One flat, three rooms, 11 designers, 12 collections. For two days the Lausanne-based TJ Showroom SS13 has opened its doors in the premises of the Espace Saint-François gallery (ESF) to let international buyers and press see what’s going on in the world of up-and-coming fashion and accessory design. The emerging labels hail from Switzerland, France, Lithuania, Norway and Japan – away from the established hot spots of London, Paris, New York, Milan or Berlin. The differences couldn’t be greater – and we mean that in the nicest possible way.
“Thank you for coming, we are really happy to see you”, purrs Siham Jmammou, one of the two girls behind the host TJ Studio, while giving us the obligatory three welcome bises. Swiss reservation? Not really. Generally stressed? Neither. Siham simply cares – about the event, the designers, the press. And, refreshingly, she doesn’t feel ashamed about showing it.
The showroom itself reinforces the sense that there is something new and happening in here that we haven’t seen in a long time. Some may call it unorganized or amateurish, but we prefer “real”. First of all, take the premises: the ESF is located in the heart of Lausanne city, in a huge old flat with timber piling and worn-out white window frames that allow a view onto the neo-classical front across the street. With one more window to the left you’d see the Alps’ white peaks on the horizon. Everything is bathed in warm sunlight which creates an intimate atmosphere of calm satisfaction. The ESF might be an office and art space but it feels like a friend’s home.
The collections hang in the three exhibition rooms on white painted walls, on white clothes racks – think Ikea Mulig, nothing fancy – or spread out on showcases. Within this bright setting the dresses, pants, bags and jewelry seem to glow. Every label has its own space, and every designer stands alongside their designs. Curiously, they all exhibit the same countenance: a mixture of excited pride and a-bit-too-stiff professionalism. Also, aside from their true age, they seem so full of passion and dreams – some may call it cheesy; once again, we prefer “real”. But apart from their similar mood, the 11 designers have little in common. Take, for example, the eldest participant, Norwegian Kaja Gjedebo, and her jewelery label KGD (www.kgd.no). After studying furniture design in Edinburgh she decided that she’d rather concentrate on smaller items: rings and necklaces. She describes her current collection as “sculptures, that look like the interaction of leaves and their shadows in shrubs”. “My idea is to create jewels for people who actually don’t like jewelry – like me,” she reveals, laughing.
There is also Pascale Cornu (www.pascalecornu.com), a real local, and newly graduated from fashion school. After collecting some experiences abroad, the cheerful girl decided to come back home. The all-but-nostalgic love for her homeland is evident in the collection, the parts of which all have a symbolic link to Switzerland. For Spring/Summer 13 she abstracted the Swiss fir tree and transformed it into painted triangles on Art Nouveau bodycon dresses. And let’s not overlook Tamara Perez (www.tjshowroom.com), the skinny and chic brunette with her healthy lifestyle collection, “Apparence Max”, urging the wearer to “stay fit”. Or Sybille Kuhn, head of the label Seam (www.seamdesign.ch), the healthy power woman with the tallest model we’ve ever seen on her coattails, who loves to slip into her romantic Tinkerbell designs from time to time.
In all this diversity, where is the leitmotif? “As we selected the designers we didn’t want to concentrate on a specific direction,” says Chiara Travaglini, the other half of TJ Studio. “Our goal was not to showcase only newcomers from Switzerland, or simply focus on womenswear or a certain style like avant-garde-orientated. We wanted them to be as different as possible. But there are still two pillars linking them all: good quality as well as good design.”
Lausanne is neither London or New York, nor Paris or Milan. But it is a place – to be honest – so totally “out of fashion”, that it may be able to come up with something fresh. Some call it naïve. We prefer “real”.
Find out more about the participating labels:
Aiste Nesterovaite www.aistenesterovaite.com
Atelier Laure Paschoud www.laurepaschoud.ch
C Bijoux www.tjshowroom.com
Cliff Lee www.cliff-lee.com
C by Cliff Lee www.cliffleeparis.com
Isabelle Hertzeisen www.isabellehertzeisen.com
Luka Maurer www.lukamaurer.com
Pascale Cornu www.pascalecornu.com
Tamara Perez www.tjshowroom.com
Tomohiro Tokita www.tomohirotokita.com
And the TJ Showroom
TJ Studio – trends creation production marketing
Rue St Pierre 2