The shopper: Essentiel Antwerp
Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele is known for possessing a personal style to rival that of any fashion editor. You can emulate her eclectic and effortless cool via the Belgian brand Essentiel Antwerp, available at Rue Madame in the IFC Mall, which has created a collection inspired by and featuring the model.
Essentiel Antwerp, founded by husband and wife team Esfan Eghtessadi and Inge Onsea, hired a then unknown 16-year-old Odiele to model at their first store opening. Fast forward nearly a decade and Odiele is a favourite of street style photographers around the world. Designer Onsea says that throughout the creative process she asked herself: "What would Odiele wear?" Odiele, who has modelled for the likes of Prada and Miu Miu, also fronts the campaign.
"She's the coolest model and everything is effortless with her," says Onsea. "We like that because we are all active women. We want to dress fashionably but easily as well."
The selection of Essentiel Antwerp pieces at the Rue Madame boutique are great spring wardrobe pieces that will for work day or night. The collection features fun prints such as a unique diamonds and insects pattern, leopard (combined with quirky loose silhouettes instead of taking the va-va-voom route), gold embroidery down the sleeves of sweatshirts and structured skirts, which are a favourite of Onsea's. The collection is kept affordable with most pieces in the HK$1,000 to HK$2,000 range.
The brand also produces a men's collection, available at essentiel-antwerp.com and designed by Eghtessadi. "We started 15 years ago, the two of us," says Onsea. "We did everything together — we made a collection together, we sold it, we did all the paperwork. We started a men's collection five years ago to rescue our marriage," she jokes, explaining that she focuses on the womenswear.
Onsea, who travels here frequently, thinks the collection will resonate with Hong Kong women who are risk takers. "They dare to mix and there are many different styles of women," she says. "In Paris, they all dress alike. You don't have a lot of different types of women. But here you see very romantic girls, very graphic or very street. They're stronger with the style. If they're romantic, they're really romantic. If they're sophisticated, they're really sophisticated. I think that's great."
Essentiel Antwerp is at Rue Madame, shop 3082A, IFC mall, Central, tel: 2234 7880