Christopher Esber's Resort 23 collection began with visions of the past. It was about daydreams and nostalgia and all of the things that have slipped by us as we move through adulthood. Someone that Esber has never ceased to ruminate on, however, is Erin Wasson.
For his most recent collection, Esber moved the needle from his fixation on 90s glamour to naughties nostalgia – just ever so slightly. There were bright parachute cargos based off of a friend's husband's pair from the era, paired with pastel boob tubes and clingy jersey dresses. The designer's signature cut outs were placed lower on the hips, and a series of crystal netting in butter yellow and vivid green evoked memories of early aughts red carpet moments, all reimagined in his clever, contemporary way. It's a feeling rather than a direct reference; an amalgamation of colour and texture that harks back to a particular time while entirely appropriate for the present day. It was only natural, with this in mind, that Erin Wasson would be the girl of the season.
When Esber showed his Resort 23 collection in Sydney earlier this year, he made a point to play on the phrase "the duality of man" by switching it out to "women". It's something that sticks when considering Wasson for the campaign, which was shot in Paris by friend of the brand, Diana Bartlett. She was the steely supermodel of the 00s who somehow found a place between being one of Lagerfeld's Chanel brides and a Victoria's Secret Angel – two roles that seldom find themselves in the same sentence. For Wasson, though, it all felt like a fit. So when Esber wanted to explore the multitude of women who wear his clothing, the answer would always be Erin.
"Erin has ‘been on the boards’ as an artistic reference and muse for mood since the beginning. Erin draws you in. She reflects so much of the woman we design for; timeless, self-assured, creative, intelligent," Esber tells us.
"The experience of working with together was a bit serendipitous and low key. Having Diana behind the lens, shooting in Paris and connected as a friend of Erin’s, (and of the brand’s)– felt effortless."
"It was spontaneous." Diana Bartlett echoes his sentiment. "Erin and I were in a van with Chris, we had all the clothes piled in the back and just drove around Paris. It was all low key and instinctual which is how I like to shoot. Friends hanging out and making images together."
In the images, Wasson poses in the streets. It's as laid back as Bartlett lets on, a new development for the brand which has become known for its directional shoots that cut through sleepy Australian marketing techniques. This is not the same energy, though. It feels as though, as Esber hits his stride and settles into his burgeoning role as catnip for international "It" girls, there is less fuss to be had. He is pulling the curtain back.
"It’s a really special moment to reflect on," he says. "We talk about a new sense of energy channelled into exploration and discovery; where each look unravels a story of places, chapters, and memories. We really wanted to capture this on the streets of Paris in an impromptu but meaningful way. Erin captured and owned this sensibility with confidence and a quiet power."
For Wasson, she feels much the same: "D and I are friends and I’ve admired Christopher’s work for such a long time. When you can work and create organically within this industry, there is ease and trust. This is always a winning foundation."
"Chris’s clothes are strong and intellectual. I consider him very much having an architect mind." She continues, noting that after so many years in the industry, things feel the most exciting when they are born from honesty.
For Bartlett, it's Esber's notoriously humble nature that makes working with the brand feel so natural. "Chris reached out to me directly, which was a big deal for me. I’m a huge fan of his designs. The brand had never worked with anyone externally to create imagery at that time but he said I kept reappearing on his mood board *I blush* so we began collaborating." The result of which, can be found below.