How challenging can it be to find a modern marble? That’s one of the many things on the mind of designer Bibi Blangsted, who is officially launching her brand in Paris this September, specialising in white shirting that interacts with fine jewellery. The quest to create the right display for the latter has taken several weeks that included visiting marble gardens and driving past marble mountains in Italy. With a 360° design approach, it’s clear Bibi Blangsted’s focus extends much beyond the classic poplin shirt.
There is something earnest about her creative method: to make something that outlives the cyclical ‘season’ and, through it, attains more emotional value. Therefore, jewellery is one of the brand’s key elements as such. Think of a necklace passed down through generations, it gains something quite undefinable and transforms into an object that carries meaning beyond its life as a commodity. Bibi Blangsted’s shirts follow a similar line of thought, and are approached with a timescale in mind that transcends speed and disposability. The brand aspires to bring together the luxury quality of Hermès and the aesthetic of Jil Sander, combined with the attitude of Helmut Lang back in the 90s. All this, tied into a singular focus.
The debut comprises six styles that each come in different types of poplin – all chosen by touch. “It should feel great,” Blangsted says. “It is such an amazing feeling to wear something which makes you at ease, secure and confident.” To give you an idea of the quality: the base cost of these shirts can be a lot higher than the base cost of a jacket that you’d pay £2000 for in a store. That sort of background information is rather telling, and as the shirts and jewellery are developed in London and made by Italian factories whose clients include Céine and Jil Sander – truly, the product is cared for by the industry’s best hands.
The shirts come with their own specially crafted jewellery pieces, which have been created using both traditional and new techniques, such as 3D printing. At the back of each collar, there’s a logo pendant forged by hand from bronze and plated in platinum to resist all signs of wear. “I made my logo as it is for a few different reasons,” Blangsted explains. “One was to create a bridge between jewellery and logo, keeping the weight and feel of jewellery authentic. The other, as a somewhat discreet branding – if you can consider large silver items hanging from the neck discreet. I like how it pulls the collar down ever so gently. The logo itself is a combination of an earring and a Kimball tag (the little plastic tag shot through garments for tagging prices and information). Its surface is a fusion between the notion of a draped fabric, and metal, hammered gently into shape. It is a contrast in many ways.”
There’s a shirt that carries silver waved armbands, and another one that has 24-karat golden cuff loops – the perfect “Fortune 500” female-CEO garment. Who has previously thought of putting such a spin on a garment that dates back to 3000BC – to merge it with jewellery which otherwise appears only where the cuff ends? And while Blangsted is putting the final touches to the last shirt before the showroom presentation, her display ideas are developing beyond marble exclusively. They transform into crunched mirrored steel sheets, bent aluminium rods and poplin drenched in resin. Whichever will carry the more-than-metal weight of the jewellery as the poplins do – surely it’ll be the best fit.