Teleporting from one fashion capital to the other, the fashion calendar is hectic and travels at the speed of light with impeccably windswept hair. Running an incredibly stylish marathon, New York has passed the testimony to London, soon to be followed by Milan. With a brand new official space in Brewer Street Car Park, London never fails to surprise with emerging talent and please us with more established pillars of British fashion. Futurism, Japanese reveries, fusion of painting and clothing, surrealist prints and motifs were the key elements of the opening days of this season’s shows from the British capital.
On Friday, Zandra Rhodes opened fashion week, returning to the London catwalks after an 8 year hiatus. Presenting a collection undoubtedly informed by Rhodes’ own shocking pink French bob, the designer and fashion icon hasn’t lost her magic touch for original prints, theatrical colours and feminine designs which altogether mark her unique and flamboyant style. The collection entitled Think Pink, made in collaboration with Kraftangan – a Malaysian governmental body designed to sponsor the local art and craft scene – was a sweet mix of hand-painted pink visors, silk robes, ethnic embellishments and floaty kaftan dresses influenced by Coachella music festival, thus establishing a conversation with new generations.
In the afternoon, Bora Aksu presented a romantic collection adorned with lace and tulle, a bucolic vision reminding of a summer spent on the Mediterranean shores – a clear nod to the Turkish heritage of the London based designer. The collection’s palette ranges from optic white, black and pastel colours embellished with flower prints and headpieces to earthy oranges and yellow. Polished and elegant, the pieces were also seductive, with revealing dresses which leave much material for one’s imagination to run wild.
Eudon Choi presented a collection which references an oriental, polished and avant-garde training reminiscent of the ‘less is more’ culture pioneered by the likes of Yohji Yamamoto – if only he designed in technicolour. The collection was inspired by Victorian era painter John Anster Fitzgerald, also known as “Fairy Fitzgerald” for his predilection for fairies. The traditional shirt is reinterpreted through asymmetrical designs to convey slick and sober looks. Ethereal, pastel palettes contrast with functional and minimal clothing. Combinations of pink, soft greys, baby blues and navy and white stripes dominate and, combined with modern lines, created a futuristic midsummer night’s dream.
Later in the evening, Fashion Scout showcased the winners of their Ones To Watch initiative which aims at the promotion of the designs of new talents coming from the UK and the international fashion panorama. This season’s ones to watch are Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Textiles graduate Anita Hirlekar, who focuses on rich colours and the artisanal craftsmanship behind her Made in Iceland designs and textiles; 2015 London College of Fashion graduate J S Shin, who aims at finding innovative ways to experiment with the contemporary female wardrobe through new fabrics and methods; Parsons graduate and colourful collage specialist Leaf Xia and London based streetwear conceptual brand Typical Freaks designed by Seun Ade-Onojobi and Sonia Xiao.
Last season they enchanted audiences with a psychedelic collection immersed in the world of My Little Pony. For this Spring/Summer, creative partners Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman chose another element close to the hearts of children from the 80s – the colourful cartoon series Transformers. From futuristic, acid coloured, warped dogtooth prints to ruffled and fringed mini-dresses and robot battle scenes printed on neoprene-like jumpers, the latest Fyodor Golan collection is a feast for the eyes. The looks were elevated – quite literally – with vertiginous geisha style fluo platform sandals which contributed to a more Japanese vibe also seen in the brilliant chopstick earrings.
On Saturday, it was Holly Fulton’s turn to rock the British Fashion Council Show Space. Pencil skirts draped with tentacle-like swirls embellished with Swarovski crystals, bold graphics and vivid colours accompanied by marine elements are the protagonists of Fulton’s latest show. The designer offers a collection heavily influenced by the paintings and photographs of British surrealist artist Eileen Agar and especially referenced her collage Fish Circus (1949) which features a starfish on a geometrical background. Her works seem to compliment Fulton’s designs and vision, creating a vibrant, feminine and playful collection which echo sartorial shapes coming straight from the ’60s and ’70s.
On an unusually sunny afternoon, designer duo palmer//harding presented their latest collection and showed how one staple piece of every woman’s wardrobe – the shirt – can be reinterpreted in a multitude of different and original ways. Taking inspiration from the creative output of contemporary American artist Nathan Peter, the shirts are transmuted into dresses and proposed in different fabrics such as linen and cotton accompanied by leather pencil skirts. The result is a successful combination of natural materials, wisely accessorised and directly addressing the needs of a modern women.
Amongst the new faces of LFW, James Kelly, MA Fashion Design graduate from the Royal College of Arts and winner of the Fashion Scout Merit Award, presented an organic and earthy collection. The female body was celebrated in partial nudity, sheer figure-hugging garments, deconstructed trench coats and a colour palette ranging from brown, white and military green that clearly recalled elements of the natural world such as trees and leaves.
London is increasingly proving to be a fundamental centre for fashion innovation and diversity which can be observed in every aspect that constitutes fashion week, from the designs and the sources of inspiration behind them to the increasingly varied casting of models, contributing to the creation of an exciting platform for the celebration of design, young and established alike.