Esteban Cortázar Returns to Net-a-Porter

Colombian designer Esteban Cortázar is back at Net-a-Porter. The 29-year-old’s latest line, which debuts today, features a monochrome palette and carefully tailored designs that accentuate every curvature of the female body. It is, in short, a far cry from the breezy fabrics and saturated hues commonly flaunted in the designer’s former hometown of South Beach, Miami.

Continuing from where his first Net-a-Porter line left off, Cortázar tells us, “I had the [Japanese architect] Tadao Ando spaces present in my mind, and the graceful movement of a manta ray. I became more interested in exploring architectural and sculptural shapes during recent years, especially after living in a city like Paris with such stunning architecture.” Inspired by the clean lines in Japanese design, Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, and American light installation artist James Turrell, Cortázar describes his first Net-a-Porter collection as “the blank canvas to that exploration.”

“I experimented with shapes I had not tried before that could be architectural but at the same time, soft, sensual, and feminine,” Cortázar continues. “For me, it’s been about studying the different angles, lines, and gestures of the female body, and sketching freely with this as my starting point to then see what the shapes and sketches start to remind me of.”

Instead of creating jewelry intended to offset his clothing, Cortázar worked closely with a friend, the Paris-based jewelry designer Alican Icoz, to create pieces used to reflect the shapes of his designs.

“We work quite organically together, and Alican’s aesthetic complements the collection very well,” he says. “We wanted the pieces to somehow become an extension of the clothes themselves—it’s hard to pick a favorite piece in the collection, because it’s a very focused and edited collection, and every piece has so much work and thought that went into making them.”

Since his departure as creative director for Emanuel Ungaro in 2009, Paris-based Cortázar turned to online retail to reinvigorate his eponymous label, with Net-a-Porter funding his business to give the brand a global kick-start for further development.

Does Cortázar ever regret breaking out on his own?  “I have 100 percent freedom to create what I want and build my own vision. I think it is very important for the collections to have a lot of continuity and build an identity while still maintaining a sense of surprise, so I am now focused on having them grow organically from one another and build a language little by little.”