In celebration of the tenth anniversary of “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents” (formerly the “ Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program”) 10 of its star designers, including Dion Lee and Vivetta, were brought together to create an installation at Somerset House.
The gifted design talents chosen for the special anniversary event embody the spirit of the initiative developed by Mercedes-Benz over the last decade, which has seen more than 90 designers given an opportunity to stage a show on one of around 30 international platforms.
In 2009, Mercedes-Benz launched its International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP), aimed at promoting emerging talent in the world of fashion. The objective was to support a series of talented young designers as they embarked on their careers in fashion both locally, within their home market and globally. As a means to elevate the program and increase the type and the amount of support being provided, the scheme is being broadened to include talent from a variety of creative industries. In future, Mercedes-Benz will extend its breadth of collaboration with schools which have leading curriculums in the creative industries of art, design, photography as well as fashion. In celebration of this and the tenth anniversary, the program has been renamed to "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents".
The next big thing: the search is on for new Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents
Alongside the exhibition, Mercedes-Benz offered its guests and social followers the opportunity to help shape the future of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents programme. The audience was invited to follow @MercedesBenzFashion and to then post a look from their favourite emerging designer. By using the hashtag #MercedesBenzFashionTalents this will directly nominate the talent to be a part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents programme. The call-to-action, which commenced on 15th February, will run throughout London Fashion Week until 18th February. Out of all entries one of the nominated designers will be integrated into MBFT in 2019.
The London Fashion Week celebrations presented a retrospective exhibition to mark the exciting future of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents, with the following brands invited to tell their stories as a part of the platform:
This London born, Sri Lankan raised rising star may have only graduated in 2015 but he's already garnering attention and made his catwalk debut this year at MBFW (formerly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) Berlin. His colour-fuelled, bold aesthetic draws on his dual heritage. "I wanted to create something fresh from something raw" he enthuses over the "sense of chaotic calmness" he aims for in his work.
The Australian star has helmed his cult label for ten years, in that time he’s opened six flagship stores in his home country, been the first ever designer to stage a show in the Sydney Opera House - opening Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in spectacular style May, 2017 - and now boasts over 40 of the world’s most prestigious stockists. “Sensual and technical” and “engineered sensuality” are his buzz words.
Swiss designer Julia Seemann grew up in Lucerne and honed her skill working for Vivienne Westwood and Meadham Kirchhoff in London before launching her own label in Zurich. Soon after, her label was worn by Rihanna and she has presented her collection at Der Berliner Salon in January 2017. Engaged with art, music and other subcultures the designer enthuses that “we’re always in search of forward- thinking concepts for sustainable collaborations.”
“Situationist is designed for individuals with character who prefer quality instead of quantity,” says Irakli Rusadze, who founded the Tbilisi-based fashion label in 2015. The brand takes its cue from post-Soviet era aesthetic tropes: over-proportioned tailoring, leather boots and matronly dresses. “I wanted to explore links between collective historic identity and character of an individual, modern- day Georgian and how it can be reflected in fashion”, he explained.
Canadian designer Steven Tai launched his label in 2013 after winning the ‘Chloé Prize’ at the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères. Part of the prize was a show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, which the designer says encouraged him to start his own business. He quickly became recognised for his freshly off-kilter take on femininity. While studying at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, Tai cut his teeth working for Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolf. “We celebrate the underdogs and qualities that are not often celebrated,” says the designer who describes his work as an exploration of the confidence it takes to be different.
An innovator in the field of sustainability, this Roman born, Milan based pioneer experiments with recycled and upcycled materials to create what can be described as couture with an environmental conscious. “Working with the theme of sustainability, we are at a historic moment when we are taking the first steps, and are working hard with suppliers and producers to create the best solutions for everyone”, he says. Tiziano Guardini presented his AW18 show, with Mercedes-Benz’ support, at Milano Moda Donna in September 2018.
Florence based Vivetta Ponti is following in the long tradition of fashion with a very tongue-in-cheek dose of pure Italian wit. My label reflects what I love, my interests, my inner world,” says Ponti who has fans in Alexa Chung and Florence Welch. She takes in inspiration from poetry, dolls, antiques, vintage furniture and old tapestries elucidating that “The retro feel of the items is balanced by a decidedly contemporary style that focuses on delivering something new.” The A/W18 Vivetta show was taken to a new important audience via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week China in March 2017.
Born in Hanover, William Fan is a Berlin-based fashion designer known for his artful combination of both Chinese and European crafts. He debuted his label at Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Berlin in 2015, marking the start of his journey to becoming one of Berlin’s most celebrated designers. His knack of bringing together rich fabrics such as cashmere, silk and painstakingly detailed embroidery with sportswear fabrics offers a unique point of view. “ I experienced different contrasts that found their way in my collections, such as simple versus complex,” says Fan.
Distinct, colourful and irreverent, Tominaga’s work is a work of pure signature design flare. He describes it as “visually playful, contemporary, and sometimes classical and tribal”. Born in Kumamoto and based in Tokyo, Wataru Tominaga is known for his distinctive bright, colourful designs that are instantly recognisable. The Japanese designer won the “Grand Prix du Jury Premie`re Vision” at the 31st International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hye`res, which led him to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
This knitwear specialist has presented her work at London Fashion Week since 2014. Her striking, intricately technical sculptural work earned her the admiration of the late, great Azzedine Alaïa, and was nominated for the LVMH Prize in 2015. “ Modern, innovative, bold and colourful,” is how Li describes her work. “I like to make a commentary in my work about the current situations within the fashion industry, in a light- hearted, playful way,” she adds.
24 years of Mercedes-Benz fashion activities
Over a period of 24 years Mercedes-Benz has established itself worldwide as a major player in the fashion industry and title sponsor of selected fashion weeks and events. The brand is currently active in 40 countries, including the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks which take place in Sydney, Mexico City, London, Madrid, Tbilisi and Berlin and also the famous International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères. Furthermore, since 2017 Mercedes-Benz has been a member of the Fashion Council Germany (FCG) and since 2018 a member of the German Fashion Designers Federation e.V. (GFDF).
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