Australian designer Christopher Esber has been presenting collections in Paris for years now, but this season marked his first official, on-calendar runway show. And given that his particular brand of bodycon dressing has already been over-copied in recent years, he seized this occasion to throw a few new ideas into the mix.

Taking inspiration from nature is a recurring motif, and here he used an elliptic stone to anchor a draped, ruched swath of a white bodice that pushed his taste for negative space into bold new terrain. (Yes, it stays in place, he insisted.) Other dresses pushed the envelope in similar ways, baring a breastbone here, a navel there, or perhaps a hip bone. When it came to naked dressing, however, a pair of handmade latticed-crystal tops stole the show.

The designer has a solid following for peekaboo looks of that ilk, but to his credit he doesn’t rely on baring all in order to exist. He had a few ideas about draping, for example: A red sleeveless jersey dress had a more forgiving attitude, structured by a low-slung wire that let the skirt folds stand slightly away from the body. Elsewhere, a dress in double-face silk bouclé had the texture of terrycloth but looked sophisticated enough to go from beach to restaurant without disclosing too much.

Esber said he had been looking at the very earliest ideas about dressing (think: loincloths and leaves), which in turn led to a series of pieces made of actual leaves from the Amazon. They were stitched together on a cotton back and processed to a leather-like finish, most winningly on a black coat. Couture-like techniques and materials—such as those meshes, boning, and organza—took everyday staples like jeans and raised them a notch. New too this season were so-called rock bags—hard-shell styles produced in Spain and oversized, angular bags. An iconic image of Chloë Sevigny wearing shoes improvised to fit with rubber bands provided inspiration for the pumps worn here with a tailored, backless black apron dress. Esber willingly allows that he likes to indulge a sense of fantasy and kind of make things up as he goes along. But he’s at his best when he sticks to sophistication with just a dash of disruption.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

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