Macedonia-born Risto Bimbiloski is a knitwear designer who established his namesake line in Paris in 2006. The former head designer of knitwear at Louis Vuitton boasts stints at Jean Colonna, Thierry Mugler and Façonnable and is currently the head knitwear designer at Kenzo, joining Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. Bimbiloski’s use of unusual prints and unique know-how in the realm of handmade knitwear has earned him fans such as Angela Lindvall and accounts with Barneys New York and Opening Ceremony.
What’s the fashion culture like in your native Macedonia?
The fashion culture that I was influenced by when I was a kid was the 80s from the time of Yugoslavia, an amazing mix where the East meets the West. I would not know how to define today’s fashion culture there but I assume it’s a crazy mix. There is the inevitable nouveau-riche-goes-Cavalli mixed with an amazing underground cool kids crowd.
Are you still working with artisans in Macedonia for production of your line?
Of course. We managed to build a big artisan atelier as well as a cut and sew department, which gives me great opportunity to fully develop my collections and produce the orders with special care. It’s a family project that we developed carefully in order to assure our independence for production. Believe me, that is one great asset for a brand like mine.
Do you consider your collection to be part of the “sustainable fashion” movement?
I wouldn’t say that I’m an eco brand, but I am happy to concentrate on the social awareness of my brand. With my own atelier and constant ongoing production, I provide help for the local economy of the region where my hometown is. Knowing where and how my product is made allows us to reinforce fare trade agreements with each collection. It gives me and the final costumer higher value and satisfaction about the product.
How do you select the artists you collaborate with?
Friends or via Internet.
Where do you find inspiration for your innovative shapes?
It all starts with an image for a print or a knit swatch. When the direction is clear I create designing patterns that I apply to shapes and details. Of course, there is inevitably the vintage research part that comes along.
Do you show in Paris?
We start this September fashion week, as we are part of the Designers Apartment showcase, organized by the French Fashion Federation. We simultaneously show our collection in showrooms in New York, Paris and Milan.
When did Humberto Leon and Carol Lim ask you to join Kenzo?
I arrived to Kenzo as soon as they arrived. They have been carrying my label for a long time and we knew each other personally. I was thrilled to join them on this project.
How has the house changed since their/your arrival?
I am sure that you will agree that we haven’t seen such a dramatic and quick change of an established brand in quite some time. It’s a great experience to see that from the inside.
Is it tough balancing your line and designing Kenzo knitwear? Do you design men’s and women’s?
I do womenswear for both. Balancing is never easy but I’m a Libra so that’s in my nature. 😉
What was your experience like at Louis Vuitton?
Like jumping from kindergarten to Harvard. It was a crash course for designing luxury, corporate, branded fashion. It was tough and fun as it was very far from what I was doing for my own label.
Many new, emerging designers have been using technology to create custom prints. You have been doing this for years, what sets you apart?
What sets me a part is probably my own vision, as my prints directly and visually tells the story of my collection. I also push the prints further, by developing exclusive bases to print on or creating woven or knit jacquards.