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  • Patrick Cabasset & Hervé Dewintre

ESMOD TALENTS: hope for design

They are the Alpha and Omega of our future, the professionals, designers, pattern-makers, craftspeople and artistic directors of tomorrow, and ESMOD has given them the keys that will open the doors to many specialist professions, the vocabulary and expertise that they will be able to develop and enhance working with existing companies or use in their own endeavours. The end-of-year juries and runway shows, emotional as they may be, mark not an ending but rather the beginning of a career that we hope will be exciting and rewarding.

We have put together a subjective selection of these future greats, of talents that each deserve a special mention that befits the progress they’ve made so far and the destiny that awaits them.

The 'Screaming Flowers' of Femke Thijs

Fashion has allowed Femke to boost her self-confidence by giving her a way of expressing herself and developing her personality. The positivity she generates through beautiful images, as well as her aesthetic messages, meant that she found this form of design, which she sees as an art, particularly appealing. Originally from Gant, in Belgium, she has achieved the dream she had as a 16-year-old of coming to Paris to study fashion.

Specialising in the ESMOD Paris New Couture class in her third year, she tries to balance her work between classic couture and modern art. She defines her highly inspiring graduation collection as an ode to colour, with vibrant ranges inspired not only by the colours of flowers but also by their shapes and volumes, evoking labyrinths of greenery that conjure up images of screaming flowers. The spectacular dreamlike results of her research will undoubtedly enable her to join the stimulating creative department she’s been dreaming of.

Her life philosophy is to “Always believe in your dreams but work hard to achieve them. Stay true to yourself, as that’s the best version of you there is. Let your imagination run wild and express yourself however you wish. And finally: NEVER give up!”.One more thing: well done!

Femke Thijs: bringing a new edge to the romanticism of flowers

Thelma Antonic's therapeutic performance

Thelma originally found clothing fascinating as a means of expression and of asserting her personality. Over the course of the three years she’s spent studying at ESMOD Paris, however, her perspective has evolved somewhat. From future designer with her own brand, she has become increasingly passionate about contemporary art. Fashion rapidly drew her attention to performance and other means of expression that she might not ever have thought of exploring in her first year, and this sense of curiosity also changed her way of working. It soon became the case that the purpose of the product was no longer the goal. What she discovered she was passionate about was the process, the journey she took to get there. An intellectual approach that soon led to her choose the Performance specialisation as part of her training at the school.

Her graduation project Organic Replica is neither a collection nor a wardrobe; in fact, she describes it as a sort of therapy dealing with her relationship with the body, her body. The human being has become her field of exploration as she breaks the internal-external dichotomy down into 4 parts for examination, namely communication, the hair, the shell and the organic aspect. It’s not surprising, then, that the materials she uses can be as robust as a skeleton (plaster) or as fragile and delicate as the skin (silicone). Whether you consider it realistic or excessive, her work certainly puts life in the spotlight and breaks with convention, a sort of therapy in the form of a means of expression that she intends to pursue in other creative spheres as she continuously broadens her horizons, and why not? Fashion will always be the catalyst that helped Thelma fulfil her real aspirations.

The body is at the heart of Thelma Antonic’s artistic research

Futuristic accessories by Baptiste Darrigrand

Having trained at ESMOD Bordeaux for 2 years, Baptiste Darrigrand has always admired art, culture and the freedom of artists. Fashion has appealed to him since he was a teenager and helped him to assert his personality. He began drawing shoes and clothes at a very early age as his passion for fashion emerged, and his designs are very much a reflection of his personal tastes, first and foremost, and the elaborate research he has been carrying out for the past year at ESMOD Paris.

His accessories collection ‘Fragments Temporels’ combines aerodynamism with the retro-futurism of the 1950s and 60s and the futurism of the present day - ‘aesthetic anachronisms’ that he cultivates as signs of the times. The metal featured in this collection is often patinated and the leather resplendent, bringing the new right out of the past and combining different periods in history with a strong sense of ambiguity.

After graduation, Baptiste would like to develop his own brand, Génésis, although he knows that a stint at a major fashion house such as Givenchy, Maison Margiela or Christian Dior would only boost his confidence.

Modern-day retro-futuristic accessories by Thomas Darrigrand

Cherifa ElKharadly: an explosion of life!

For Cherifa, fashion is a means of personal expression that allows her to communicate in a non-verbal way. When it came to designing this collection, she went for the most optimistic of colours. “All of the colours, prints and details come together to reflect who you really are”, she says. “They help to reveal our true character - our stories, our thoughts, our feelings and our emotions...”.

