When Coco Chanel began to design the clothing that would usher in the laissez-faire attitude of the Roaring Twenties, she distinguished her work with an unusual color palette and fabric. Her controversial use of low-cost jersey in sportswear piqued the interest of her wealthy clientele and sent a ripple through the fashion world. Decades later, the fabric has become commonplace throughout the industry, but in the hands of the right designer, jersey can still turn heads.
Enter Christiane Gruber, the designer behind the Austrian line Awareness and Consciousness. A graduate of Vienna’s University of Applied Arts, Gruber honed her craft under the tutelage of Raf Simons and has also logged hours with Haider Ackermann and A.F. Vandevorst. Clearly influenced by the clean lines of her mentors, Gruber’s own line, founded in 2005, has built a reputation on uncomplicated silhouettes rendered in multiple layers of high-quality draped jersey.
While shapes of her collections remain consistent, it is Gruber’s ever-changing color palette and one-of-a-kind, often hand-dyed prints that make her work unique. The earthy hues of Awareness & Conscousness’ spring 2010 effort produced an effect much like the unpredictable beauty of agate, which was strung up on chains and used as pendants to accessorize the collection. Striking a delicate balance between painstakingly manipulated design techniques and an effortless and natural final product, Gruber appears poised and ready to redefine the use of jersey yet again.