Talking ‘Talents and Food’ with Christopher Esber

5th June, 2015


Vogue Italia and Sanpellegrino have teamed up to launch ‘Talents and Food’, a competition which teams the best emerging chefs and designers from 20 different regions around the world to each create a garment inspired by a particular dish. Australia’s team for the competition comprised of designer Christopher Esber and the sous chef of Attica restaurant, Peter Gunn. The pair will fly to Milan to present their creation this month, with the final winner being chosen by the team from Vogue Italia. Christopher’s creation from the competition (pictured above) will be available as part of his Spring/Summer 15 collection which is available in July.

I had the chance to catch up with Christopher to discuss what it’s like designing a garment inspired by food (you may have caught some of our chat on last night’s episode of Fashion Bloggers)…

How did this all come about for you?

I’m quite close with the team at Vogue Italia and they told me about this prize that was coming up where designers from various countries are working alongside emerging chefs. The whole idea seemed a bit strange at first but I can see how the two work together. Peter Gunn from Attica in Melbourne won and the winning dish is a piece of steak with celery with sautéed mustard. So I went down the route of colour and texture with fabrics. All our fabrics are made in Italy so I started speaking with the weavers and trying to create a texture similar to what you see in the steak. I want this outfit to be wearable because of course I design for women and it needs to be comfortable but at the same time you’re filling this brief as well. If you’re looking at that piece of steak it’s a long cut and that’s kind of the silhouette of the outfit.

How do you find your inspiration for something like this?

I’ve done enough collections now that I find inspiration in what I’ve done in the past. So just looking at what the brand codes are, so long lines, things that are streamlined, really clean and minimal. So taking that palette [based on the dish] and working in elements from the brand. Looking at what your strengths are is always a good starting point for anything.

What sort of fabrics did you use in this garment?

We worked with a raffia that we’ve backed with a heavy silk and we wanted something that was really luxurious and really soft on the body but had that texture and body that you can see in the piece of meat. So I was trying to emulate that in a wearable way that doesn’t look too art project. And the textures in the celery, it’s prominent.

I don’t think your work could ever look art project!

But it so easily could, when you’re given something like this. I’m really happy with the final result. We’re actually selling it, so it’s going into the collection.

Was that intentional?

Well if you’re making something you need to maximise it. It’s the kind of outfit that I could see a lot of Australian women and international customers wearing.

So how did you feel about the 10-day design time frame?

I like time constraints. I find that when you have too much time for something you just overdesign or you overthink things and you end up going back to your original idea so it was very gut instinct with this and just go with what you know.

Can you talk me through the design process?

I’m very much about textures and fabrications so I work a lot with Italian mills on developing fabrics that are exclusive to the brand. So when the opportunity came up I was looking at the textures in the dish and how we can emulate that in the fabrications. So I came up with doing this raffia that’s been woven to create the rippling that you can see and we just did a mustard wash. If you look at the fabric up close it’s not a solid colour it’s quite tonal and there’s bits of brighter yellows and touches of brown. For me this brief in particular was heavily about fabrications.


Christopher Esber with his dress design


Christopher Esber with Peter Gunn at the Vogue Italia/Sanpellegrino presentation dinner


Can you believe this was inspired by a steak dish?


The lovely details at the presentation dinner


A creative collaboration between Vogue Italia and Sanpellegrino


What do you think of Christopher’s design? Share your thoughts below





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