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.
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."
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.
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.”
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?
AE: I usually am inspired by people I know personally; I don’t really follow celebrities. Usually, I am inspired by one aspect of that person, so I am inspired by most people actually.
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
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.