It would be easy to say that Christoph Rumpf’s entry into the fashion world was a stroke of luck. After growing up in the beautiful Styrian countryside, the 24-year-old designer moved to Vienna at the age of 19 to study architecture, which he soon realised was a poor fit. On a whim, he applied to the University of Applied Arts’ acclaimed fashion department and with no prior experience — “I could barely even draw,” he laughs — was admitted. But fast forward a few years and more than a few collections, and it becomes clear that fashion is exactly what Rumpf is meant to be doing. Counting John Galliano and Craig Green as influences, Rumpf’s pieces play with large volumes and exaggerated proportions — think sculptural,hand-quilted coats and angular suits made out of Persian rugs — to push back against the monotony of the commercial fashion industry. With an emphasis on storytelling and escapism, he approaches his practice in a way that seeks to re-contextualise tropes of costume design in a high-fashion light. “I’ve always liked to create stories around my collections and to have a character for each outfit,” he says. “I know people in the fashion industry hate the word ‘costume’ but I never understood why.”
Rumpf’s latest offering stands well in line with this ethos. Created during his third year at the University of Applied Arts — where he has fine-tuned exceptional technical skills under the guidance of professors like Hussein Chalayan — the collection was inspired by, as Rumpf puts it, “the contrast between what clothes were meant to be — protection — and what they are now — self-presentation and beauty.” It was this unexpected combination of the practical and the bold that immediately struck us while reviewing numerous exciting candidates for the annual INDIE Award, given to a fashion student at the renowned Modeklasse each year in support of future projects and endeavours. That, combined with the great transformative potential that his designs prompt in the people who wear them, made the young designer a shoe-in. “I always have shy people in mind when I’m designing, people who are not completely happy with themselves,” Rumpf says. “I want people to become someone else when they wear my clothes, someone they dream of being in this particular moment.”
Taken from INDIE NO 60, THE HOME ISSUE – get your copy here.