Since his debut at Australian Fashion Week in 2010, Christopher Esber has been a star on the rise. Since launching the eponymous label, the designer‘s knack for creating subversive party pieces and staples with a flashy point of difference has cemented him as god-tier in the Australian market. But over the last few years, his brand has gone from ‘If you know, you know’ to ‘How the hell don’t you know’, with major celebrities like Dua Lipa, Kylie Jenner, Margot Robbie and more chomping at the bit to model his work. And this season, at Paris Fashion Week, his steady success reached a major milestone with his first showing on the official schedule.
At the Cité de Architecture et du Patrimoine, guests, including yours truly, all dressed in their favourite Esber as they took in the view of trees bunching up under the Eiffel Tower. Outside, with manicured gardens and towering refurbished Haussmann buildings, the venue seemed misaligned, but once inside, it all made sense. We were ushered into a dimly lit room with high arched ceilings and walls in raw sandstone brick—much more to Esber’s taste. There was a sense of reverence in the air, almost evocative of a church, with friends of the brand all gleefully taking in this moment. The connections each persona had to the brand were palpable, and feelings of connection were what inspired the work.
Looking at nature’s influence and how materials interact with the body, Spring/Summer 2024 held a primal sense of belonging. Silhouettes, in general, took influence—and even material—in nature but were designed to move naturally and envelope the body. Just like the walls of the space, the colour palette was evocative of nature in its sage, weathered state. Think washed stone and sand that reflect robust natural formations for the collection’s foundation, while butter yellow, pistachio and red serve as punctuation.
After some introductory tailoring in herbaceous tones—including a stunning pair of jeans layered under organza—a dress, top, and skirt showed up in a crushed, translucent fabric reminiscent of glaciers and edged in alpaca fringing. Early on, it became clear that Esber wasn’t just here to show Paris more of what people know and love, but he was ready to keep pushing his experimentation further.
Elsewhere, squares of beaded mesh were patched together for an asymmetrical statement piece paired with slouched trousers for a look that incited a stifled gasp from the front row as it glistened. Speaking of shiny things, signature Esber hardware had a small but notable presence and, this time, evolved into new metallic structures that don’t make way for stones but actively support draping to accentuate key features of the body. And just when you think you’re sick of cut-outs, a slinky jersey dress created with layers looped through each other and a bubble hem proves there is plenty more to play with in this realm.
In a twist, what initially looked like a patent turned out to be an innovative biomaterial made of freely grown leaves that are laid individually, stitched together and painted to create a singular leather-like fabric. This was found in a coat, skirts, cropped jackets and a cumberband belt. Organza was also used interestingly, with corset-like tops structured to culminate in pointed peaks at the bust—a playful accentuation that featured throughout the collection.
Esber may have done a lot with drapery over the last few seasons, but he does it better than most, particularly in the way he deconstructs the technique to appear as layers, almost like clashing currents on the water’s surface. In this collection, he does well to continue this look both in body-hugging silhouettes and more Grecian-esque shapes.
It was a still room as the clothes moved on bodies, but as models made their final walkthrough, a raucous ovation was dished up for the designer, and rightfully so. Congratulations are certainly in order, not only for Esber‘s debut on the lauded schedule but for stepping up to the occasion instead of pandering to it.
This article originally appeared on Grazia International