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Monday, November 12, 2007

Just Call Him Mario$

Alexandra Marshall from Zurich...

This weekend was the Swiss Textile Federation’s annual Stella Awards in Zurich. Set up for designers who have achieved a track record, but need a firm push on the small of the back, Stella’s purse is a cool €100k. (Euros, people. That’s $150k, but please don’t remind me.)

This year, Greek-Austrian Londoner Marios Schwab (Central St. Martins ’03), took home the prize, to the surprise of few. In but a handful of short seasons, Schwab has managed to build himself an actual fashion identity, sort of like a higher-concept Narciso. Last year he was named Best New Designer at the British Fashion Awards, and for the textile people, it probably didn’t hurt that his spring 08 collection—the same one he brought to Zurich—opened with a cool minidress fronted in heat-sensitive fabric.

Technically adept, and structure-happy but not ridiculously so, Schwab beat out crowd-pleasing Gareth Pugh, the brilliant absurdists of Bless and Felipe Oliveira Baptista, among others. Schwab's wares are provocative, but sensible and professional enough that he may not even need the most grounded aspect of the prize, that the €100k booty goes for services, rather than coming as a lump of cash. Apparently this is so young upstarts aren’t tempted to develop a new designer drug addiction or whip up a capsule lingerie collection in fuschia astrakhan.

Last year’s winner, Bruno Pieters, just started a menswear line and was hired to do Hugo, Boss’s bridge line. So depending on the savvy of the recipient, the prize money can show fast results. But based on Mario’s very interesting collection—and I mean that in a good way!—we’re hoping that he holds out if Body Glove calls. It’d be nice to see what he does of his own accord first.

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