7 European Designers You Need To Know In 2012

Thankfully, it’s still January, so those New Year’s resolutions that may have been, um, “postponed temporarily” can now be replaced with this one — getting to know the best up-and-coming European designers of the year. Think Kane before Hollywood A-listers saturated the red carpet in his designs, or Katrantzou before editors fought over a seat at her show. That’s right. We’re dishing up the emerging talent from across that big pond who are on the cusp of making it big, and we're giving them a little nudge.
Stick to this guide on the seven new European designers you need to know now, and soon you’ll be fabulously cloaked in their duds while you casually name drop, say, Avelon to your fashion-obsessed boss that you so desperately need to impress. Just remember to take a mental picture of her jaw dropping for future confidence boosts...
Photo: Courtesy of CO-TE
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It’s alright that Erik Frenken is bit on the moody, almost-schizophrenic side (he claims his collections are “like duck-taped [sic] cocktail dresses”), because the Amsterdam-based creative director still has one ridiculously chic line. He credits it to his fascination with juxtaposing luxurious fashion designs with cutting-edge techniques and fabrics. Think leather overlaying viscose or a super-slim silhouette accented with an oversized geometric embellishment. He plays with proportions, shapes, and textures and isn’t afraid to cross the line now and then.

While most of us would abhor the thought of showing up to an elegant soirée in the aforementioned taped-up frock, Frenken’s designs are so unexpected, imaginative, and playful that you’ll happily reconsider the notion. No, he doesn’t actually design a duck-taped cocktail dress, that’s merely a metaphor for his distinct aesthetic — flawlessly blending urban cool with high-end fashion. And thanks to that witty POV, Avelon is one label we’re going to be seriously lusting after in spring.

Photo: Courtesy of Avelon
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Italian designers Tomaso Anfossi and Francesco Ferrari had a vision when they met years ago at Dsquared2 — create a collection for the curious woman who loves to experiment and play with her clothing, without losing her integrity. If the success of their Milan and Paris shows this past fall provide any indication of their mounting accomplishments, then it should be said that 2012 is going to be quite a year for CO-TE.

Their spring ’12 line, a collection showcasing the silhouette and color scheme of helium balloons, reflects the ethos of their inspiration and work — geometry. Clean, austere lines punctuated by voluminous shapes and patterns highlight their artful design. Youthful bibs, rich leather skirts, interchangeable suiting, crisp white dresses, and fitted playsuits all exude so much sensuality and simplicity that we’re guessing you’ll want to dive right into these pieces come March.

Photo: Courtesy of CO-TE
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Phoebe English
Commit this name to memory because in the coming year she’ll be on everyone’s lips — Phoebe English, Phoebe English, Phoebe English. Her brilliantly crafted collections garnered her a Vauxhall Fashion Scout Merit Award along with an additional VFS ‘Ones to Watch’ nomination, not mention the L’Oreal Creative Award she won in 2011. And that was just the beginning of her fashion accolades. Bloggers and editors around the world hail her designs as transformative and wildly creative.

This past September, her sophomore show during London Fashion Week debuted yet another collection of avant-garde, visionary womenswear featuring the signature “hair” fabric only Phoebe can deliver. Sure the textile is a little unconventional, but given the modish nature of her designs, we’re placing bets on her Dover Street Market stock selling out in no time.

Photo: Courtesy of Pheobe English
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Sasha Kanevski
Sasha Kanevski’s determination to create Ukrainian fashion that’s on par with Italy, France, and New York proves why he’s at the top of the list for European designers to keep an eye on in 2012. If you could take the downtown-chic styling of a New Yorker, splash in some dark, brooding colors, and top it off with grungy, urban textiles, you’ll wind up with his spring ’12 collection. Vests with cut-out details, shadowy tones of chiffon delicately draped, and sharp, linear detail echoing menswear design — it’s the fusion of the modern feminist meeting the ultra-hip Eastern European cousin.

If that doesn’t sell you, try shopping his current fall ’12 line inspired by rescue equipment, such as aircraft inflatable vests, seat belts, and airbags. Yes, you read that correctly, but just think how cool you’ll look in Sasha’s interpretation of protective gear — nylon coats, bondage vests, woolen knitted hoods, and leather accessories. Who knew those oxygen masks could be so multi-functional?

Photo: Via Sasha Kanevski
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Sister by Sibling
You may have heard of Sibling, the menswear collaboration from design trio Sid Bryan, Joe Bates, and Cozette McCreery, or perhaps you have stumbled upon a Sister by Sibling sweater in Topshop and didn’t even know it. But you will now. Sister by Sibling’s spring '12 collection, entitled Skeleton Carousel, was a funkified carnival run awry, dripping with pop culture imagery (the I Heart Hot Dog crewneck was a big hit) and showcasing animal prints in a humorous, but artistic manner. The label’s sweater collection takes a sartorial bite out of twinsets and Cosby-style knitwear by imbuing quirky and stylish concepts into an otherwise, sometimes-lackluster, wardrobe staple. Their love for wool and anything cozy will quickly transform your closet into one audaciously cool collection of spot-on trendy knitwear.

Photo: Courtesy of Sister by Sibling
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Teatum Jones
Vogue editors loved them, buyers at the iconic London shop, Liberty, snapped up their spring ‘12 collection, and London Fashion Week attendees raved about their presentation. Having only completed two small collections before their big debut this past September, Teatum Jones impressed the pants off the fashion world during LFW. Citing escapism as their initial connective thread, their style is simple — redefining contemporary elegance by finding beauty in even the most sinister of places. Expect to see gritty watercolors haphazardly splashed across floor-length gowns, pastel polka dots dancing on silk-crepe dresses, lemony yellow accenting brocade organza, and quilted viscose suiting paired with soft leather.

The visual narrative Teatum Jones delivers in their designs is authentic and poignant. It’s no wonder why Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones are slated to be one of the top design teams to watch this year.

Photo: Courtesy of Teatum Jones
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Think of Tshirterie as a Project Runway challenge – Tim Gunn dares the contestants to transform a basic T-shirt into a clever expression of fashion. And then imagine Tshirterie taking home the grand prize…. every episode, every season. That’s how genius and innovative the Tshirterie creations are, and that’s why they sit high on the list of designers to be on the lookout for in 2012. The masterminds behind Tshirterie, Rosita Spugnardi and Antonio Neroni, have that ying-and-yang thing going on — she’s a little bit vintage-y with an obsession for prints, and he’s a little bit eclectic with a masculine sentiment. Put the two together and you’ve got a well-balanced mashup of his-and-her's style. The contradictory undertone of their designs captures what they deem to be the definition of fashion – “it’s a giant oxymoron”. And it shows! Simple tees ornamented with feathery bib necklaces, oversized t-dresses emphasized by miniature prints, and boxy tops adorned with jeweled collars. Slip on one of these tees and let your off-duty style shine in 2012.

Photo: Courtesy of Tshirterie

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