Behind his office desk in Milan, Arthur Arbesser is diligently discussing the applique processes for the abstract Swarovski crystal swatches strewn about. A sparkling gingham pant and shirt set are getting the royal treatment as the designer sketches looks and files through baubles, exhibiting the depth of preparations that went into crafting this Spring/Summer ’17 collection.
Deeply inspired by the culture of Austria, Arbesser’s streamlined silhouettes reference the turn-of-the-century architecture he grew up with, lending a polished feel to his pieces. Often bred from a specific inspiration, his designs come to life with an energetic presence, achieved through expert tailoring and high-quality fabrics, selectively chosen to evoke the mood of the story Arbesser wishes to tell.
What role do you think fantasy plays in fashion?
In any creative job, fantasy has a key role and I think especially a fashion designer needs to have a very good sense of imagination to picture one’s fantasies before they turn into garments. I also think fantasy goes hand in hand with curiosity and a bright, sharp brain.
What is your earliest fashion memory?
It must be the Viennese ladies on the street that I studied meticulously, and definitely the costumes at the Opera, since my parents took me a lot when I was tiny. The power a costume can give a performer made me fall in love with clothes at a very early age.
Your latest collection draws from uniforms of all kinds; what about the Palio di Siena inspired you?
The Palio di Siena has amazing colors, graphics, and symbols and although the shapes and patterns of the costumes are medieval they look incredibly modern.
What’s your favorite vacation/travel destination?
It varies a lot... Right now I'd like to be very high up in the snowy Alps. I guess in the summer it will always be some small island in Greece, not a busy or fancy one, but a place where you can truly relax and switch off. But I'm also a city guy, so places like Berlin, Rome, Porto or Moscow I love as well.
What song is currently on repeat on your playlist?
The Verve‘s "The Drugs Don't Work."
What role do you think craftsmanship plays in a design? Whether with crystals, embroidery, etc.
Handmade things are beautiful in any field. It’s also about traditions. Today more than ever we need to make sure traditions and handcraft stay alive and can flourish.
How do your Austrian roots play into your design point of view?
I’m very drawn to linear, clean design and architecture, which flourished in Vienna at the beginning of last century. I think my roots are unconsciously very visible in my work but I’m actually very happy and proud of this.
Who’s your favourite author?
Thomas Bernhard, very Austrian, very twisted and critical.