Ester Manas, the rising fashion brand

This is the fashion label on the rise. A duo of the city and the workshop, Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre break stereotypes with sexy one-size-fits-all pieces that fit all silhouettes.

Inclusiveness. The whole fashion sphere refers to this ideal, admits it, admits it. In fact, the goal is far from being achieved. It is enough to see most of the filiform women parading on the catwalks to realize that taboos are far from disappearing. Curves, curved bodies, ultra-voluptuous shapes are still forbidden. In the last few seasons, however, an independent label that has developed well defends another vision of fashion and women: Ester Manas.

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The brand was founded in 2018 by a talented Franco-Belgian duo: Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre, 28, met on the banks of La Cambre, the famous fashion school in Brussels, where they were students. This couple in the city as well as on the stage has a simple but revolutionary idea: to design one size fits all clothes that fit all bodies, from 36 to 54. The concept not a posturing or a marketing pretext. “Why is it a problem in this industry to dress a fat woman?” Balthazar Delepierre was still surprised. “At my size 44, I always struggle to find beautiful pieces in stores, added Ester Manas. When luxury starts to get involved, it only gives a limited proposal. I think that a it’s a shame not to give creativity to a body that exceeds the standards. So the committed duo decided to create inclusive and sustainable clothing, able to accompany every woman throughout her life.

In an industry that often glorifies thinness, the approach remains unique. The Ester Manas duo made it an ethical and aesthetic battle, combined with a technical challenge. Creating a piece that fits all body types – tall, short, fat, thin… – takes skill. By using their knowledge, the two designers make their fabrics stretchable by skilled hand movements, and the magic works thanks to well-placed straps, hidden pleats, inventive Gathering, skillful curtains, games of laces, transparency and asymmetrical cut. The result is a sexy, daring, powerful wardrobe that empowers women.

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Very quickly, the eco-responsible label (80% of the materials are recycled or end of stock) meets the support of the public, celebrities, such as singers Lizzo and Yseult or supermodel Naomi Campbell, while attracting in the eyes of the lookouts. . After a spectacular debut at the Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival in 2018, they are finalists for the LVMH Prize in 2020 and the Ready in 2021. Since then, each of their body positive fashion shows has given a feeling and shaking up an industry that is still too stereotypical: for them, inclusivity is real. “A punch in the Paris Fashion Week calendar,” commented journalist Loïc Prigent after their last show in Paris. They also recently signed a collection for AZ Factory, the brand created by Alber Elbaz before his death. The result? Technical and stretchy knit creations, which cling as much as possible to the body, endowed with a fleshy imprint, signature of the Ester Manas duo.

Body positive performance for autumn-winter 2022-2023: the pieces are designed to wear bodies from 36 to 54. Press office

Clothes are cut to catch the eye, skin is flaunted, shapes are sublimated. “You have to love yourself and want to show yourself when wearing our clothes,” said the designer. Their fashion is about empowerment. But it is not always easy to free oneself from complications. Including Ester Manas, who is a fan of t-shirt jeans. “I am fat and, like all women, the gaze of others is very heavy. When I see these women proudly parading our clothes on the catwalks, happy in their clothes, falling in love with each other for the first time, or even customers taking a photo of themselves on one of our transparent clothes on their way to the supermarket, I say: “They dare! Do it!””

a fashion story

Fashion can be a great tool for liberation, self-affirmation, reconciliation too. Ester Manas knows something about this, she lives it every day. “I hid a lot in my studies, also hidden behind the role of a designer. I said to myself “it’s not important to look good in your skin, it’s not important to feel beautiful, what’s important is to create a beautiful piece”. Balthazar’s view of her contributed to a change in her relationship with the body and clothing. “He always does everything to help me find the solution to make me feel beautiful and invited to the world in which we work. He serves a purpose of seduction and love, his way of drawing is very fleshy. He creates in my mind, otherwise he would only make white starched collars! This brand is me. And this Balthazar loves me.”

Body positive performance for autumn-winter 2022-2023: the pieces are designed to wear bodies from 36 to 54. Press office

Fashion brings them together, to the point of playing a driving role in their history. “We built our private couple on it. The work requires a sacrifice…”, explained Balthazar Delepierre. If we had to find a recipe for their alchemy, we would find some ingredients in the classic “opposites attract”. “They are in my class while Balthazar has three friends at school. In the creative universe, I’m more Britney Spears, she, Bauhaus. Bauhaus versus Britney Spears, funny!” by Ester Manas. But there is one point that connects them in common from the beginning: fashion. Or rather, their distrust of fashion, which may be the source of their common approach to working around clothing. He, tall, brainy, always wearing a black and denim t-shirt, talks about his view of fashion as a teenager: “I saw all these people fighting to have designer clothes, I know it’s the height of futility, and absolutely disgusting. I’ve been, and maybe even a little bit more now, a hater of consumer fashion.

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First steps

In Brussels, where he was born and where he grew up, Balthazar was nourished by art and culture. The credit given to the garment came later, on the way to his typography studies at La Cambre. Her esthete stature earned her a job there as a model in a fashion show, before entering as a student. “Someone slapped me. I realized that fashion can be used for more than just creating show-off, he can tell stories, with very different personalities and worlds.” Ester, she, from the line of teachers, dreamed of studying art since her native Toulouse. With his baccalaureate in hand, he left the family crowd to train in graphic design in Paris. Then, he went to La Cambre, in Brussels, to try on the dress, with the idea of ​​working on it like a sculpture. These two meet, bond…and cheat. “I asked Balthazar secretly to help me prepare for my exam in La Cambre. We were together, not supposed to be, with Ester Manas. He did it out of kindness and dedication, the way one helps a bag -ong relationship.” From this couple of lovers, a joint professional tandem was born. “We are very much a family of Ester, this dimension is also visible in our performances”, explained Balthazar Delepierre. Among the girls who parade, many of the couple’s friends come to lend a hand or are new to modeling. All proudly display a size 42 or more. “They want to show themselves, give a responsibility, and send us a crazy energy that allows us to continue the next six months, which are always violent”, explained Balthazar Delepierre.

Body positive performance for autumn-winter 2022-2023: the pieces are designed to wear bodies from 36 to 54. Press office

grow together

Between the two parades, reality takes over. “We were all alone at home making Excel spreadsheets,” Ester Manas said. With, in the background, a sense of rejection of the class. “If you are not from luxury and you get there, you have to believe that you are from it, that you have the codes”, explained the designer. The brand works with hand methods. Understand: pairs and self-financing. Concretely, it goes through eighty-hour weeks, nights dedicated to design, stress to release… When the label parades in Paris, the couple chose to live and work in Brussels, under the radars of fashion. “Brussels allowed us to build our brand by offering us more space, visibility, and a strong environment,” explains Ester Manas. The entrepreneurial experience is stimulating, but not painful. “Our parents do not have this fiber, explained Balthazar Delepierre. We come from a difficult background, we continue without help. For us, it is always a trial by fire, with the expectation of the seal of the general – agree”. Currently, sales are doubling after every fashion show, business is going well. Still, the young couple watched over him. He was afraid of a: “We have to leave now.” They still need to work on a more intimate revolution: overcome the impostor syndrome…

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