German-born shoe designer Burak Uyan (below) grew up with an architect father and Helmut Lang as his hero. As such, his design philosophy—“I just want to create beautiful, wearable art”—is less cliché than destiny. Taking color cues from the work of artist Gerhard Richter and architectural lines from Tadao Ando and Oscar Niemeyer, Paris-based Uyan’s second collection of exquisitely crafted, exotically fabricated creations (featuring both karung snake and llamaskin) are like sculptures for the feet. But the Givenchy veteran swears he also has a practical side, insisting, “I try to achieve the highest comfort possible” (net-a-porter.com).
When Justin Kern and Stephanie Danan (below) launched Co, a collection of refined basics, they were clear on one thing: They didn’t want to have a fashion show. Instead, the couple decided to draw on their backgrounds in film—she’s a producer; he’s a producer-screenwriter—and make a movie trailer about a woman (Elodie Bouchez) torn between two men (Kern and musician-actor Henry Gummer) who ultimately chooses herself (needless to say, all the while impeccably attired). Directed by Daryl Wein, the short has a sophisticated, sun-drenched Seventies feel that jibes perfectly with the clothes: tailored silk blouses, pencil skirts, slouchy cashmere knits, and some seriously natty furs, including a fetching cape that Bouchez insouciantly throws on for an evening out with friends. “We created the line as we wrote the movie,” says Danan. “The clothes came from the character, who’s a real, complex woman, so they’re luxurious but practical” (co-collections.com).
Let’s be clear: Umit Benan (below), the Turkish-raised, Milan-based designer (and newly appointed fashion consultant at Trussardi) does men’s wear—but that’s no obstacle for women who frequent the men’s department for the ultimate “watch me pull this off” cachet. The designer’s first female convert was his own Milan publicist, Noona Smith-Petersen (left), a Danish beauty with an Olympic swimmer’s build. “My size 48 suit fit her better than it did me,” Benan says. But Nordic proportions are not a prerequisite. Benan’s size 44 suit, originally cut for slim Japanese men, fits slender women like a glove. Once fashion plate Anna Dello Russo became a client, wearing his sleek tuxedo to a Gucci men’s fashion show, the news spread like hot butter. Benan, who does not alter the proportions of his suits at all for his female customers, offers one of the purest takes on masculine dressing. “If women want a feminine suit, they can go to Valentino or Céline,” he says. “If they want real men’s wear, they come to me” (umitbenan.com).
Paris’s latest design darling arrived in France at age four, having fled China with her parents after 1989’s Tiananmen Square protests. Now 26, Yiqing Yin (below) says she has always felt “like an alien”—a disposition that seems to only spur her creativity and drive. Her extravagantly pleated dresses won Paris’s Grand Prize for Design last year and earned her the First Collection prize at this year’s ANDAM fashion awards, France’s equivalent to the CFDAs. She spent the summer working 20-hour days at her atelier near the Marais, dreaming up costumes for a production of Donizetti’s opera La Favorite, and completing a 22-piece collection for her debut at Paris’s fall couture shows. Created with a small team of schoolmates from Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, it featured dragon scales in Swarovski Elements, vertebrae in Saga mink and fox—and, of course, plenty of meticulously sculpted pleating (yiqingyin.com).
Listening to Alexandria Hilfiger and Nary Manivong (below) discuss their new line, NAHM, is a bit like hearing a couple describe their romantic trajectory. The pair met in fall 2008, when Manivong attended a dinner at Hilfiger’s house. Soon she was helping style the shows for his namesake fashion label. In 2010 Manivong suspended the brand but, he says of Hilfiger, “I didn’t want to lose her.” So the duo decided to go into business together. “Dating, engagement, marriage, having a baby—that’s kind of like the emotional process we went through,” Hilfiger says, laughing. On the advice of Hilfiger’s dad, Tommy, the duo opted for a tight focus: the shirtdress. Their debut collection remakes the classic frock with avant-garde twists and unexpected details: a full-skirted tuxedo minidress is done in silk satin–faced organza and a looser style is rendered in sexy black mesh. For next spring they plan to add prints to the mix, taking inspiration from early-Seventies Laos and the glam French expat scene there. Building off of a single silhouette, says Hilfiger, “pushes your creative boundaries” (nahm-ny.com).
Jonathan William Anderson (below) loves fashion that seems a bit off. Take, for instance, the white rubber clerical collars that topped off the sweaters in his fall women’s wear collection, or the paisley pinafore worn with matching pants, or the tufts of shearling that sprouted like whiskers from his work boots. “You have to think about how far to push things while maintaining a taste level,” says the Irish-born designer, who honed his forward-thinking, thrillingly perverse aesthetic while working under legendary stylist Manuela Pavesi at Prada. And while a little weirdness has always appealed to Anderson, androgyny—a tag that has stuck with him since he launched his women’s line last year from the rib of his four-year-old men’s label—does not. “It stirs up stale sexual imagery,” he explains. “I see my clothes more as utilitarian: a white shirt, trousers, a kilt. And yes, they’re malleable between a man and a woman, which I think is modern” (j-w-anderson.com).
Since its debut in 2008, Christopher Raeburn’s sporty outerwear, meticulously crafted from dead-stock fabrics and military-issued materials, has attracted legions of fans—among them Swiss cutlery-plus brand Victorinox, which tapped the British designer (left) to create a capsule collection for fall. Called Remade in Switzerland, it consists of eight pieces fashioned from national military surplus: an Officer’s Parka, made from sleeping bag outers; a Recruit’s Cap, cut from wool jackets and cotton bedsheets; a Horseshoe Nail Swiss Army Knife, cast from smelted horseshoe nails and repackaged in the same paper box that once held them. By virtue of the materials used, each item comes in a limited edition of 100. “It’s just a few pieces, done perfectly,” Raeburn says (remadeinswitzerland.com).