Faustine Steinmetz’s clothes are centred on the idea of the every day via couture; the notion that a denim jacket is just as deserving of an intense week’s work as a voluminous ballgown is, hence the pieces are all handmade and the studio full of looms (the weaving kind as opposed to the school kid sort).
Perhaps less predictable is that the team, machinery and immensely intricate collections, share the space with Buzz and Lily, Steinmetz’s Pomeranian and Spaniel. Like a shoes on the sofa situation, it’s not for everyone but evidently carries no restraints for the Parisian.
“There are no words for Faustine,” menswear designer Alex Mullins told Clash earlier this year (here). “The craftsmanship, level of creative ideas and fantastic eye for quality…” he gushed. And he’s not the only one to have noticed; the label Faustine Steinmetz makes its NEWGEN debut this week, presenting on schedule as part of London Fashion Week.
“I’m sure everyone says this, but it is a great honour. The designers that have been awarded NEWGEN in the past are among those that I truly admire,” lets on Faustine, adding that, “getting to show on schedule has been our aim since we began. I still don’t really believe it.”
The reward – financial and business support from Topshop and the BFC – will see her work introduced to a wider audience, greater even than that accumulated by last season’s ‘One To Watch’ spot, also chosen by Sarah Mower’s panel.
“It was a huge boost to have the panel take notice,” she muses of the initial BFC nudge. “It really cemented in my mind that what I was doing was worth continuing with.”
Arriving in London to study on the Central Saint Martins MA course under the formidable Louise Wilson, (her London Fashion Week profile states her greatest achievement as the late Wilson calling her talented “once”), she stayed for the freedom that apparently, “doesn’t exist in Paris. I do really miss my country but I don’t miss how unopened we French people are!”
Since the label’s inception early last year, denim has played primary subject, reinterpreted by the studio in a variety of new textures and colourways that each resemble the everyday fabric.
Confesses the designer: “I started very early as it was kind of the strongest clothes I had in my wardrobe as a kid. It’s funny, as a kid I had my whole wardrobe to cut up (which frightened my parents a lot), and I went straight to denim. It just means so much to so many people,” she says, “it has so many recognisable codes and it offers a great subject of study.”
The idea of accessibility is further explored when Clash asks about social media and its importance within the industry, especially for the growing number of young labels who rely on it for the support others might be supplied via budget.
“For us it’s everything,” she recognises, “when you don’t have the budget of a big house how else do you reach out to people? What makes it more special is that you are able to reach people who have an interest in your brand and engage with them directly.” By which she probably doesn’t mean journalists whose emails have ended up in the dreaded junk folder…
Steinmetz defines luxury as “somebody spending time making something special for me” and fancies Charlotte Rampling as her dream woman to dress.
Expanding on the latter, the finish point answer of the inevitable question that concludes our interview – who exactly is the Faustine Steinmetz girl – the designer replies with conviction and structured thought.
“I actually don’t like thinking of a girl, I think it’s very vague and easy to invent a girl that suits you. That is why I work around garments that already exist, the kind that everyone has in their wardrobe, the kind that people wear everyday. I feel that this way I appeal to a lot more types of girl than just one.”
“People usually ask me about a girl,” she continues, Clash anticipating blushed cheeks, “but I hope that in each of my collections more mature women can find something they like too. There is something about older women, an elegance, a confidence which you can not see just yet in young ones. I find them so special.”
Faustine Steinmetz presents SS15 on Friday from 10:30.
Words and fashion: Zoe Whitfield
Photography: Hill & Aubrey
Hair and make-up: Tina Solberg using MAC Cosmetics and Bumble
Model: Marta Aguilar @ Models 1