At Ester Manas’ Fall 2022 show during Paris Fashion Week, models of all sizes walked the runway in bright and colorful dresses that recalled Y2K style with cutouts, halter necks, and all-over ruffles. And it wasn’t just a one-time thing or a special occasion, either. The brand is single-handedly bringing body diversity to the Paris runways, more so than any other label right now.
Manas founded her brand with her business partner Balthazar Delepierre in 2020 and has since shown at Paris Fashion Week twice. They both studied at La Cambre in Brussels, Belgium, and gained experience working for Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, and Acne Studios. “After five years, Ester really decided to ask the question about why women weren’t represented in the fashion industry,” Delepierre explains. “Asking this question led to a lot of nice and really intense creative moments. It was a really personal issue for Ester, but also it was really moving to see how people can interact with that.”
The concept is simple but decidedly revolutionary: garments that are one size and truly look good on a variety of different body types. In general, the brand’s one-size-fits-all garments accommodate from a 34 EU to 50 EU (in U.S. sizing, S to 3XL) and come in bright, poppy colors with textural details like ruching and tulle ruffles. “If we can help a girl to feel confident at every event of her life, it’s really an important step,” Delepierre says. “That’s why we think one size is really an important part of our work.”
Historically, body positivity has been slower to catch on in Europe versus the United States. And in many ways, body diversity has taken a back seat on the Fall 2022 runways. There was a general lack of plus-size models in all cities where fashion week took place, and other designers, both emerging and mainstream for the most part, have only included one or two plus-size models this season. Even Valentino, which earlier in January 2022, introduced body, race, and age diversity more than ever for its couture collection, barely had any body diversity for its Fall 2022 show.
“The European side is really interested in the subject, but it really takes a lot of time to make it possible to make a charge,” Delepierre adds. “We spend a lot of time and discussion with people speaking about inclusivity in fashion, and what it all means for creative people also, because a lot of designers are also not sample size themselves.”
Last season, Manas really put her name on the map as an emerging designer to know at Paris Fashion Week, and she solidified it with this most recent collection. Along with her signature stretchy dresses, we also saw two-piece separates, such as crop tops with little tulle cardigans and skirts, and new outfits styled with opera gloves and innovative textures like bubble woven-like fabrics for skirts and dresses. The brand’s heart-shaped bags and earrings were also updated for Fall 2022 in new colors and iterations.
Ester Manas’ pieces feel fun and fresh because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Any of her colorful tulle dresses could be worn out to a dinner party or drinks with friends, and the fact that you don’t have to worry about sizing is meaningful for a lot of people. While the brand’s one-size-fits-all pieces only accommodate up to a certain size for now, they also want to expand that in the near future, and are working to find certain fabrics and techniques that will allow for it very soon. Plus, the brand hasn’t done pants yet either, purely because they haven’t yet found an inclusive way to design them. “With the past collection, we really found our voice, the style and design,” explains Delepierre. “This collection is really embracing a lot of transparency. Right now we are discovering all the possibilities and trying to shape new fabrics.”
“I think something that really inspires us is, what does it mean to be sexy today and how can we find a lot of variation of sexiness?” Delepierre adds. “It’s a fun subject and really interesting because we start a collection by discussing this with a lot with models, friends, and women around us, and it’s really amazing to see how they can feel confident in such different shapes and fabrics.” At the end of the day, that’s what is most inspiring to the designer duo.