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22 Oct

American Embassy in Paris Opens Doors for Sixth Edition

American Embassy in Paris Opens Doors for Sixth Edition

U.S. Ambassador Denise Campbell Bauer opened the doors of the official embassy residence Hôtel de Pontalba for a night of celebrating young designers and American cotton.

A cocktail reception marked the sixth edition of the Supima Design Lab, a fashion showcase of works from newly minted design graduates within the Supima Design Competition within the U.S., finalists from last weekend’s Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories, and a slate of more established young talents.

The grand rooms of the previous Rothschild residence were lined with the designs on display, while classical piano greeted guests.

Campbell Bauer took to the grand steps of the residence to talk to the gang as everyone squeezed into the doorway for a view.

“I believe these are difficult times, it’s really, really great to have all of those good people, good positive energy, doing good things together and [to] have a good time our wonderful partnership with France and with one another,” she said.

Supima president and chief executive officer Marc Lewkowitz followed, noting that every one were surrounded by the sweetness and talent of the guests.

“All of us feel for the sadness that’s on the market. Hopefully tonight, we will find a bit little bit of joy together and have a good time a number of the beauty that we even have on the earth, when it comes to the brand new creative minds and the style and the sweetness that’s possible, and the fiber that makes all of this possible,” he said.

Buxton Midyette, vice chairman of selling and promotions, added that Supima’s “support for designers has all the time been the very best priority.”

“The magic that happens whenever you take these fabrics made with the very special Supima cotton, and you place them into such talented hands,” he said, and encouraged guests to talk with the young, passionate designers.

Guests on the Supima Design Lab 2023 at Résidence de l’Ambassadeur des USA à Paris.

Julio Piatti / Courtesy Supima

And magical it was, with guests mingling within the gilded rooms.

Lewkowitz said guests were a part of the on the continued success of the event. He chalked it as much as greater than fashion. “The fiber has brought us together, but it surely’s the people who we’ve connected with which can be making this a hit — which can be on the market, sharing the stories, sharing their creativity, telling the celebratory strategy of [the fiber] it starts with,” he said. “It’s all about bringing people together, bringing creative minds together, enabling connections to be made, imagining and reimagining things otherwise in a unique light.”

He highlighted the climate change challenges that face the industry, particularly the seesaw of drought and flooding conditions in California, where much of the cotton is grown, and noted that Supima launched as the primary fully authenticated, traceable fiber on the blockchain on July 1. Developing the technology took 12 years of labor.

“It’s been blood, sweat and tears, a number of investment and a number of mistakes,” he said. The authentication just isn’t only fiber DNA but location-based, right down to the farmer as well, which is able to help differentiate the fiber’s growing criteria within the face of upcoming EU and U.S. regulations. “[Now] we’ve got honesty within the textile world, and that’s a wonderful thing.”

Lewkowitz finds working with young designers particularly gratifying, partly since it is oftentimes the primary exposure they must a natural fiber as they often work with synthetics for effect. “As you walk through here, you’ll be able to see the reimagination of it — how can we make cotton seem like a technical fabric, add crazy color to it, or make it shine? There are such a lot of iterations of fantastic technical capabilities within the pieces.”

Leevi Ikäheimo’s design (center).

Courtesy Supima

Working example was Leevi Ikäheimo, who learned on site that he had carted away the Supima Coup de Coeur honor. “That is the perfect method to discover — I needed to ask what it meant,” he said, excitedly showing off his futuristic denim design. Ikäheimo used a series of special bleaching, holographic printing, glue and foil techniques for the metallic finish, and shaped the fabric into voluminous, rounded edges with an urban warrior feel.

“People were asking me, ‘Is that this the way you see fashion’s future?’ And no, I see this as fashion’s present. It’s for anyone who desires to have a good time. That’s what my collection is all about,” he said. Ikäheimo added that he hopes the shiny jeans could be produced if the treatments could be streamlined.

His work was showcased amongst the select group of finalists from the festival, including triple-crown winner Igor Dieryck, who took home the Grand Prix of the Jury Premiere Vision, the 19M Métiers d’Art prize and the Public Prize from the City of Hyères.

Other works were from Tiago Bessa, Alec Bizby, Fengyuan Dai, Petra Fagerstrom, Jung Eun Lee, Norman Mabire-Larguier and Bo Kwon Min.

Yeonghyeon Kim made the primary accessory on display with a snaking body ornament that might wind up the torso of the wearer.

A handful of Paris-based international designers had unique creations on display, including Jenny Hytönen, Julie de Libran, Nix Lecourt Mansion, Niccolò Pasqualetti, Vincent Pressiat and Victor Weinsanto.

Pressiat displayed the look that closed his September Paris Fashion Week show, this time with the removable sleeves intact to distinguish the outfit from the asymmetric version he sent down the runway.

It was also his first time working with Supima, and he noted that it’s difficult to search out strong cotton to work with in today’s market. The material held as much as his destructive techniques, resulting in the deconstructed striping on a shapely corset dress.

“The lines are clean and [alternately] destroyed just like the lines in your life — you might have good moments and bad moments,” he said of the inspiration. Pressiat was presented next to fellow wunderkind Weinsanto.

For his part, Weinsanto praised the heft of the material. “It’s just good quality, you’ll be able to do anything you would like.” He created a white column dress with a variation of textures, including embroidery from Margo Ficatier, which took three weeks of labor. Weinsanto wanted the foundational dress to be clean and straightforward, with the appliqués showing messiness and (intentional) “mistakes.”

Entrants from the Supima Design Competition of U.S. graduates.

Julio Piatti

Recent graduates from U.S.-based design schools were featured within the Supima Design Competition section, with creations from winner Carla Pierini on display, alongside Sahara Clemons, Mariana Espinosa, Hee Jin Hwang, Amber Kuai, Wendy Weng, Tianze Wu and Alexander Ziemba.

Wednesday’s cocktail reception is being followed by a proper dinner Thursday night on the Embassy.

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