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3 Jan

EXCLUSIVE: AZ Factory to Showcase Fledgling Designer Tennessy Thoreson

PARISAZ Factory is doubling down on its commitment to support emerging talents by staging an event during Paris Couture Week as a showcase for the work of Tennessy Thoreson, a recent fashion school graduate taking his first steps within the industry.

Having pivoted to a platform for collaborations with guest creatives, or “amigos,” following the premature death of its founder Alber Elbaz in 2021, AZ Factory is ready to present what it bills as a “theatrical show” on Jan. 23 featuring 12 looks by Thoreson inspired by the concept of “super heroines and their exceptional powers,” the home revealed exclusively to WWD.

Richemont executive Mauro Grimaldi met the French designer at his graduate show on the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD) in November 2021, where Thoreson won each the Eyes on Talents award and the bachelor Bongénie Prize together with his sharp fantasy silhouettes with pops of acidic color and fake fur.

Grimaldi said he was impressed by Thoreson’s technical skills and distinctive aesthetic, and his skill for storytelling, rooted in female and queer empowerment, inclusivity and joy.

“His vision of fashion and of society was very clear and really current, and at the identical time, he has a tremendous, super emotional, method to communicate,” he recalled. “Whenever you meet a designer that has technical skills, a really sharp aesthetic, a powerful storytelling and the flexibility to speak it — in my vision, this designer has a lot of the elements that may take her or him to success.”

With strong links to the drag community, Thoreson embodies AZ Factory’s ethos of “smart fashion that cares,” the manager said.

“We thought this concept of a heroine really resonated with one among the pillars of Alber’s philosophy, which was the concept clothing can give you a form of protection from the skin world,” Grimaldi said. “As a form of extension of this concept, we love this concept of a set of 12 looks, each of them with a superpower.”

The designs will probably be available for custom order, with fittings to happen at AZ Factory’s atelier situated on the Fondation Cartier in Paris.  

“It’ll work as a real couture experience for a recent generation, for folks that are probably today far more into streetwear or a special approach to fashion,” Grimaldi said. “It’s a product, but it’ll even be an experience.”

As reported, AZ Factory is planning six presentations a 12 months with guest creatives. While couture week is reserved for emerging talents, the ready-to-wear shows will probably be a time to unveil collaborations with more established designers which have the potential to change into everlasting, reminiscent of Lutz Huelle, who brought his expertise to the spring 2023 collection.

The brand will present confirmed or internal projects on the pre-collections schedule, with a repeat collaboration from 2022 slated for next May or June. AZ Factory’s initial slate of partnerships also included Thebe Magugu, Ester Manas, Cyril Bourez, Sheltersuit and Italian DJ collective Club Domani.

After hosting a primary pop-up store in Paris throughout the fashion weeks for men’s and high fashion last summer, Grimaldi is considering one other temporary space in 2023, though he has ruled out the thought of a everlasting flagship for the brand. AZ Factory works with around 50 retailers worldwide, including Selfridges, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Printemps and I.T.

“We aren’t in search of a 200-door distribution. We’re growing step-by-step with the proper people,” he said. “We aren’t into making a huge business with no limits, but we’re really into protecting and incubating designers that have to be protected, whatever stage they’re at.”

Elaborating on the rationale behind working with “absolute beginners,” reminiscent of Bourez and Thoreson, Grimaldi said the thought was to develop a network of talents around parent company Compagnie Financière Richemont.

“These projects that we present during couture, they should not have a right away give attention to industrial potential, but they represent Richemont’s commitment to support the subsequent generation of designers,” said Grimaldi, a strategic adviser to Philippe Fortunato, chief executive officer of Fashion & Accessories Maisons at the luxurious conglomerate, which owns brands including Chloe, Cartier and Alaïa.

“Even when we start with a one-shot collaboration, we search for folks that potentially can change into everlasting collaborations for the group in other ways. It could possibly be with AZ Factory directly, it could possibly be with one other house of the group, it could even be that at a certain point, with a few of them, we determine as a gaggle to support them and to speculate in their very own brand,” he explained.

“Obviously, we never select designers with whom we already know from the very starting that there is not going to be space for a second or a everlasting episode,” he added. “The unique idea about AZ Factory is to create solid and non-conventional relations between one among the largest conglomerates and independent designers.”

While fashion prizes have grown in size and stature in recent times, AZ Factory’s platform vaults recent graduates straight right into a luxury group, with full access to creative and product development teams, in addition to marketing and communications resources.

“That is the actual beauty: we provide talented people a chance even before they’re ready from a structural standpoint,” Grimaldi said. To wit, Thoreson has yet to found his own brand. Following a stint at Chloé, he’s now interning at Paco Rabanne.

“We provide them the likelihood to appreciate their very early dreams. And at the identical time, we try to supply them a primary scheme to structure these dreams right into a true collection,” Grimaldi said. “On the opposite side, what we receive from that’s that we’ve the likelihood to create a dialogue with designers that might be leaders within the industry in the long run.”

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