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London calling Austrian designers

By Anita Matkovic

Austrian fashion is sometimes viewed as somewhat of a pact that is broken. The fashion scene is filled with aspiring designers who peak through with their success, only to never be heard of again. Fashion designer Claudia Rosa Lukas, who runs, is trying to change this and is currently curating an exhibition featuring young Austrian designers, for the London Fashion Week.

Viennese designer label Femme Maison is one of the designers partaking in the event. Femme Maison’s label was started a mere two years ago by the designer/photographer duo Franziska Fürpass and Sia Ali-Pour-Kermani. The duos motto is "Raw Elegance." A shop for their label is expected to open soon in Vienna’s Karmelita district.

Claudia Rosa Lukas explains that the problem with new designers was that they used to start their carriers with a runway show in the Paris Fashion Week, and for one second the attention of the whole world was upon them, only to fade off soon afterwards. The new wave of designers are working in smaller steps. Ali-Pour-Kermani explains that concentrating on their main ideas to build up a stronger network to work on is most important. Lookbooks are produced and worked on, merchant are kept in close contact with, after all, it is the production of the collection that is the second most important trait next to the design itself.

The difference between the new and old designers in Austria is that the new designers are much more obsessed with the quality of their merchandise. There is a much higher expectation of quality, something designers in the past didn’t fully engage in. These days the quality has to fit the price on the price tag. Femme Maison produce almost everything in Styria, where they live, and a lot of their pieces are made out of Loden material, a thick, wool fabric that is tough and sturdy.

Being informed about the Market and being well oriented within it, is something new for Austrian designers, something they didn’t pay too much attention to beforehand. Fashion designers in the past used to be much more concentrated on completing their self-image, rather than getting their designs out to the public. For designers today it is common to go abroad and get an internship with big name designers, and then move on into the Market world with their own labels, fully educated and experienced. This was the case for Femme Maison’s Franziska Fürpass, who worked for Bernhard Willhelm in Paris, as well as for Marios Schwab in London. At this rate, maybe someday soon, Austria will have some big name designers to call their own.

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