For devotees of fashion, German designer Markus Lupfer needs no introduction. He is the man who revitalised knitwear, turning it from the bulky, drab top layer one reaches for on a cold day to a fun fashion staple. Famed for his jumpers adorned with sequined lips, animals and ice cream, he is now known the world over, and is introducing other standout elements to his collections.
His autumn/winter 2015/16 collection is filled with stunning tapestry print minidresses, skirts and bomber jackets, and features innovative tailoring along with lashings of metallics. ‘It is based around a secret garden idea,’ Lupfer explains. ‘There are woodland characters, garden gnomes and forbidden fruit. We have focused on a darker colour palette and opulent fabrics.’ These more brooding shades give the collection a maturity that is balanced out by youthful accessories such as woollen hats adorned with cats’ ears, pom poms and jewelled details. When asked about his favourite pairings for autumn and winter, he highlights his sunglasses printed with images of daisies and the ‘oversized floral jacquard parka’, which look ‘really special’ together.
Lupfer attributes his enthusiasm for clothing design to his grandmother who ‘was a huge influence, and inspired me to get into fashion.’ ‘She was a very glamorous lady. Her sister was a dressmaker and it was always exciting to visit her place.’ Lupfer decided to study fashion design at the University of Westminster in London where he graduated with a first-class honours degree. His final year collection was sold in Koh Samui, one of London’s most notable boutiques for new design talent, and just four years later, he was awarded the British Fashion Council’s New Generation award. Having lived and been inspired by Germany and the UK, Lupfer praises both countries for shaping his creative eye, with Germany influencing his technical skills and the UK providing him with a firm foundation in the design process.
One of Lupfer’s most recognisable motifs is the open pair of pouting sequined lips which developed from his habit of signing off his letters with ‘little hand-drawn lips’, signifying a kiss. ‘This was the starting point of the sequin lips,’ Lupfer explains. The lips also tap into Lupfer’s aesthetic, which he describes as ‘contemporary, wearable and with a little bit of humour’, and he sees his clients as being ‘young, fun, looking for an adventure’ and ‘with a sense of humour.’
In particular, Lupfer’s knitwear items embody this youthful, vibrant energy and many contain ‘girly’ tongue-in-cheek references. Sequined jumpers from the spring/summer 2015 collection say ‘Crush’ and ‘Mermaid’, for example, and such pieces are considered by Lupfer to be ‘design pieces that are special but can be worn every day.’
By cornering the market in wearable fun fashion that also hints at elegance, Lupfer has caught the eye of some high-profile people. He says that actress Britt Robertson was spotted ‘looking gorgeous’ in a piece from the current collection, and that Beyoncé, Rihanna and Madonna have also been seen in his designs. ‘It is always so exciting to see people in our clothes, especially young and exciting talent,’ he says.
Even after winning awards and seeing his clothing worn by A-list celebrities, Lupfer is determined to help designers who are looking to start their careers. Lupfer describes his proudest achievement as ‘supporting a small group of designers in Ethiopia to develop their collections and help to start their careers.’ Helping to nurture these unknown designers is an experience that Lupfer describes as ‘really rewarding.’ It is not often that a internationally acclaimed designer takes time out from their busy schedule to think about future generations of designers, especially those from less privileged backgrounds, and this is testament to Lupfer’s character: he may be fun focused when it comes to his designs, but he is also compassionate and wants to give something back.
For now though, his focus is on his spring/summer 2016 sunglasses and shoe collections. ‘I am rather excited about both!’ says Lupfer. And, unsurprisingly, so are we.