The rumours are true - Markus Lupfer, 44, is one of the nicest people in fashion.
Even after a morning of back-to-back interviews, the German-born designer seems positively pleased to speak to Urban.
During the interview at Club 21b at Forum the Shopping Mall, where his clothes are exclusively stocked, Lupfer sits with one leg crossed over the other and both hands on one knee. He blushes a little whenever a member of the press pays him a compliment on the latest AW15 collection.
Lupfer graduated from the University of Westminster, London with a first-class honours in fashion design in 1997. His final-year collection was immediately bought by acclaimed London boutique, Koh Samui, and within four years, the designer had been awarded the New Generation Award by the British Fashion Council. Since then, the Markus Lupfer brand has become synonymous with contemporary and chic ready-to-wear apparel featuring graphic print and bold embellishments.
A regular at London Fashion Week since 2003, Lupfer's recent SS15 line was created to evoke lazy beach days. The collection features a kaleidoscopic variety of sportswear-inspired pieces finished with neon marble jacquard and metallic brocades.
His consequent collection for autumn/winter 2015, which will be available at Club 21b in July, features a deeper palette and more subdued prints, but is no less whimsical.
"I call it 'secret garden'. The idea was born when I was at a friend's place in London for an evening party. There was a wooden door which was overgrown with flowers, and when my friend brought me through it, there was another garden awaiting us,'' he says.
"This garden within a garden made me want to create a world that is a bit mystical; a world where you could find deer and, maybe, even a gnome," relates the designer enthusiastically. He goes on to describe the aesthetic inspiration of woodland creatures in some detail, revealing a dexterous imagination only afforded by people who have grown up in the idyll of the countryside.
"I grew up on a mountain in Kisslegg, Southern Germany, near the Austrian border. It was lovely, but fashion did not exist and, for some reason, all I wanted to do was fashion.
"When I was 15, I sent my curriculum vitae to all the fashion houses I knew. I sent it to Dior, Chanel, everyone, and they all told me to go to college first. It was quite funny," recounts the designer with a laugh. He has been based in London since his graduation.
Apart from his attraction to fashion, Lupfer's affinity for prints is also somewhat inherent. Even in university, he was drawn to bold and colourful graphics, so when he came out to establish his own line in 1999, it was natural for embellished knitwear to become his brand's signature look.
Young celebrities from Hailee Steinfeld to Nina Dobrev have been spotted wearing his iconic sequinned lip sweater, which, according to the designer, was actually the product of some casual experimentation.
"Since I was young, whenever I signed my name, I would always end off with an 'xx' and a drawing of two lips to represent 'kiss kiss'. I wondered how the lips might look on a sweater so I printed them, added some sequins and realised it was super nice."
Lupfer's designs often incorporate such iconography from popular culture. These images are strong, explains the designer, but need to be complemented with quality material, dyes and stitching in order to look chic.
He also says that even though numerous publications have labelled him as "fashion forward", being progressive is only important to him insofar as the clothes remain wearable.
"I want to push boundaries, but only to a certain point. I am not someone who creates clothes for the sake of creating them. I want my garments to be worn and I want someone to feel comfortable wearing them."
At $100 for a T-shirt and $790 for a sweater, Lupfer's clothes lie between high street and designer prices.
He has done a series of collaborations with UK high-street labels such as Asos, Topshop and Whistles, but will not be undertaking such partnerships in the near future because he is focusing on building the Markus Lupfer brand.
Though occupied with several upcoming projects - including establishing a greater presence in Asia - the designer continues to express gratitude for the popular reception he has already received.
Most recently, Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones wore the Erica brocade mini-dress from the Markus Lupfer SS15 collection to her Season 5 premiere.
"Such a lovely girl, and she looked so cute," says the designer. "I do not design my collections with these girls in mind, but it is still really flattering for me when people like Maisie, Rihanna, Anna Kendrick and Cara Delevigne step out in my clothes."
This article was first published on May 1 2015.
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