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Lutz Huelle has an easy smile. His presence radiates warmth and confidence, like a ray of light that shines through the uncertainty that has hung over Delpozo for more than a year. Maybe it’s because the German designer likes a challenge. And because two decades at the helm of its own brand have given him a solid track record. Ahead of the launch of a collaboration with Anthropologie at 080 Barcelona Fashion, FashionNetwork.com talks with the designer, the creative director of Delpozo, at the brand’s flagship store in Barcelona.
“When I joined Delpozo, the goal was to introduce new product categories and be more open, as well as use more wearable fabrics and materials,” said Huelle, speaking eloquently about his craft despite the difficult challenges facing the Madrid-based brand. He took over the creative direction of the brand from Josep Font in December 2018, however he had to wait more than a year to release his first designs for Delpozo – in the form of a collaboration with Anthropologie.
“What I like the most about this project is that, in a way, it represents what I wanted to do with the brand. This collaboration has been perfect for me,” said the designer about the capsule collection with the URBN-owned brand.
It was Huelle’s ability to reach new customers and redefine the brand that landed him the job. “With this collection, I wanted to make Delpozo more accessible to everyone,” he said about the collection, whose prices range from £57 for a headband to £557 for an armchair.
“Delpozo is a beautiful brand, with a great history and an incredible legacy, but it has been operating in such a high segment… that only few people could have access to it.” Huelle said that the Anthropologie collaboration was an opportunity to team up with a “360º brand that is open to suggestions”.
“It’s great to create red carpet looks: perfect dresses for perfect women with perfect bodies, but reality is not like that. For me, one of the key motivations for this collaboration was to dress people, not only perfect people, but also beautiful, imperfect and interesting women,” said the creative director.
With a degree from the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, Huelle arrived in Paris in 1995 to work in knitwear at Martin Margiela. Five years later, he launched his eponymous brand alongside partner David Ballu. “In Paris I feel at home, and I think it is the best place to be. The city is still an open and creative melting pot. To be honest, I think Paris would also be the best home for Delpozo,” he admitted. But how does the designer combine his two creative projects?
“My own brand is still relatively small, so it doesn’t take too much of my time. Everything is done and organised. I’ve been doing this for many years, and in parallel, I have juggled other jobs.” Indeed, Huelle has worked as a consultant for luxury firms including Brioni and Max Mara.
In fact, it seems that this multitude of talents is a bonus. “I have never felt the need to be fully represented by a brand that is not mine, something that tends to happen to other designers, who see the collections as their own,” he said.
“Sometimes, this may not be 100% of what a brand needs. But for me, it’s easier to say: ‘Ok, if I want to do something crazy, I can do it with my own brand’. My other job, I see it as a specific service I offer to companies.”
Whilst Delpozo left London Fashion Week before Huelle could celebrate his new position, the brand has a history presenting at Paris Fashion Week, where it will showcase its latest collection on 28 February.
“I think fashion weeks are still important. At the end of the day, despite all the madness that surrounds them, they are business platforms where designers present their work to the press and buyers. It comes down to that, that’s why they are special and I think sometimes we forget that.
“The question is how many people should take part in fashion weeks, and how to keep making them bigger and bigger. If we want to open them to the public, we have to do it in a way that makes sense. And on the other hand, we have to continue improving the side that concerns members of the trade. Right now we are halfway between the two and I think it’s complicated,” said Huelle. In a sector that welcomes buyers, members of the press, influencers and brand fans, the line between fashion insiders and the public is blurring.
“I think it’s not clear to everyone and neither is the idea of who we are catering for when we stage runway shows. We should sit down and think about why we do these shows and for what purpose,” he concludes.
Talking about new projects with Huelle is not easy, especially as his future at the helm of Delpozo continues to hang by a thread. The designer brand is again looking for a buyer, after a deal with a potential bidder fell through earlier this month.
“I love fashion because it’s the only industry where you can start anew every six months. McDonald’s can’t change its menu every six months. Designers, they can,” Huelle sighs with a smile. “In fashion everything starts from scratch a couple of times a year. And that’s amazing.” Huelle is feeling upbeat, as he patiently waits for Delpozo to have its moment.