi, dressed in black with blue-black hair, nodded in the direction of a model wearing an outfit from the collection: a silk jersey top embellished with small pads and paired with flared cropped pants. Roi explained that the slinky top is meant to resemble a latex glove, a look inspired by rave-party style. Elsewhere, other discordant references abound: the Amish, the prairie and Ram Dass’s seminal book “Be Here Now,” one of the illustrations from which appears printed on a T-shirt. A Peter Pan collar softens a slick leather jacket, while a graphic checked skirt is offset by silver-tone studs.
A lot has changed in fashion since Roi’s last outing. Designers must contend with the speed of the Internet and a steady stream of smartphone-wielding editors and bloggers. But Roi is eager to figure out how to navigate the new landscape. “I’m finding the balance,” she says. “I’m finding the flow.”