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Rising Stars - Paris Fashion Week’s bright young things

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The notoriously chic City of Lights has a few recent inductees under its sky, plus a couple of bright, young newbies showing at Paris Fashion Week for the first time this season.  Here are a few to look out for, ahead of their big debuts.

Yang Li

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AW13 will be Li’s first time showing his two seasons-old collection in Paris.  One of a brave new breed of young Chinese designers choosing a non-traditional design path, Li admits that there are “no obvious Chinese references” in his work, but his heritage and identity do come through.  Perhaps in the modest shapes, elongated proportions, regal skirts and limited palette that give off a cosmopolitan Chinoiserie feel.  Inspiration to start a career in fashion came on the basketball court where urban tribes and sporty simplicity caught his eye, leading to a design education, a scholarship to Central Saint Martin’s and internships with Gareth Pugh and later Raf Simons.  His simple, singular approach to design is seen throughout the collection, with the exception of expensive hand finishings and fine fabrics added to create a high-end look with a razor sharp edge that led to a feature in i-D.  SS13 was predominantly white, black and red, with skinny suits, biker jackets, minimalist crop tops with flowing back panels, leather and mesh creating a darkly modern mood with a cool sense of formality. 

Steffie Christiaens

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Having paid her dues at the ateliers of Balenciaga and then Maison Martin Margiela, Christiaens first showed at Paris Fashion Week for AW 2011-12 with inspiration drawn from the elements and the natural ravages of nature.  Harnessed into controlled, mindful pieces, draped and tailored into structured looks with a futuristic edge, her signature is a gentle battle between masculine and feminine.  

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Organic but stringent.  SS13 had an apocalyptic muse - melting ice caps and the natural cycle of life and death were played out beautifully in iridescent silk pastels and crisp white cotton.  Relaxed suiting, cascading draping and cocooning jackets were shown against more avant garde looks with architectural pleating and sci-fi-inspired headwear.  Expect her next offering to be just as technically masterful, with easy separates and statement dresses in experimental fabrics, in both monochrome and light tones.


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Although comprised of Menswear and Womenswear collections, 22/4 is androgynous and unisex on both sides of the spectrum.  Taking its name from the basic mathematical equation ‘2+2=4’, formal tailoring is taken to exacting ends with waistcoats, shirts and blazers constructed with subtle yet surprising details.  Their last Menswear collection was the label’s first to be shown on Paris catwalks and the upcoming Womenswear presentation promises to be another display of incredible technical ability and superior fabrication.  

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But before you imagine stiflingly svelte silhouettes and constricting collars, there is an easy wear-ability about the collection.  Double breasted blazers and tuxedo jackets are as ceremonial as they come, but paired with matching city shorts the whole idea is suddenly a little less daunting.  Wide leg trousers, shirtdresses and flowing maxis manage to fit in with the sharpness of tailored suiting, creating something formal yet fanciful.  The concept for SS13 was the work of photographers August Sander and Irving Penn’s visuals of workers’ clothes, with an edgy twist of course.  More concealed features, calculated constructions and traditional fabrics will be in store for AW13, the question is what cleverly integrated concept will be behind the gender-blurring autumn collections.

Glenn Martens

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This Belgium-born designer previewed his line at Paris Fashion Week in February 2012, after an illustrious design career spent working for the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier.  His signature style is immediately recognisable as graphic and structural, with a gentler side introduced with softer fabrics and delicate prints.  SS13 had a gothic street wear appeal about it, with baggy pants, floor length maxis and sweatshirt styles worn with skull-printed dresses, sheer tops and Doc Martens.  

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The relaxed street chic, ‘90’s flair and boyish simplicity are sure to remain a feature of Marten’s eponymous line for AW13, with edgy separates in dark tones highlighted with prints and textures that balance the androgyny with just the right amount of feminine sophistication.

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