Arthur Arbesser, the Austrian-born, Vienna-raised and London-educated wunderkind is sending graphic shockwaves through the Italian fashion capital. If Milan symbolises a distinctly Italian idea of sophisticated sex appeal dominated by the old guard of Italian design, then Arbesser’s frenzied eclecticism and penchant for pushing at the boundaries of taste signal a change of direction in the city’s fashion scene.
Last year, he consolidated a meteoric rise when his eponymous brand reached the final shortlist of the prestigious LVMH Prize; shortly after, he was also was announced as the new creative director of womenswear at Iceberg.
Arbesser’s first collection for the quirky Italian label was exactly what was required: an energetic reinterpretation of Iceberg’s eclectic archive with an experimentalism and daring that’s leading Milan’s new style stampede.
Running two labels can be a strain, though Arbesser shows no cracks: ‘Iceberg stands for colour, graphics and elevated sportswear – all things I can completely relate to my own label,’ he says. In many respects, his art-influenced aesthetic is a perfect fit with his new appointment, and the two distinct labels still find points of overlap in Arbesser’s self-proclaimed ‘design language’ – namely ‘a love of art and the brave and humorous usage of colour, logo and patterns’.
That said, his vision for Iceberg is firmly rooted in the brand’s history, right back to its founding message. ‘Knitwear!’ he exclaims, ‘Knitwear is Iceberg’s strongest area, and they have an amazing history, archive and knowledge base. The majority of this season's collection was knitwear, and I definitely want to do a lot of incredibly creative knits each season, to make the most out of the fantastic technical know-how that Iceberg has.’
The S/S 2016 collection drew heavily on the work of Enrico Baj, the appropriately avant-garde artist and critic whose works loom large in the 20th century surrealist canon. ‘I always tend to start a collection from something personal and since I’ve been a big fan of Baj's work for years, it all just fell naturally into place. I love his irony and the amazing patterns,’ he says. Baj’s work resonated strongly with Arbesser’s vision for his new creative venture. ‘That mix of military details and mad colours and graphics is full of humor and energy,' he concludes. 'It was perfect for Iceberg.’