Etienne Aigner may not be a familiar name in the fashion world but I recall the hard to pronounce moniker from my days as a sales clerk at a department store in the 80’s. In high school I worked in “Designer Shoes” and was very proud to be among the latest in chic footwear that I could only dream about owning. I learned the difference between the “cobbie cuddlers” comfort shoes to the beautiful French ones from Charles Jordan with stiletto heels which by today’s standards were probably mild. Shoe obsessions are not recent development- women have always wanted their feet to be encased in lovely coverings. Aigner shoes and leather bags had a distinctive cranberry color that women loved. My teenage self felt they were too conservative, but the Aigner lady was fiercely loyal to the burgundy reds with the “A” logo.
When I was asked to preview the spring ‘15 collection it brought back memories. The first thing I noticed is the lack of “antic red” (as it was called). It was replaced with soft tones of creams, and beiges, along with burnt orange and electric blue. There were hobos in butter suede, totes in mixed-materials of leather and faux python, and a surprise of chartreuse green fur vest. Shoes shapes ranged from chunky wedges, to sandals with ribbon detailing and a particularly distinctive pointy flat with the backs scrunched down like they were well-worn slippers.
The Creative Director, Daniela Anastasia Bardazzi’s resume includes stints at Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Kors and so she may have picked up some tips to success. What she so deftly achieved with the relaunch of Aigner is clothing that you want to own for a reasonable price. There are no bold prints or overtly trendy pieces, just easy breezy collection with a twist, like a dropped waist dress with an interesting ruffle at the waist.
The name brand has a heritage that extends well over 50 years. Mr. Etienne Aigner was a Hungarian man who started as a bookbinder in Germany in 1904, states Wikipedia. His German name is pronounced, (et-tee-an /on-yay). Aigner’s history runs from bespoke high-end leather good in Paris to its 1959 foray into the American market when that year a New York showroom was opened and remained until the year 2000.
For Sprig 2015, Ms. Anastasia’s takes her inspiration from the 20th century American painter, Andrew Wyeth. Looking at his serine paintings with naturalistic palette I can see the connection. The designer’s spring look book sets the models against a window looking out onto a grassy landscape and the models in the look book images are reminiscent of Greta, a longtime subject in the paintings.
The relaunch of Etienne Aigner started in 2012 as a slow simmer. In Oct of this year they opened a shop opened at 65 Greene Street in Soho, New York City. It will be followed by a pop-up in Columbus Circle center. The brand is set to become affordable option for stylish clothing with a twist and regain part of its former glory.