22 March 2010

One to Watch - Joseph Altuzarra

The latest hype from Noo Yoik is all about a certain Joseph Altuzarra, who has created quite a buzz following his nomination for the CFDA Swarovski womenswear award. Not least because, the fashion editor’s fashion editor, Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, wrote last week that European fashion houses were already eyeing the 25 year old Parisian-born wonderkid, "who in three or four seasons has provided the creative stretch that runway mavens look for? Whose name is mentioned quietly among European houses as someone to watch and, maybe eventually, design or advise behind the scenes? And who keeps a bit of a distance from the pack? Beyond the CFDA awards night on June 7, I would keep my eye on Mr. Altuzarra."

Unlike London, where designers leaving college climb their way through several layers of off-schedule/on-schedule shows before become acknowledged by the press and buyers, New York is tough – commercial viability is taken very seriously and at Fashion Week there is no place for outlandish experimentation.

After three seasons (less than two years) of showing, the New York designer is presenting collections that, everyone agrees show a confidence that well warrants his reputation as one to watch. His training ground was a six-month internship at Marc Jacobs, before working as a freelance design assistant for Proenza Schouler, and working alongside Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy. He  launched his eponymous line in Spring 2009.

Altuzarra didn’t even study fashion originally – he studied Art History before applying to Marc Jacobs on impulse. They say great taste can’t be taught though, and since he cites Helmut Lang and Jil Sander among his inspiration - “they never got into anything too theme-y. It was all about making clothes that were just functional and attractive. I like working that way” - we know he's in tune with the idea of serious clothes.

His lauded A/W’10 collection, with sleek shapes in a clash of texture and some seriously fierce red eveningwear, certainly took some influence from the minimalist school of thought which New York always does so well – although we can’t help thinking that those straps and buckles, not to mention the shaggy goat hair, injected a generous dose of rock n’ roll into proceedings. A name to remember indeed.

- Naomi Attwood


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