She has been conducting this sort of exploratory work for three years at ESMOD Paris and chose to expand upon it in her third year by specialising in knitwear. This first complete collection, produced over the course of her final year here, reflects her optimism and her dreams, which could be described as bright, colourful and sometimes downright bizarre. Fun patterns inspired by the 1980s and 90s are central to her work, which combines a variety of styles such as luxury ready-to-wear and sportswear in a dynamic offering that expresses an excess of life as vibrant as her peppy photos.

A great career in the knitwear sector is sure to await her in the future before she undoubtedly goes on to create her own brand.

Life as a festive explosion by Cherifa ElKharadly

The extravagant cubes of Thomas Heno

Thomas was passionate about all artistic media - music, drawing, sculpture, engraving, painting, photography - from a very young age, and a career in the world of design soon became the only sort he was interested in, initially focusing on automotive design and later on furniture. At the age of 15, he discovered the work of fashion designer Rick Owens - a revelation that would push him towards the worlds of clothing design and fashion. From drawings and historical studies to fashion sketches, his temperament allowed him to explore this creative sphere with great passion, a passion that he now hopes to turn into a profession.

Specialising in performance enables him to explore geometric volumes that change depending on the angle of observation, taking a radical ‘geometrist’ approach that began with the round and spherical and has now arrived at the cube. His design project Trois Points is intended to create a renewed appetite every season based on flagship pieces associated with ‘French elegance’. Seeking to perpetuate the expertise of various craftspeople through innovative projects, he also includes future customers through customisable variations on his designs.

The master’s degree he’ll be embarking upon at ESMOD Paris next year will give him time to expand upon these spectacular developments.

The cubist wardrobe of Thomas Heno

Dancing clothes by Katsuki Nakata

The 2023 collection choreographed by Katsuki Nakata highlights the breathing of the fabric in what could be described as a precious ballet, an ode to this vital urge, embodied by clothes that refuse any notion of gender assignment to flourish in creative pieces that seem to personify the very essence of movement, as demonstrated by a collar that executes complex lines around the neck as if it were exploring the untapped resources of rhythm. The Japanese student, who spent time at ESMOD Kyoto before moving to Paris for an additional year of study, claims that this project stems from her earliest childhood memories. “When I was a child, I liked to express my feelings through the medium of dance, which is really central to this collection; contemporary dance, to be precise. My aim was to create a garment that would allow the wearer to free their emotions without constraint”. The fabrics are layered, divided, put into perspective, placed symmetrically to and complement one another just like the various facets of an accomplished personality. “I had only one great aim in mind when it came to designing this red dress, as a colour that represents boldness, and that was that this garment should give the wearer a great sense of self-confidence”. Mission accomplished: ‘La danse des vêtements’ (‘Dancing Clothes’) is a striking apology for

the sort of pulsation that gives rise to a vocation. “When I was a teenager, I was awarded a special prize from the great designer Hiroko Koshino as part of a fashion competition that he’d organised. It was an intense experience, one that is very much still with me today, and it’s this same flash of joy and happiness that I hope to recreate by making people’s hearts race through fashion”.

Stylist, Designer : Nakata Katsuki / Photographer : Shania Lim

Noble Nature by Laure Chevrier

The ochre, earthy, mossy and woolly shades selected by Laure Chevrier for her collection dedicated to the nobility of nature make up a whole landscape that she develops through her designs, from winding country roads to a horizon marked by the red leaves of autumn, the sound of local herds and the dawn mist. The 10 silhouettes that the student has created seem to conjure up the colours of the storm and the asymmetry of the living from the essence of the clouds, the depth and the consistency of the fabrics she uses attesting to a deep reflection on the uniqueness of the material, the importance of its origin and the quality of its execution. “My collection embodies my definition of fashion as something that should be elegant and refined while incorporating noble, natural materials that are most importantly respectful of the environment, humankind and animals. That’s why I wanted to highlight the craftsmanship, the handmade element and the delicate irregularity that this brings with it”. These values, which are deeply rooted within the body, are effectively manifested in this collection, which creates a great sense of serenity thanks to the scale of its volumes, the softness of its models, the finesse of the combinations it features and its ability to appeal to all the senses. “I’ve always been drawn to clothing and the materials it’s made from. I think clothing is ‘therapeutic’ because it can help us feel good and therefore boost our self-confidence”.

