Three members of the Swarovski Collective—Christian Wijnants, Thomas Tait and Esteban Cortázar—presented some enticing offerings for Fall/Winter 2016/17 at Paris Fashion Week. Each deployed their skills to bring something unique to their runway shows through their innovative use of crystal accents in their work.
Thomas Tait explained his haphazard, yet paradoxically precise, approach to applying crystals: “We used small XILION beads at the tip of smooth non-faceted beads, and the placement was really spontaneous. Having looked at the clothes on the model, there were certain places that just drew your fingers to them, so we applied the crystals to these places on the day of the shoot. It wasn’t calculated.” The result was subtle branding—one back-printed crystal came in a little ‘T’ shape, as well as grown-up garments with a slightly avant-garde effect. Tailored pants were splayed at the hems, and angular jackets had quirky ornamentation.
Esteban Cortázar’s collection took its cue from wild nights at Berlin’s KitKatClub, which he presented in a precise color palette: black, white and molten silver. The looks were mostly restrained, except for touches of design detail—velvet lapels on tuxedo jackets, worn with wide chokers; pants rendered in slinky metallic silver; and skirts entirely covered with crystals. He described his process as “beginning with an idea of freedom and restriction, and exploring how to use the fabrics, materials and textures with that in mind. So, it started with something very nonchalant and cozy, long and lean at the bottom with the top part going more structured and armor-like, but with bonded velvet inside the leather. The leather was then sliced and given a wax finish, with Swarovski Crystal Fabric used to create an almost galactic feeling, continuing what we did last season.”
The final member of the Parisian triumvirate, Christian Wijnants, translated something primal into a modern sartorial statement. Taking his cue from animal prints, “but a little bit more abstract—almost like brushstrokes or splatters,” he explained: “The idea is like a naïve drawing, something a little art brut and Raoul Dubuffet, with abstract but very graphic strokes.” These graphic motifs appeared on languid single-breasted suit jackets and pants. He also blended blues and greens in an ombré pattern, tying the shades together with clever crystal transfer work: “We used the black to keep it very graphic, but we also used a little electric blue. Sometimes embroidery can make the garments stiff, so what I like about the transfer is that it doesn’t really affect the way the fabric drapes or moves—you still feel the material underneath. It doesn’t feel rigid.”