One thing I love about my job is meeting up and coming designers who have a completely new take fashion. My latest find is Belgian designer Jean Paul Lespagnard, who visited Hong Kong last week to showcase his spring/summer 2013 collection (which is available at I.T).
Jean Paul studied fashion in Belgium and later embarked on a career as a magazine and costume stylist. Following stints with designers like Anna Sui, he decided to enter the famed Hyeres Fashion Festival in 2008 where he took home two prizes (past winners have included Viktor & Rolf and Felipe Oliveira Baptista). This led him to launch his own brand in 2009, and two years later he began showing at Paris Fashion Week.
While Jean Paul’s Belgian predecessors – think Martin Margiela and Ann Demulemeester- were known for their avant garde take on fashion, his work is the complete opposite.
“What I’m designing is what I think was missing from fashion – specifically fun. My clothes combine fun, elegance and comfort,” he told me.
The result is a series of imaginative collections that draw inspiration from art and popular culture. At the same time many of his cuts and silhouettes are based on classic pieces in a woman’s wardrobe. The difference lies in his use of textures, graphic prints and details.
“I am maximalist in a minimalist way. My cuts are super simple but I don’t like using zippers. Instead I use snap buttons or elastics for the waist. There’s a big mix between elegant and sporty,” he says.
This can be seen best in his spring/summer 2013 collection which is inspired by Carnival of Binche in Belgium and Africa. It sounds strange but the result is a playful collection of multi-functional pieces that are wearable yet fun. Highlights include trousers with extra fabric that ties around the waist and a simple shift dress made from cotton jacquard that resembles an old tapestry print.
Most of the pieces can be worn in different ways. A pair of trousers can double as a strapless jumpsuit. Inside a pair of tailored shorts you’ll find a hidden lining that opens up into an eyelet cotton shirt. He’s also known for his prints – for spring they are decorated with oranges, beers and oysters. From far away the print appears traditional but up close its whimsical and irreverent.
The piece de la resistance however is his name tag . You’ll find it on the back of every item in the form of removable black snap button printed with his name. It’s a fun homage to Margiela’s white tacks, don’t you think?