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Introducing Texprint 2016 prize presenter: Martin Leuthold, Artistic Director, Jakob Schlaepfer

06 September 2016 by Roger Tredre

Martin Leuthold

He’s a legend in the textile industry. Switzerland’s Martin Leuthold has devoted his career to working for one company, Jakob Schlaepfer, renowned for its innovative textiles for both the fashion and interiors worlds. Now he’s taking time out to present the Texprint awards in Paris at Première Vision Designs on September 14.

Jakob Schlaepfer is the name behind many of the sumptuous textiles that grace glamorous showcases ranging from the couture catwalks of Paris to the red carpets of the Oscars. Fashion houses love working with the Swiss company because of its ultra-creative ‘blue sky’ approach – everything is possible in the world of Jakob Schlaepfer. Back in February, model Lily Cole wore a gown at the Oscars made from recycled PET fabric from the company. And in August last year, Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman starred on the cover of US Vogue in a sequin embroidery also courtesy of the Swiss maestros.

Spring/summer 2016, from left: Dennis Basso and Sonia Rykiel

Leuthold’s own awards and accolades are numerous, including the prestigious Imagination Prize at PV in 2009 and the Grand Prix Design at the Swiss Federal Design Awards in 2013.

He started out at Jakob Schlaepfer way back in 1973 as an embroidery designer, going on to reinforce and take forward its – and his – reputation for textile innovation. He was appointed Artistic Director in 1980.

As new technology and the online world transformed the creative process at the turn of the century, Leuthold enthusiastically embraced change – and he continues to draw inspiration from a myriad of sources.

He loves the experimental aspect of his work. As he once put it, “Fashion is a bit like an experimental kitchen, where you can try things out and then discard them again; either they go by the board or they end up on the catwalk.”

Spring/summer 2016, from left: Talbot Runhof, Maison Margiela, Marc Jacobs

Jakob Schlaepfer was founded back in 1904 as an embroidery business in the eastern Swiss city of St. Gallen. Jakob himself died in 1962 but the business saw rapid growth during that same decade, with the acquisition of a world patent for industrial sequin embroidery on shuttle embroidery machines, and a first haute couture collection created for Paris and Rome in 1964.

A first interiors collection was launched in the 1990s, with an inkjet division set up in 2001 and a laser unit for embroidery machines in 2006. The company is now part of the St. Gallen Forster Rohner Group.

Interiors: Glinka Pomona

Martin Leuthold’s design team creates more than 1,200 new fabrics every year – focusing on innovative ideas and high-quality workmanship. The fabrics are conceived, tested and realised in St. Gallen. The in-house production and close cooperation with local partner firms enables Jakob Schlaepfer to work experimentally and to respond flexibly to the constant changes in fashion.

Jakob Schlaepfer has continually adapted technological developments for the company’s own purposes. The firm uses laser cutting, digital printing and state-of-the-art embroidery machines. This has made the fabric processing options more comprehensive and multifaceted.

It’s a pleasure and honour for Texprint to welcome Martin Leuthold to present the Texprint awards in Paris this September.

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