faustine steinmetz’s meticulous metamorphosis elevates the everyday
Everything you need to know about Faustine Steinmetz autumn/winter 18.
Photography Mitchell Sams
From the moment the Paris-born, London-based designer launched her label in 2013, with her first handloom and little more than YouTube tutorials to guide her, Faustine Steinmetz has deconstructed and reconstructed, distressed and ornamented the most ubiquitous of everyday items and transformed them into elevated pieces that aren't just unrecognisable, they are otherworldly. After a series of acclaimed art-exhibition-style presentations which invited audiences to lose themselves in her carefully-crafted world, she made her LFW catwalk debut last season and discovered a new sense of creative freedom as a result. "I always said that I would never do a catwalk show because I didn't want the collections to be about the glamour, the girl or the beauty but in the end I was freed by it," Steinmetz explained back in September. It has not gone unnoticed. Before winning both the Woolmark Prize and Swarovski award, she reached the LVMH Prize final in 2015 and has just been named as one of the 20 semi-finalists for this year’s award.
“I love taking cliche clothes to reimagine them,” she reminded us post-show. “I find an item of clothing or an accessory that I’m drawn to, mostly vintage -- I’m always looking, whether in London or travelling -- and I’m inspired to experiment, using different techniques to totally transform them.” For autumn/winter 18, she took staples that everyone would recognise -- jeans, trenches, pencil skirts, slip dresses and cable knits -- alongside a few luxury favourites -- silk scarves, monogrammed boots, iconic designer bags -- only to reimagine them in her studio through a series of playful yet pinpoint processes of hand-craft, needle-felting, mohair-knitting and more. "We do everyday pieces but we treat them as if they were haute couture pieces. There are some pieces which we spent 30,000 hours on over the course of a month. They’re normally the most banal items because it gives me a contrast between the reality and my fantasy.”
In only her sophomore catwalk show, Steinmetz used her model line-up to cleverly demonstrate her process of deconstruction and reconstruction. Through each exit, we understood that bit more about her process. And what process! Beyond textiles and technique, it was her tongue-in-cheek transformations of Fendi’s Baguette bag -- first seen last season and pushed further for autumn/winter 18 -- alongside her appropriation and repositioning of the classic horse print Hermès scarf and examination of logomania. “I like to play around with the fact that I’m a brand,” Steinmetz explained. “I’d love to create a perfume and campaign around it. I already know what it would be but I can’t tell you any more.” Whether working in scent, garments or accessories, Faustine Steinmetz is guaranteed to shake-up your senses.
Photography Mitchell Sams