Though undeniably a dream for many young designers, fashion week debuts are only the reality of a select, equal-parts-lucky-and-determined few. And save for high-profile defections, homegrown talent typically gets the bulk of attention—not to mention the biggest editors, bloggers and buyers in their front rows. With that in mind, we’ve decided to single out three non-American labels this season—Park Choon Moo, Black Coffee and Elisa Palomino—that have staying power beyond their New York ready-to-wear debuts this fashion week.
Park Choon Moo: Following academic stints in industrial and fashion design, Korean-born Park Choon Moo launched her eponymous womenswear line in the late ’80s, before opening her first retail shop in the trendy Apgujungdong area soon thereafter. Quickly expanding her reach across broad swaths of the Asian market, she won over customers with a modern edgy-yet-elegant aesthetic. While meriting laudable comparisons to everyone from Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo to Ann Demeulemeester, the designs are undeniably unique. Fluid, layered and often deconstructed, the looks typically skew in favor of monotone palettes, occasionally punctuating black and white with bolts of bright color.
Black Coffee: Only a year after winning the Mercedes Benz Award for South African fashion design, it looks as though Black Coffee’s Jacques van der Watt and Daniça Lepen have officially arrived. Following a glowing review of their Summer collection from no less than Suzy Menkes, the two-time “Designer of the Year” winning duo decided to hightail it to New York. Known for its multi-functional, draped pieces, Black Coffee fuses modern luxury with a sense of history. Whether folding African fabric origami-style to create repeating patterns or topping off their beaded, color-blocked and embellished wares with helmets and nets, the duo imbue the line with character and charm.
Elisa Palomino: Elisa Palomino won’t be anonymous much longer. Having worked for years behind-the-scenes at Moschino, Dior and, most recently, DvF (where she still serves as VP of design), Palomino ultimately saw fit to go solo. Like mentor and friend John Galliano, the Spanish-born designer favors an ultra-feminine aesthetic—think marabou trim, panne velvet and layered chiffon in soft flesh and rose tones. Meanwhile, Palomino continues to teach at Central Saint Martins, where the students keep her engaged and inspired—a few former pupils are reportedly even serving as interns. Not to be outdone in the “kind gesture” category, Galliano’s also had his factory create Palomino’s new, sure-to-be-coveted ankle boots.