AZ Factory opens triple Amigo pop-up in Marais
A triple-header at AZ Factory, where the brand unveiled the first looks by its three “amigos” inside a Marais pop-up, each of whom subtly channeled elements of founder Alber Elbaz’s oeuvre.
Using Alber themes like voluminous shapes; visual puns; quirky sophistication and night-time glamour each of the three – Thebe Magugu, Cyril Bourez and Ester Manas – tapped Elbaz’s DNA even as they explored the key idea behind AZ Factory – taking couture concepts from the catwalk to the street.
The first amigo had already tipped his hat with a couple of Zooms with senior editors, but this was the first live presentation of his AZ ideas. Perched on a stockman was one marvelous blue and white silk dress; plissé and dipped in blue below the waist; and above, topped with a smart blouse, finished with a trompe-oeil of a pen bleeding blue ink in a pocket.
“It’s inspired by a blouse from his time at Guy Laroche. To my mind, one of Alber’s most brilliant periods,” noted Magugu, a LVMH Prize winner, and the leading star of a new generation on African fashion talent.
Thebe’s other prints were also admirable – in particular a red and white Meerkat print, drawn by hand, as was a zebra print sturdy cotton trench.
All looking great in a new campaign shot in London by Nadine Ijewere, starring model Ponahalo Mojapelo and styled to include checkered Lino imported from Johannesburg, Thebe’s home town.
Alber Elbaz was definitely not an athlete. But in his free time between his departure from Lanvin and his opening of AZ Factory, he often admired Parisienne ladies jogging along the Seine. And that active sportswear theme was at the heart of Cyril Bourez’s collection.
All of it made of deadstock, mixing American basketball team jerseys from Portland or Orlando with ruffled collars and shoulders and Hawaiian shirts to create some great party clothes.
“I wanted the sense of a girl going up to her big brother’s wardrobe and throwing something together by mixing up her own clothes with his,” smiled La Cambre graduate Bourez.
The Franco-Belgian duo of Ester Manas will only start retailing their amigo collection in the fall. Though it’s already been something of a whirl wind collab.
They started working on the collection in mid- April, just nine weeks ago, commuting down to AZ Factory’s studio on an upper floor in the Cartier Foundation, the jewelry marque that is a flagship brand within luxury group Richemont, which also finances AZ Factory.
The results cleverly incorporated Ester Manas’ key strength – bold graphics and inclusive fabrics.
Most especially their superb Amigo prints that blended contemporary photos of food – including cooked chickens – and classical Flemish still-life oil paintings of banquets.
Famed for their inclusivity, the duo used hyper-stretch fabrics like polyamide mesh, elasticated jersey and accordion style knits, so a multiplicity of sizes can fit in their creations.
All told, a kicky and cool physical debut for AZ Factory, whose only collection by Alber was a mock variety TV show shown only online two years ago. But this Thursday in Paris, the brand seemed very alive, thanks to its novel Amigo strategy.
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