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From Vienna with love and a lot of talent, Christoph Rumpf has accomplished a dream this past weekend. During the last edition of Hyères Festival in Villa Noailles, an event that highlights young, emerging talents from all over the world, his collection was awarded the famed Grand Jury Prize. Presenting a series of shiny, glimmering looks and over-structured, voluminous shapes, his main inspiration comes from another dream: that of a young boy who becomes a prince. Well done Christoph, you’ve just won the crown. 
You are a 25-year-old designer based in Vienna (Austria), but we don’t know much more about you. Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in the countryside in Styria but have been living in Vienna for the past six or seven years now. I always loved fashion but never thought I would work in the business until I studied architecture. I was so bored that I figured out that fashion design is the one thing I’m really interested in. I was really bad at drawing and sketching and I never used a sewing machine but I worked really hard on my portfolio for the entrance exam and luckily it worked out.
You’ve just won the Grand Jury Prize at Hyères Festival. Congratulations! Can you tell me more about the story that inspired the collection?
Thank you! It’s a story about a young boy growing up in the jungle on his own and fighting to survive. Later in life, when he’s a young adult, he finds a way back to his people, and they tell him that he is a long-lost prince and that he has to take on the role as such immediately. The story is about him struggling through life, first to survive (which you see in the big protective silhouettes) and then struggling with responsibility and a lifestyle that he is not used to. But it’s not a sad story, it is about how this boy shines by gaining experience and finding his own path. Each look is one part of his journey and tells a different story.
Was it your first time getting involved with the making of a fashion show? What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during the whole organisation?
Yes, it was the first time being part of all the details of the show (lighting, music, timing, etc.) but we had the best team in Hyères, so everything worked out very well. The biggest challenge was to see if all the details matched so the storyline of the collection was visible.

We can witness a real sense of authenticity flirting with luxury in your pieces. Guide us through your creative process and how you work.
I think I worked differently on all the pieces: some had the fabric as a starting point, others had a sketch, and some others, a classic pattern which I transformed to tell the story and the concept. I love mixing things, especially delicate and rough. I simply find it beautiful.
If you had to describe your artistic DNA with three adjectives, they would be…
Powerful, sensual and structured.
Despite studying Architecture first, you say you were always in love with fashion. Who or what is your main inspiration within the fashion world?
I think I was always a huge John Galliano fan because that’s how I got interested in fashion in the first place. Watching his early 2000s Dior shows was just so dreamlike, it is exactly the feeling and beauty I am trying to create.

You said that 100% of your garments come from upcycling. Can you talk about the sourcing process of your materials?
No, that’s not right, it’s about 90% sustainable. In the collection, I use a lot of flea market products like curtains, carpets, tablecloths and old belly dancing costumes. Most of the other fabrics are deadstock material. I spend a lot of time on flea markets and on local sharing websites, and it is one of the best parts of my job.
What did you think about the other competitors’ collections? Any crush you would like to share with us?
Oh, plenty! I loved Milla Lintila’s mesmerizing knits, Emilia Kuurila’s way of working with fabrics, Tsung Chien Tang’s beautiful storytelling and Tina Schwizgebel Wang’s amazing Chloé look. But I liked all the collections.
The Grand Jury Prize offers up to twenty thousand euros for creation. Do you know already what to do with this money? What are your plans for the next following months?
I would like to make new collections and eventually open a little studio. If that works out, I would love to go to Paris. I will present a mixed collection in Berlin on July 1, so I will work on new looks for now and I think a lot of things will come up in the next months.

Let’s switch to music. Can you tell us more about the track that you chose for the runway show? How much of an impact do you believe that other mediums have on the physical clothes?
I chose a remix of Erotica by Madonna because I wanted to break a bit from the fairy tale story of the young boy and decided on a more adult and sexy kind of music, which is showing that this boy is full of power and strength.
So now that you’ve won and the future seems bright, how do you see yourself in five years?
I hope I will be busy making collections.
Anyone you would like to thank for this journey?
Wow, first time I get asked this! The list would be endless but to make it quick, I want to thank Andrea for her passion, Martin for caring so much, the team in Hyères to make this happen, the models for being wonderful inside and out, and Kristian for being just incredible.

Lena Novello
Portrait and runway photos
Etienne Tordoir / Catwalk pictures 

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