Danial Aitouganov and Imruh Asha first met roughly ten years ago as students in Amsterdam. They bonded in Hyères, where Aitouganov presented his graduate collection in 2017 (and scored a job offer from Chloé). Which means that tonight’s debut for Zomer was years in the making. It was just a matter of timing.
“Back then, we had this dream of starting a brand, but we figured that rather than start from scratch, we could part ways, stay in touch and see what happened,” Asha offered before the Zomer debut. Aitouganov added, “I have huge respect for designers who launch their brands right after graduation, but I felt that I was mentally not ready yet.”
Along the way, Asha clocked experience as a fashion director and stylist, notably with Dazed; he also lent his eye to brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Off-White and Jacquemus. Currently a member of the Etudes studio, Aitouganov has worked at Burberry in London and Alexander Wang in New York, with occasional consulting stint for clients like The Kooples and Aigle.
This year, they decided the time was ripe. “I had this urge of wanting to do my own thing,” said Aitouganov. Asha, for his part, said he saw this collection as “kind of an editorial [counterpart] to what I do for brands. This is where we can fully go creative.”
Well before Tuesday night’s debut, the fashion sphere had clocked their movements, notably in hilarious Instagram portraits of what fashion characters—Suzy Menkes, Michele Lamy, their publicist, Lucien Pagès—might have looked like as children. For all that mini-me playfulness, that childlike outlook the duo hopes to channel through clothes, the sartorial proposition skewed more knowing, say editor/press rep/gallerist.
But not unlike contemporary art itself, the output was a bit all over the map. Aitouganov might have been a sculptor had he not leaned into fashion. The strongest looks were a strong black suit or a spliced black shift dress that would jibe perfectly with any gallery opening; other contenders included a white dress worked into a whorl of a blossom on one side, or an abstract print crimped into an asymmetric dress.
The designers noted that their work is for a woman who knows her references, even if that means skewing niche. On that score, they’ll need to work out quite a few kinks. But you don’t necessarily have to know your Picassos from your Laurencins or your Amaury Darras (who created the woodwork pieces here) from your Ibby Njoya (the British-Cameroonian artist who developed some of these prints) to get that Zomer might be onto something.