Friday, October 4, 2013

Look No Further For Your Essentiels

Belgian label Essentiel Antwerp launches in Britain this week, and although you might not be familiar with the name yet, we advise you to make a beeline for it before everyone else does. Print and colour form the heart of its aesthetic, teamed with a tomboyish playfulness.

"We've always had a good response from English customers," said the label's co-founder Imnge Onsea. "It was just a question of meeting the right people at the right time. The mix of classic heritage and edgy fashion is something the British are well known for and it's what they can expect from Essentiel."

The brand was established in 1999, by husband and wife Onsea and Esfan Eghtessadi, the son of French designer Nicole Cadine. Neither had any formal design experience (in fact, Onsea was working as a model for brands such as Max Mara and Mugler at the time), but using their apartment as their showroom, they decided to launch a T-shirt line. Due to high customer demand, four seasons later the couple added new categories - including dresses, knitwear, jackets, shirts and trousers.

"We're two passionate people, but completely opposite," said Onsea of working with her husband. "It's not always easy, but our spark is also the key of our success. At first both of us did everything together, but over the years we've really found our own roles. Esfan is more business minded and takes care of the men's collection. I work, alongside a stylist, on the women's collection and image of the brand."

The label already boasts 27 stores across Belgium and France, and this week becomes available at Anthropologie, Harvey Nichols, Asos and Atterley Road. Highlights from the autumn/winter 2013 collection include a grey marl jumper with a Bowie-inspired glittering zigzag motif and a cobalt blue cocoon-like coat.

Next up for the label is the launch of a new beachwear collection, which will arrive in stores next summer. Onsea and Esfan have honed their respective skills to make a winning team, also using their Antwerp base as a source of ongoing inspiration.

"Esfan has a great feeling of what is going to sell and I have a fashion spirit," said Onsea. "Antwerp has a special energy because of the mix of different cultures, but at the same time we have the Belgian attitude of hard work."

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