The first time Clash spoke to French designer Faustine Steinmetz (here), it was sunny and warm and she was a newbie for NEWGEN, yet to affect the fashion elite with her debut presentation on the official London Fashion Week schedule.
Second time around the weather has turned and her label has just been named as one of only 26 shortlisted for the second ever LVMH prize. Her sophomore offering boasts new artistic techniques as well as collaborations with shoe designer Julia Thomas and creative director Lara Jensen.
When Clash steps into the BFC presentation space – a biggish side room type situation to the left of Somerset House – we’re handed an exhibition floor plan, dressed up as Steinmetz’s shownotes. Or is it the other way around?
Whatever. Post-show Faustine explained how it all came happened…
The LVMH shortlist was announced the day before your presentation. What was that like?
Since I got accepted on the Masters in Saint Martins, my policy is to always apply to everything I want no matter how out of reach it seems. But I really did not think that I could be chosen so it was a really great surprise; when you are a young designer encouragements are everything! I have to say though the best thing of all was to see my mum so excited because she saw my picture in the French national newspaper! She spent her day at work making photocopies for the whole family, hahaha!
This was your second season with NEWGEN, how did it compare to the first?
It's certainly easier in the respect that you know what to expect, you've met all the people at the BFC and it feels less daunting knowing the support that is there for you. At the same time there is a lot of extra pressure as you know exactly what is expected from you and you don't want to let them down after all the support that they have given you. This season we had a lot of extra support in the form of the CFE and COTTON USA. I feel like it's really important to have the right people around you who are going to guide you and just make things that much easier.
The Faustine Steinmetz aesthetic typically plays with everyday objects, but was there a specific influence for AW15?
I think I was very influenced by us growing as a brand and the pressing need to start making some pieces with less handwork on them, so it was time to wonder if I ever want to enter this fast fashion thing and how could I make it my way. That is why all the clothing is playing around the frontier between slow fashion and fast fashion, old craft and new techniques.
This season you’ve experimented with new techniques, most notably the silicone painted jeans. What drew you to the materials used?
It's what I enjoy, exploring new materials. This season I have been very inspired by Matthew Stone's way of imitating the old with new techniques, so I wanted to use an array of techniques from the most ancient ones like hand weaving and painting to the newest ones like digital printing and Photoshop. I have collaborated with Lara Jensen on all my painted accessories and we had a lot of fun with that; I can't wait to wear them.
Lola Chatterton (Clash Fashion Editor) styled this season and last, likewise Mischa Notcutt cast both. What’s it like working with the pair?
I couldn't imagine doing it without them to be honest, I don't know BEANS about casting or styling! Working with them takes a huge weight off my shoulders as they usually handle everything for me on that side, and they are both just so good at what they do and they always end up delivering exactly want I want.
It's a massive morale booster having them in the studio, always in a good mood and very positive! I work very hard for months on my collection and control every aspect of it, and when they arrive it is a great relief because I let it go, I close my eyes and I know I can trust them to make the final objective decisions that I am too tired to make.
Tell me about your collaboration with set designer Thomas Petherick.
It was very collaborative. I had the general concept already in my head when I first met with Thomas as the way I present my clothes always has a big influence on the collection, I like to use it as my starting point. But Thomas took that idea to the next level and made it very contemporary and relevant. I fell in love with his work as soon as I saw it online. I think he really stands out from the other set designers because he really masters his craft and everything he does is so well finished.
It was my first time working with a set designer so it was something that had actually been worrying me before we first began; I was worried that we would end up with something that wasn't very me and was a thousand miles away from what I had wanted. I find it hard to let go of things which is maybe why we make so much in the studio! Luckily for me Thomas wasn't like that, he really wanted the set to reflect the work and wanted me to be involved in the decision making.
How did the exhibition idea come about?
I have been bored of fashion shows for as long as I remember... I have also always hated fashion at least as much as I have loved it. I hate the side of fashion that is about celebrities, front rows, style, look... I admire labels like Bless for doing their own thing. My vision is to make each piece special and craft each garment as an object in itself. That is why I would like to evaluate towards showing pieces rather than looks and that is why doing presentations instead of catwalks is such a good fit, I feel more free that way. I find it so much more creative too.
Interview: Zoe Whitfield