Spotlight — Carolina Ritzler's Jumpsuit

The designer redefines the classic silhouette for the modern woman. ORDRE delves into the makings of a young label with a strong identity and an inspirational concept

There’s a sense of timelessness and resilience to a one-piece suit that seems void from many other silhouettes in fashion. The jumpsuit presents the female figure with a newfound eloquence; it empowers and liberates the body through the simplicity of its unfussy, all-in-one design, allowing for unrestricted movement and flexibility, whilst still managing to look well put-together. Easily transitioned from day to night, it has a versatility and adaptability almost unmatched by any other item of clothing.

Though many designers have passed their own versions of the silhouette throughout the decades, emerging designer, Carolina Ritzler, recognised the longevity and empowering nature of the jumpsuit and decided to make it the pièces de résistance of her Parisian-based eponymous label. Starting with a career in advertising, Ritzler decided to change direction in 2014 and launched her label with a deeply focused brand identity. 

In a video interview with FHCM (Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode), Ritzler mused that she chose the jumpsuit as the signature of her label to provide an elegant, utilitarian uniform for the busy modern woman: “I had the idea of a suit that was consistent with all these women. These women that can be warriors, housewives; constantly trying to surpass themselves because they are professionals. They have a career; they workout and they have to hold together their houses. They are leading ten lives simultaneously and I thought that the most appropriate clothing of item for these women was the jumpsuit”.

Her brand has all the makings of a classic homegrown Parisian label, sourcing all of her high-end fabrics locally and producing her collections in her Parisian atelier with Parisian artisans. One-piece suits fashioned from cotton and twill make for comfortable daytime attire, while others fashioned from quality leathers and superior silks elevate the singular silhouette from day to night. Ritzler’s jumpsuits each refer to a period from the 60s until the 00’s, reworking each decade’s trademark jumpsuit variety with a modern sensibility.   

What’s so empowering about the jumpsuit is that it is masculine and feminine all at once. It’s a staple that marries an alluring androgyny with elements of sensual appeal, often with a sophisticated way of accentuating the contours of the female figure. Historically, jumpsuits were known to be worn mostly by men who worked physical labour jobs; carpenters, plumbers, repairmen as well as astronauts, race car drivers and so on. It was a one-stop solution for protecting a man’s undergarb while working.

However, over the years, women have taken possession of the silhouette, turning its raison d'être into an essential female wardrobe staple and an iconographic symbol for the changing of the times and female emancipation. Take for example YSL’s celebrated Le Smoking, launched during an Haute Couture runway show in 1966 and deemed the first commercialised tuxedo for women. Though this was a two piece pant suit interpreted for the female form from a man’s classic cut, it revolutionised the public’s perception of a woman in a man’s attire because it was unconventional but equally captivating.

YSL launched this gender bending outfit at a time when the perception of women wearing trousers was considered taboo and inappropriate. Because it pushed boundaries and was so daring, the suit quickly became the epitome of sex appeal and a bold attitude. For a woman to don anything with trousers, it symbolised her taking control of her freedom and stepping out of the fragile vulnerability that a dress or skirt represented. Trousers were practical; skirts and dresses were not, and therefore Le Smoking and any other trouser-based combination that derived from this (including a jumpsuit) would not only a mark shift in design, but a total shift in power. Female sexuality suddenly turned from relying on superfluous details or exposed skin, to the sleek contours of a sharply cut one or two piece trouser suit.

Making the jumpsuit the centerpiece of her label is a bold but clever approach for Carolina Ritzler. It solidifies validity as a brand with clear direction, and establishes a relatable brand identity that is difficult to find amongst many young designers today. She focuses on refining something as iconographic as the jumpsuit, which has transcended the ages, and makes it her own; reworking it, reinterpreting it, and re-adapting it for today’s consumer. This focus allows her to understand exactly who her customer is and how to give her target market what they desire.   

With only three years in the business of fashion, the label offers a beautiful edit of playsuits, dresses, blazers, jackets, outerwear, trench coats and two piece ensembles, and of course a myriad of jumpsuits. Carolina Ritzler has since amassed an envious stockist portfolio worldwide including the likes of Le Bon Marché in Paris; Tiziana Fausti, Italy; Icon, Brussels; Elyse Walker, Los Angeles; and Isetan, Tokyo amongst many more. Just like Diane Von Furstenberg made a career out of the iconic wrap dress, Carolina Ritzler is making the jumpsuit synonymous with her name, and it’s a simple but effective strategy with the potential to win over generations to come.