SPHERE Paris Fashion Week® Showroom
By Laurence Benaïm
According to the dictionary, “In geometry, a sphere is a surface formed by dots equidistant from a point called the centre.” In Paris, the word reaches its full dimension with a capital letter. Funded by Le DEFI and L'Oréal Paris, SPHERE Paris Fashion Week© Showroom was launched in January 2020 by the FHCM. With four sessions per year (two each for men’s wear and women’s wear), it gathers five to eight brands at the Palais de Tokyo. Eighty percent are based in Paris, 20 percent from abroad.
What are the selection criteria for joining the showroom? Most important is to be listed on the Official Calendar of Paris Fashion Week or to have won an international prize (Festival de Hyères, LVMH Prize, ANDAM, Yu Prize, Woolmark). Entries are presented to a committee of six experts who decide on the selection for each session. Among the designers who have participated in SPHERE since its debut are Arturo Obegero, Bluemarble, Christoph Rumpf, EGONlab, Ester Manas, Germanier, Louis Gabriel Nouchi and Thebe Magugu. More than just an incubator, SPHERE launched a digital platform in June 2020 with Le New Black, a partner of the FHCM.
This season's line-up includes five designers: Lucille Thièvre, Maitrepierre, Rolf Ekroth, Benjamin Benmoyal and Florentina Leitner, an Austrian designer based in Antwerp who graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and whose prints have seduced Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Charli XCX among others. “The collection was inspired by the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, she says referring to Peter Weir's 1975 film. Hence the ultra-delicate fusion of neo-Victorian lace and pastel shades with edgy vegan rock touches. SPHERE was also an opportunity to further establish the brand’s presence in Paris, as shown by her collaboration with jewellery designer Helena Thulin.
“SPHERE? It's a big step forward, an achievement,” says Lucille Thièvre, from Brives la Gaillarde, who studied at the same school as Marine Serre. “I appreciate the support of the Fédération and the industry, and the opportunity to develop sales in a friendly environment. The showroom experience can be pretty tough for young brands. Being in such an institution, with such high calibre visitors, is very rewarding. It's an experience that lifts us all up.” For Spring Summer 2024, she updated her signature codes: “Ultra-feminine pieces, lots of pleats, lacing and shiny materials, glass buckles to hold the garments closed,” says the Givenchy alum. “That's what we're trying to focus on, while remaining true to today's reality. ‘My Eighties’ is a tribute the period that captivated my mother.”
Then there’s Benjamin Benmoyal, who continues to combine documentary and emotional dimensions. He drew on the naturalist drawings of Ernest Haeckel, the German philosopher and freethinker, as well as his own photos taken in Yafo and Cesarea, to celebrate “a very summery and relaxing” season. The 33 looks mixing jacquards with floral prints and Berber weavings. This marks his sixth and final time at SPHERE. “Without SPHERE, I don't think I would have started selling. The first buyers came in the summer of 2021 thanks to this show. We only had four boutiques then, but now we have 25.”