Tristan Webber

Shonagh Marshall

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA077

Born in 1973 and the son of a jazz musician and a social worker, Tristan Webber grew up in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, UK. He studied fashion design and marketing at South Essex College of Arts and Technology before going to study at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in London in 1991. He graduated with a BA and MA in women’s wear in 1997, his MA collection comprising clothing made from molded ox leather.

After graduation, Webber began his eponymous fashion line. In September 1997 he showed his first collection—for spring/summer 1998 and entitled “Genius Orchideon Daemonix”—at the Café de Paris in London. The collection received international critical acclaim, was bought by Liberty and Collette, and was exhibited in the window of the Browns store on South Molton Street, London. His design practice focused on the use of expert tailoring techniques and the use of leather and other luxury fabrics, eschewing “disposable fashion.” Backstage photography of his fall/winter show of 1998, “Sanctum,” made up photographer Gavin Fernandez’s first solo show, which was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London.

Webber continued to show at London Fashion Week and attracted attention from some of fashion’s most well-known names. Isabella Blow (who had a reputation for supporting young British design talent) owned numerous Webber designs. Plum Sykes said of Webber’s spring/summer collection of 2000: “Webber is a truly original tailor who has to be congratulated for pioneering unique and new techniques that will undoubtedly influence the rest of the fashion world … you could call it as elegant as it was edgy.” This collection was shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 19 April 2000 as part of the “Fashion in Motion” series.

From 2000, Webber taught fashion design at Central Saint Martin’s and the Royal College of Art. Within this period his designs received not only critical but commercial success and by 2002, his ready-to-wear line was selling in Harrods. In the same year, he designed a capsule collection for Debenhams called TWo. In 2005 he became the senior tutor of the Fashion Women’s Wear program at the Royal College of Art in London, a position he still holds, continuing to design collections under his own name.

Alongside teaching and designing, he now produces couture for private clients. His research interests focus on merging the computer-aided design process with craft-based techniques. In 2005, in association with Bodymetrics Webber, digital couture was used to create the first tailor-made jeans using a body-scanning pod that takes hundreds of measurements of the body in five seconds.

Ever dedicated to the nurturing of new talent, Webber sits on the jury for the British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase.

Tristan Webber, Fall/Winter 1999 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Bartley Luella. ““Body Conscious”.” Vogue UK, March 1998 .

Find in Library Frankel Susannah. ““Faces That Will Shape the Future of British Fashion”.” The Guardian , 9 December 1998 .

Sykes Plum. “Spring 2000 Ready-to-Wear: Tristan Webber.” Style.com , 24 September 1999. http://www.style.com/fashion-shows/spring-2000-ready-to-wear/tristan-webber