Discovery: Eddy Anemian

Born in France but trained in Belgium, designer Eddy Anemian embodies the best of both fashion worlds: the haunting romanticism so often associated with the French married with the structure and discipline found in our most beloved Belgium designers. It is therefore fitting that the 24-year-old design student was awarded this year’s H&M design award, a prestige that comes with a 50,000-Euro cash prize and the opportunity to develop a capsule collection for the Swedish retail giant. Anemian’s victory was celebrated yesterday with a runway show during Stockholm Fashion Week. 

“We were looking for something that gave us that ‘Wow’ feeling,” says Anne-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s Creative Head of Design. “Eddy’s designs were both poetic and intriguing. They gave me and the jury that ‘Wow’ feeling.” This year, jury members included Erdem, Vogue Italia‘s Sara Maino, Michelle Harper, and Michelle Dockery. Eight finalists were selected from a bevy of internationally recognized design schools. Anemian hails from the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre in Brussels, the acclaimed alma mater of Olivier Theyskens.

There is a couture-like quality to Anemian’s winning collection in its painstaking intricacy, particularly in the skirts and dresses fashioned by hand from strips of floral fabrics. The purposefully unfinished quality, however, lends what would be a boldly romantic aesthetic an unexpectedly edgy undertone. It is this unique contrast that, in the words of Johansson, gives those in the presence of Anemian’s designs that “Wow” feeling.

HOMETOWN: Saint Chamond, France

CURRENT LOCATION: Brussels, Belgium, where he is finishing up his fourth and final year at La Cambre.

BLOOMING INSPIRATION: I had two starting points for this collection: the Italian movie I Am Love with Tilda Swinton and the French painter Ingres. I love the sunny and flowered landscape in that movie, but because flowers are already used a lot in fashion, I wanted to propose my own vision.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: Each piece takes a lot of time to be made. I had to be very patient and motivated to cut the meters and meters of fabrics into strips—there are 12 meters of fabric in one skirt. It’s actually upholstery fabric. Once I’ve cut the fabric, I try to recompose the pattern. I cut for hours and hours, and then try and recompose.

COLOR, COLOR, COLOR: I love bright colors, even if I work with a neutral base of black, white, and beige. I think it’s important to take risks with colors and propose an interesting chromatic scale. For the first half of this collection, I had mainly a strong blue and an acid yellow. I decided to add pink, brown, and yellow—earth colors—to bring a “mineral” direction to the collection.

HIGHS AND LOWS: I have some haute couture inspirations—certain shapes are very strict—but as you come nearer, you see the rough textures and the torn fabric. When I am building my silhouettes, I work on a stockman, doing a lot of research to find the shapes. I try to understand the proportions that I want for a collection and when I have that, I think about the construction.

A MASS MARKET: For H&M, we’ll try to make some pieces with flowers and some pieces that are more wearable. I am very happy that H&M will respect my design. We will think about the strips, the prints, the rough textures, and the shapes.

FAMILY FIRST: The first people I told when I won the award were my parents. They really support me and they really trust me, so I was happy to tell them the big news.