Meet the Designer Who Launched a Hit Label From His Apartment

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Photo: Jerome Sessini/Magnum Photos

Some of Paris Fashion Week’s biggest shows take place under the gilded rotunda of the Grand Palais, but they’re not all such spectacle-driven affairs. This spring, Antonin Tron of the freshly minted label Atlein held his in … his apartment. “My mom was there serving coffee. Some of the models were my friends,” the designer recalls.

How does an unknown designer convince high-ranking fashion editors to troop through his galley kitchen for a debut fashion show? Tron is quick to credit the adventurous American press. “On the very first day, the Americans were there because they’re very curious,” he says. “It was a bit of word of mouth, actually.”

Photo: Jerome Sessini/Magnum Photos

It’s possible that Tron’s designs appealed to Stateside editors because of their classic American-sportswear appeal. “Even though I’m French — I’m very French,” laughs the designer, “there’s something I always appreciated about American designers. They’re really good at making great product, but also they have this sportswear [approach].”

He looked to 1940s sportswear pioneer Claire McCardell for inspiration for the lineup of all-jersey looks, like a slinky dress with a cutout back and a sporty striped turtleneck that would fit right in at a 1970s chalet. Even the concept was born out of simplicity: “I worked with the fabric that the factory had in stock because I couldn’t afford to do something too big.”

Photo: Jerome Sessini/Magnum Photos

Tron juggles his fledgling line with freelance consulting work for Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. (He’s previously done stints at Raf Simons, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton.) Of Gvasalia, he says, “He has a very modern take on things, and it’s really refreshing compared to a lot of how the big houses have been run.”

This season, Tron will once again be showing in his apartment. “The idea is to grow slowly and steadily,” he says. “It’s not to overdo it.”