Stylist, Designer : Laure Chevrier / Photographer : Franck Levey

Les Vilains Gamains’ by Leane Cauchie

The myriad of recycled pieces of fabric that Leane Cauchie has used to develop her Les Vilains Gamains collection contain a layering of feelings that each have their own colours, effects, ambiances and years of formation, as if the garment were able to carry the immense edifice of memory within its imperceptible particles, rather like Proust’s madeleine. A patchwork of recollections that make up the wardrobe of a memory and demonstrating the already mastered art of creative narration. “The goal is to come up with new stories, to go above and beyond what already exists, to give forgotten clothes a second chance”, the student explains. “I wanted an alternative and eco-friendly collection that took a fun, expressive, inclusive, mixed and authentic approach to clothing, a collection produced entirely from upcycled fabrics that would make the child I used to be proud and help improve tomorrow’s world”. A patch of denim or a little piece of velours somehow seems to remind us, if only we are willing to listen, of the playground “Being the great nostalgic that I am, I feel a great sense of attraction to places and objects that played a significant role in my past, not because “everything was better back then” but because I like to remain a big child and it brings me a certain sense of comfort. I try to retranscribe these memories in the present using quirky, kitsch clothes, for example, and always with a hint of irony. I draw inspiration from the world of childhood, from the duality of the stories we were told, which hide some pretty dark and disturbing undertones if you read between the lines. It’s a combination of the world of Tim Burton and Peter Pan’s lost boys, so with this in mind there’s obviously a lot of patchwork involved, which also means I discard as little material as possible”. Eco-friendliness and poetry can indeed, it seems, go perfectly hand in hand.

Stylist, Designer & Photographer : Leane Cauchie

Theo Acquistapace's La Cabine d’Essayage (‘Fitting Room’)

Between the body and the garment there lies an expanding universe that has a whole host of possibilities, each representing a different creative realm conducive to dialogue and alchemy, orbiting around its centre of gravity, in this case style. This is the narrative arc that Theo Acquistapace develops with his myriad of silhouettes that alternate between hot and cold, attraction and withdrawal, symbiosis and adaptation. This science of story-telling is all the more extraordinary in that it is perfectly summarised by a clear hook and a striking concept: the fitting room. “The idea of this collection is to highlight a public place with which everyone is familiar, a place where the first encounter between Man and Clothing takes place, a place of choice, of hesitation, of desire. The fitting room is associated with being a cramped space relegated to the background of the collective mind, whereas what I discovered through my research and the various avenues I explored was a broad, open theme that could be approached in a number of different ways”. The student, who hopes to go on to complete a master’s degree in fashion design to continue to develop his eye and his technique before ideally working in the design or pattern-making department of a designer brand, specialising in men’s ready-to-wear fashion, has come up with some remarkable variations on the theme of undressing, where volumes defy proportions, finishes, sizes, unfastening and layering to really highlight the sensual nature of the garment when worn.

Stylist, Designer : Théo Acquistapace

« The Day After » by Victoria de Looz

The lightbulb moment came in Givenchy’s Haute-Couture workshop. “It was the first time I’d been there. I was taken very much by surprise and overcome with admiration for the skill demonstrated by those little hands in white coats and their meticulousness. I saw the tables overflowing with precious fabrics and tissue paper, the models hanging on the racks just waiting to be finished, the sketches lining the walls, all this effervescence combined with the sound of machines at work. That was the moment I realised I wanted a creative role in the fashion industry”. This meticulousness, this desire for excellence down to the finest detail, comes across very clearly in The Day After, a project created by Victoria de Looz. This excellence is reflected in her choice of luxurious materials, her implementation of rare expertise (embossed leather, the art of corsetry, hand-painted fabrics, etc.) and her desire to produce a wardrobe that shuns the trends to focus instead on appearance. “All of my fabrics come from the dead stock of major fashion houses that give students the opportunity to access quality end-of-roll fabrics and give them a new lease of life. I also try to promote slow fashion by creating clothes that are made to last over time”. The student’s first collection, Berlin Underground, explores the uniqueness of a multicultural city. “When it came to producing my collection, I started with the great classics, stealing some iconic pieces from the men’s wardrobe, such as the trench coat, the suit and the trousers, and reworking them to create a new and imposing but still feminine silhouette”. A new take on the femme fatale.

Stylist, Designer : Victoria de Looz

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