EUDON CHOI UNCOVERS/ ARLETTE ESS
Artist and Designer
Arlette Ess is a visual artist specialised in drawing. Her intricate work creates a sense of immersion and wonder. Through her interiors and fashion collections, she shares her love for the natural world, and a desire to distil its magical and mysterious essence. Originally from Switzerland, Arlette worked for many years as a fashion model for the industry’s leading luxury brands. After a stint of print design at Alexander McQueen, Arlette decided to start her own label whilst continuing to work on commissions, collaborations and personal projects.
SHOP THE LOOK
Abur Knit Pink, McGrail Trouser Pink
EUDON CHOI: Can you tell us a little about your modelling career and highlights?
ARLETTE ESS: My modelling career was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I started in Paris when I was 20 and then I moved to New York. I did a lot of shows and worked with really interesting photographers like Tim Walker and Peter Lindbergh. I would say my highlights were when I did the Chanel Couture show and then when I did a whole W Magazine story on my own with Craig McDean. There was a lot of travelling. I’ve been to the swamps in Louisiana to the Cougar National Park in South Africa, sleeping in a caravan! It was really exciting and very, very cool.
EC: How did you get scouted?
AE: Actually, it’s a funny story. I moved to Paris when I was 19 and I just wanted to work somewhere easy like a restaurant, be myself and find my personal freedom, it was super idealistic. I struggled to get a job there and people started telling me I ‘should be a model’. On one day four different people told me I should be a model and I was like ‘okay, okay, okay, I’m going to try it’ and then I kind of started. In 2003 I moved to London and stopped modelling and started studying.
"For me it seemed really natural to just do my own thing, so I decided to start my own business. I just wanted to realise my own ideas, I had so many ideas I wanted to bring to life."
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Beatrice Jacket Pink, McGrail Trouser Pink
EC: How did you first get into print design and why did you choose to start your own label?
AE: I studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Art. I first wanted to do Fine Art but after the foundation course, I thought graphics would be better because I enjoy some kind of constraints, briefs and collaborations. In my final year I completely veered off into my own little world in my head, my tutors absolutely hated it, because it wasn’t graphic design really. I was very much into patterns and repetitions. After the degree I had the opportunity to do a print design internship at Alexander McQueen. There I learnt what can be done on textiles with technology, weave and print.
EC: Can you tell us the techniques you use to create your prints?
AE: I use a lot of Indian ink, which is a really basic black ink I use either in a pen or with brushes. Everything is hand painted and I rarely take out a mistake. I only use the computer to change the colours and the make repeats.
SHOP THE LOOK
Francois Cardigan Khaki, Margit Culotte Grey
EC: Why is ‘slow fashion’ and creating timeless pieces so important to you?
AE: I think fashion is about the person and not about the trend. I think we are way too wasteful and things should last. Personally, if I buy something or if I have a piece of fashion, I want to keep it for a very long time and let it grow with me. Even if I do not wear it for years, I will get it back out my closet and I will be super excited about it again when the time comes.
“I think fashion is about the person and not about the trend.”
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EC: Can you share with us what you are working on at the moment?
AE: At the moment I am working on a few commissions for other people, more interior stuff, not fashion at the moment. But, I am extremely excited to start on some of my own designs very soon.
EC: Can you talk about the work you did for Hermes?
AE: I did two scarf designs for them, one with which I won the competition in March and then I did another one which I finished in September. That also was very exciting! And I am still working with them.
EC: Which woman do you find most inspirational and why?
EC: What do you do away from work to relax?
AE: I go for a little walk or bike ride. If I really want to relax I go on my own, without my children, otherwise I would have to constantly watch them. I also love a hot bath.
SHOP THE LOOK
Ida Top Olive, Rodin Trouser Olive
EC: Has your style changed during the pandemic?
AE: No, not really, I don’t think I have bought any clothes!
EC: What’s your favourite feel-good read?
AE: Recently I have read some Haruki Murakami books, it’s not really feel good but more escapism. 'Hard-Boiled Wonderlandand the End of the World' by Haruki Murakami is great.
EC: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt during the pandemic?
AE: I am one of the few people who's life has not really changed in the pandemic. But, with the collective shift of world changing and things changing, it has made me realise a lot of things about myself!
EC: What is your favourite Eudon Choi look from AW20?
AE: I think it probably has to be the black SONIA COAT it looks so cool, kind of street fighter and the Olive colour pieces.