On Our Radar
Aesther Ekme: Simple Pleasures
Aesther Ekme: Simple Pleasures
Designer Stephane Park on the collection making an under-the-radar statement
Words by Laura Griffiths
The pursuit of the perfect handbag can be a lifelong challenge. But where most of us give up and succumb to the demands of the search, Stephane Park simply creates the bag herself – and the Brazil-born creative director is well qualified to bring her quest for perfection to a close, having previously worked on the accessories team at Alexander Wang. Launching Aesther Ekme in June last year (just a few short months after graduating), Stephane’s experience and innate eye for detail – or lack thereof – is exactly what makes the brand’s pared-back designs so covetable.
As her AW17 collection drops at Farfetch, we caught up with Stephane to talk about letting go of logos, minimalist design and how dirty laundry inspired your newest bag crush.
On creating the label
‘I launched the brand in June 2016, just a few months after graduation from MA at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where I specialised in leather accessories. The word “Ekme” hails from Crimean Tatar, describing a traditional shoulder bag, while “Aesther” derives from classicism. Together the name reads as “classic bags” – the notion [of which] lives throughout Aesther Ekme designs.’
On keeping it simple
‘Looking at the market, I realised there was a need for bags that were more season-less… that had quality and functional design without being obvious. Trimmings, patterns and hardware – all devices commonly used to create signature bags – are removed. Our logo (an embossed ellipsis) is a statement against big logos: there’s a certain freedom to wearing a bag that does not label you.’
‘I realised there was a need for bags that were more season-less… that had quality and functional design without being obvious.’
On evolving designs
‘Growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, my eye is drawn to “rawness”, as I was surrounded by brutalist architecture. One of my favourite architects is Lina Bo Bardi, whose buildings are monumental, but not overimposing: clean lines with function. Living in Denmark has added a sense of polished minimalism to my previous aesthetics; working in fashion and choosing not to follow trends is probably one of the influences I’ve had from Danish culture.’
On problem solving
‘Looking at people is very inspiring, especially when they are struggling with carrying things. That is a design problem, and it is a great source of inspiration. Why does a woman carry 2 bags? Why in certain cities do all women wear cross-body? I get inspiration from anyone carrying anything: laundry bags, grocery bags, suitcases… Anything that’s a container or has a handle!’
‘The Aesther Ekme woman has a certain strength of character and confidence that makes her stand out from the crowd.’
On the customer
‘The Aesther Ekme woman has a certain strength of character and confidence that makes her stand out from the crowd without having to be “loud” in every sense of the word. [It] is for that woman that does not need to be labelled.’
On the AW17 collection
‘I love the Sac and the Barrel. The Sac is a very functional bag but does not scream function. It’s soft and structured at the same time, has this balance of femininity and masculinity. The Barrel is a shape from SS17 that was carried over for AW17. It is a very classic doctor’s bag shape, with a clean magnetic closure. I love it because it changes the way women carry themselves: it gives a different posture than a shoulder bag.’
Biggest source of satisfaction?
‘Finding solutions to aesthetic and functional design problems.’
Single biggest learning to date?
‘Everything is possible if you know how to ask the right questions.’
Describe the brand, in 3 words…
‘Atemporal, yet relevant.’
3 things in your handbag?
‘Chargers, water, notebook.’