Having previously tenured Elie Tahari and Kenneth Cole as creative director, fashion designer Kobi Halperin decided to set up his own label four years ago with an aim to design elevated, everyday clothes that celebrate the joys of getting dressed. We sit down with the designer to discuss inspiration and his unique heritage.
As a child, Kobi Halperin would go shopping with his mother and watch her put clothes together. “It was amazing to realise the power of clothes from an early age,” explained Kobi. “I wasn’t even aware of what fashion was but I just knew there was a way of expressing yourself by deciding what to wear.” Fashion has always been as a vehicle of expression for the designer, and his desire to design clothes that enable women to freely express themselves serves as the primary driving force behind [his namesake brand](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/brands/kobi-halperin).
Born and raised in Israel to Eastern European parents, the designer worked previously as the creative director of Elie Tahari for 13 years, before moving on to become creative director for Kenneth Cole. In 2015, he decided to launch his own label, [Kobi Halperin](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/brands/kobi-halperin) with a design philosophy to elevate the everyday through crafting beautiful pieces. His collections reflect the intricacies of his heritage through a mixture of traditional techniques and high-quality fabrications.
With his latest AW19 collection, [The Creation of Beauty](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/brands/kobi-halperin), having launched exclusively at Fenwick, we sit down with the designer to discuss the collection’s artistic inspirations, the pieces he loves and how at the heart of it all, is a desire to celebrate the joys of getting dressed everyday.
##### As someone raised in Israel with a strong Bohemian-Hungarian heritage, how does your background inform your approach to design?
KB: “When I was growing up, I was raised to really appreciate items that were hand-made and of high-quality. My Eastern European roots exposed me to embroidery, delicate porcelain and traditional craftsmanship, which are big parts of my own collections. On the other hand, Israel is this amazing melting pot of different cultures and a deeply religious country. The spiritual part serves as inspiration to my creative work and I love travelling to different countries as it opens my eyes to different traditions, which in turn influences how my work is all about bringing cultures together.”
##### Your AW19 collection, The Creation of Beauty, counts bouquets of flowers and the paintings of Jan Brueghel the Elder and as key influences. How did the inspiration come about?
KB: “I was walking down the streets of New York, which are very gritty, and passing by delis that were decorated with colourful flowers, which made me smile. I imagined the city being decorated with flowers and I connected that to Jan Brueghel’s famous Flemish paintings. When you see images of his paintings, the bouquet of flowers appears to be realistic, however the flowers were painted from imagination and not real life as it wasn’t possible to have all the flowers bloom together at the same time. In addition, back then flowers used to be more valuable than gold, so he created something that was incredibly meaningful and very high status.”
##### How then did the work of Ori Gersht, who re-interpreted the paintings of Jan Brueghel with photographs of exploding flowers, tie in with the title, The Creation of Beauty?
KB: “Ori Gersht’s work is really fascinating to me because it holds such a strong connection to Jan Brueghel’s paintings, and my collections are always about respecting the past and referencing history. With his work, he recreated all the bouquets in Jan Brueghel’s paintings with real flowers, and then photographed them mid-explosion, and captured a moment that would have been impossible to see with the naked eye. He reconnected to the past and created something contemporary with it, which to me, is the creation of beauty.”
##### You utilise a lot of traditional embroidery and rich fabrications in your design, what techniques did you choose to explore in your collection?
KB: “I love learning about different traditional embroidery techniques and showcasing them into my designs. For the Amber jacket, I referenced a typical Suzani embroidery technique that comes from Uzbekistan. It’s a primitive impression of flowers and I loved how it portrayed a different, less realistic flowers on a coat. Everything I do always comes from my research. I love collecting pieces of history and bringing it into my work. I also used a typical X-stitch embroidery pattern in the Carolyn blazer. It’s something I associate a lot with my childhood memories and has a lot of nostalgia for me.”
##### To you, what is the most important aspect of designing a collection?
KB: “I love to create a story behind the clothes. Before my customer can love a blouse, she needs to love the story behind the collection and have a reason to come and browse the racks. I want women to admire the details first, not the logo. Everything in the design process is important and you can’t forgo any steps. Women are confident and they want pieces that can incorporate into their wardrobe. So for me, I want to create clothes that women can see themselves wearing about in their daily life.”
##### Who are the women that inspire you?
KB: “From my wife to everyone in my team, I’m inspired by every woman that I’m surrounded with. The women that I work with, who have been with me for decades, inspire me so much and I want them to love the clothes that I make. What I want to do with my work is to celebrate powerful, strong women by designing clothes that highlight and portray the best of her.”
##### What is the essence of the Kobi Halperin woman?
KB: “My woman is someone who wakes up happy in the morning and wants to be able to express herself and celebrates getting dressed. For me, it's about allowing her to wear clothes that make her feel great about herself and allow her to stand proudly in front of the world.”
_Images via Kobi Halperin_