The desire for easy, utilitarian clothes isn't a new one. In the late 1960s Halston created a sensation with his unfussy collections for modern women on the move, telling Vogue that his role was to clean up fashion by getting rid of 'bows that didn't tie, buttons that didn't button, zippers that didn't zip'. Half a century later and with equal fervour the designer Paula Gerbase is focused on redefining old-fashioned notions of gender.
'To me masculinity is about attention to construction, how a shoulder is put together or the type of canvas I am using,' she said. 'The feminine aspect can be about a contrast of textures. Texture is very sensual I think. It's this interpretation of unisex that I like to explore.'
Gerbase's label 1205 (pronounced 12-oh-5) reflects contemporary life. Its no-nonsense aesthetic is perhaps best embodied by the label's unofficial muse, the Swiss writer, photographer and traveller Annemarie Schwarzenbach, whose louche masculine grace reflects Gerbase's own personal style and international lineage. Born in Brazil to a German mother and Italian father, at seven Gerbase moved to the US for three years and then to Switzerland.
'I always thought I would study architecture,' she said. But noticing the construction of a Helmut Lang jacket hanging up in a shop in Geneva encouraged her to pursue fashion. She went on to study womenswear at Central Saint Martins, while working on Savile Row at Hardy Amies and then at Kilgour, where for five years she was its head designer.
Her autumn/winter 2013 collection is loosely about travel. Gerbase read all of Schwarzenbach's diaries, written throughout the 1930s and 40s on her journeys through the Middle East, the US and Europe. 'She was a busy, intelligent woman, who was moving all of the time and did not spend a lot of time thinking about her clothes,' Gerbase said.
To wear one of 1205's knitted sweatshirts or its pleat-fronted trousers tailored in contrasting fabrics is quite a statement; their absence of trivial detailing means the focus is always on you. 'I'm really interested in that absence,' Gerbase said. 'Everything else around us is so busy and if you let go of all of that stuff, people notice. Clothes are about framing a personality and although you're making a choice about what you are wearing, ultimately, it really isn't ever about the clothes.'
As published in TELEGRAPH FASHION A/W 2013
1205 S/S 2014