Big in Austria: Claudia Rosa Lukas

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Published September 11, 2009

Looks by Claudia Rosa Lukas. Photos by Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

When I mentioned Vienna and fashion to a French colleague at Barcelona 080 fashion week, he shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something about caves. This probably says more about Paris’ chauvinistic approach to la mode than Viennese style, but it’s true the town is much more renowned for great coffee than for memorable clothing. Claudia Rosa Lukas, 35, who established her eponymous brand in 2005 showed her demure, minimalist style at Barcelona 080, will be one of the 20 brands showing and from September 24–27 at MQ Vienna Fashion week. This is the fair’s first edition and it includes brands from Austria, Russia, Latvia, Hungary, and Rumania.  Lukas has great knitwear in her spring collection—precise, silky cardigans that she produces locally, and some spider web-like dresses which are made by a group of Viennese ladies who knit at home. She sells to just ten shops now and most of them are in Japan. Her leathers are also superb; they’re paper-thin and a typical jacket is made of one uncut piece of skin which drapes over the shoulders like a sleek, ragged-edge cape. Lukas studied under the legendary Viennese designer Helmut Lang when he taught at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts and he set her on the minimalist path. “He made his students do a lot of research to discover the essentials of a garment,” says Lukas. “He made us think about every seam you need and don’t need and how to construct modern basics.” Lukas says she has been interested in fashion for as far back as she can remember. I was into faces and hands first and finally the covered female body.  I began by redesigning old clothes.”  She doesn’t like themes or collections with names. “Why bother with unwanted associations?” She asks, describing her style as “a quiet revolution in this fuss-driven fashion world.”