AZ Factory Couture Spring 2024

When Paris-based Finnish designer Jenny Hytönen thinks about the future, she doesn’t envision the future as a blank slate or a sanitized Space Age era.

“I see it as layers of time,” she said at the presentation of her AZ Factory couture collection on Monday.

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So for her turn as guest couture designer at AZ Factory, she riffed off two moments by late founder Alber Elbaz that she felt resonated with this outlook: the layering found in his fall 2009 collection, and metal bar details from spring 2015.

Translated by the prism of the delicate-meets-brutal creative vernacular that wowed the 2022 Hyères festival jury, it resulted in filmy organza gowns layered over vests made of metallic hoops; military shearlings collaged together into a stately cape, or an off-the-shoulder number that bristled with thousands of needle beads.

Wild yet polished, her work evoked a post-apocalyptic red carpet, owing to Hytönen’s interest in the post-punk and cyberpunk movements, moments where a younger generation traumatized by conflict “started creating all these crazy things,” according to her.

It drew admiring looks from a crowd that included press; fellow designers, including present and previous AZ Factory “amigos” such as Lutz Huelle, Tennessy Thoreson and Lora Sonney, and a clutch of VIPs such as actresses Camille Lelouch and British singer-songwriter Celeste.

That alone meant Hytönen’s collection hit the spot in terms of the AZ Factory universe, in the opinion of Richemont executive Mauro Grimaldi.

He reminded that one of the objectives of the brand was to help each of the creatives it works with “move to the next step” and, in the case of the youngest generation, create their professional ecosystem.

“It’s time for the big conglomerates to support independent designers,” he said. “We should come out a little bit of this approach of taking young blood and then [discarding them].”

Backstage, Hytönen indeed extolled on the experience working with the AZ Factory studio, particularly soaking up their recollections of working with Elbaz. It had helped her cement the direction she wanted, if not specific plans yet.

“I want to create things to take time,” she said. “In this world where everything has to happen [immediately], I think it’s punk and a statement in itself.” So was her AZ Factory collection.

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Launch Gallery: AZ Factory Couture Spring 2024

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