Esteban Cortazar with his collection at Net-A-Porter HQ
This week Net-A-Porter launch their second exclusive line with Bogotá-born Paris-based designer Esteban Cortazar. If you don't recognise that name quite yet - for Mr Cortazar coolly flies just that inch or two below the radar- then let us remind you. He's the 29 year old whizz kid who first entered fashion when aged 13 he presented sketches to Todd Oldham, and who was snaffled by Emanuel Ungaro in 2007 only to (very wisely) refuse to work any further for the brand as they installed Lindsay Lohan as an artistic director. Random? Hard to imagine? That kind of move could break a weaker designer, but not so for the super-talented Esteban.
Solange Knowles and Nicole Richie in Esteban Cortazar
In fact, this bizarre twist may have been a saving grace. Not long after Lohan-gate a certain Natalie Massanet called. Massanet, the founder of Net-A-Porter and now chairman of the British Fashion Council, had seen a spark in Cortazar and phoned him not long after he left the French fashion house (which, by the way, has continued to go through different designers faster than you can say miniskirt and has now landed with Fausto Puglisi - an Anna Dello Russo favourite).
“I know now what it is that I want to design. It takes a while to really work that out, but I think I get it now. I've made some bad decisions and some good ones,” admits Esteban, “Straight after I left, Natalie was the first person to get in touch and say lets work together. Her support is incredible.” And since then he has slowly but surely arranged his signature style via two very precise - and very delectable - capsule collections created just for the mega-site.
Esteban's second collection for Net-A-Porter
His strict lines and clean palette, clever fabrications and intricate layering put him into that luxury-in-simplicity category - the kind where the result looks restrained and understated, and yet months have been spent developing a particular cloth (like the incredible suck-it-all-in double cady that's been cleverly employed for the body-skimming black dresses) and nothing is as simple as it looks.
Along with tailoring and the most flattering sheath dresses you'll find, there's a more laid back and versatile slant to this second line. “This season has a significant sportswear injection, with mesh fabrics and these adaptable jacket-cape pieces,” he explains, “I’ve designed ‘base’ pieces to layer up with. Like the sleeveless long-length waistcoat could even look good over jeans and a t-shirt, but also really chic over the simple black cady dress. It instantly makes an outfit more interesting.”
It also includes jewellery and footwear
Solange Knowles has already picked up on Esteban’s skills: the best-dressed songstress chose a caped, white short-suit from the designer’s first Net-A-Porter collection for a very high profile dinner at the White House. But don't expect to see a flurry of celebrities wearing his creations any time soon. And not because they won't want to. “It's not really about dressing lots of celebrities but just the right women, I'm not so interested in that. Of course everyone dreams of having a dress at the Oscars, but...” Of course, with such red carpets catered for by the big guns, it's hard for these fabulous young'uns to get a good look in. However, with such wondrous clothes for all of the stylish thinking girls out there, we don't reckon he needs that A-list stamp of approval anyway.