The Spring/Summer 2016 Collections launched in the heart of Soho – the new space for London Fashion Week.
Daniela and Annette Felder presented a shimmering collection inspired by artist Mika Tajima and the ‘mood of Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides’. Iridescent metallic disco suits teamed with sheer black or white tops met relaxed pants and sweet skirts in blocks of coral and pink. Rose and gold jacquard seemed romantic but turned edgy when made into ‘cutout’ dresses. Flamingo and palm-leaf prints completed the sense of ‘late-afternoon Miami Beach’, and Stefan Meuwissen designed the elegant shoes. With Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen pumping and Whinnie Williams, Lilah Parsons and Millie Mackintosh in the FROW the glamour quotient was high.
Green was good at Jasper Conran with every shade – from khaki to leaf, bottle, avocado and fern – making up the palette of a stunning womenswear collection. Prints were inspired by the natural world, while sequins brought to mind both a sunlit ocean and light-dappled forest. Stripes featured on dresses and separates. If it wasn’t green, it was white, and flat gold sandals were worn with, and went with, everything.
The Phoebe English focus is on construction rather than decoration, which was evident in a collection of tonal, layered pieces. Garments were black, cream, beige and white with red the single colour accent. Text comes from the word texere, ‘to weave’, and the textile element was strongly at work on each outfit’s surface – an idea key in the Phoebe English ethos. Models’ hair beautifully complemented the clothes: Philip Kingsley worked with hair stylist Cyndia Harvey and the RYS salon team on the show, and preparation involved using Philip Kingsley products. Hair was wound, pinned and set, then the resulting ‘big hair’ brushed out, pushed back and teased into romantic french plaits, bound with a black ribbon.
The idea of ‘a beautiful British rebel with an appetite for fun’ informed TOPSHOP UNIQUE’s Spring Summer collection. City-boy pinstripes, boxer shorts and floral dresses met relaxed tailoring and romantic softness. An exclusive collaboration with Wedgewood meant that two of their designs, Wild Strawberry, and the iconic Jasperware, were used on tea-dresses, shirts and trousers. For evening try a cotton tuxedo jacket with duchesse trim or a silk pyjama suit – still a strong look into the new season. www.topshop.com
The intense Spring Summer collection by Marjan Pejoski for KTZ referenced Siouxsie Sioux, Blade Runner and the Mursi, an African tribe. While Rachael would’ve felt at home in the pieces, so would anyone looking beyond the expected for strong clothes with a high-tec feel. The industrial railing of the set design by Philip Cooper gave the show the atmosphere of a futuristic construction-site. Bold monochrome printed dresses, ‘coin-mail’ tunics and a trench that appeared to be made from the same material as a tough paper bag were presented alongside zip-and-buckle decorated black separates worn over luxurious silver fishnets. Silver bracelets, amulets and tusk pendants adorned the catwalk’s urban warrior princesses.
Moon J is designed by Jay Jinhee Moon, who graduated from the London College of Fashion last year and has been winning accolades ever since. In introducing the collection Moon J tells us life is a game, a marathon – the important thing is to take it at your own pace and to be yourself. The collection had a sporty, preparatory feel: cheerleaders borrowing from their boyfriends’ kits strolled the catwalk, wearing varsity-style jackets, sweatshirts and short-sleeved tops with necklines reminiscent of cricket slipovers, as well as dresses printed with strong geometric shapes. The 50s styling continued with boxy jackets and skirts emblazoned with pop art styled phrases – including the show’s title Don’t Label Me – and patterns seemingly inspired by scalextric. Colours were collegiate: red, yellow, maroon, pale blue and mustard.
TOGA made their London catwalk debut with the SS16 show. The set design by Anna Sbiera of two flowering camellia trees perfectly complemented the show, titled Petals, Minerals, Squiggles. Inspired by, rather than attempting to replicate, nature, the visionary pieces included long flowing skirts, stole-like wraps of tulle reminiscent of the ‘ethereal floating colours of jellyfish’ and large ruffles and considered textual detailing – frills and print. Embroidered spangles resembled fish scales, most notably on a pair of boots that were a new kind of chic ruby slipper. Fabric research is key to what TOGA does and was in full effect in designer Yasuko Furuta’s evocative collection.
Edeline Lee was inspired for SS16 by Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series, which lead to the designer ‘experimenting…intensely and directly with colour’. Cotton silk jacquard printed summer dresses and culotte trousers were shown alongside tailored pieces… www.edelinelee.com …. John Smedley showed a cool blue collection at HUS Gallery, in shades from indigo to periwinkle. A long sleeve ultra-fine diamond grey-blue knit looked perfect underneath a heavier sleeveless chalk-blue piece. Lea Mills, where John Smedley pieces are still made, was founded in 1784… www.johnsmedley.com … Le Kilt’s Stupid Girl presentation took its name from the 1996 Garbage track. Designer Samantha McCoach’s cool Converse-wearing girls picked up the subculture baton in traditional and contemporary Linton Tweed kilts, while British eyewear brand LARKE optics provided the shades… www.lekilt.co.uk … Faustine Steinmetz continued to reimagine everyday garments as hand-made, collectible pieces. Working with Spanish denim mill Royo, Faustine created pleated and shredded denim through a recycling process. She also looked at tracksuits, polo shirts and dresses, and designed a vegan handbag range. Dali and Joseph Kosuth were the artist-inspirations behind SS16 … www.faustinesteinmetz.com … Asymmetric and layered silhouettes were on show at Danielle Romeril’s presentation at the ICA. Palm prints, some embellished, featured on jackets and dresses, while an organdie check and green and white embroidered jacquard looked brilliant together. The shoes, bold, layered raffia sandals, were a collaboration with Kickers. With Harry Belafonte’s Jump In the Line playing the idea of ‘Paradise Lost’ came to life… www.danielleromeril.com … Tamara and Natasha Surguladze’s SS16 Tata Naka collection referenced South American culture including bright dresses printed with Aztec suns, military decoration inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch, and jackets and dresses that featured stylised calla lilies, a reference to Diego Rivera, notably his paintings of calla lilies and the women who sold the flowers… www.tatanaka.com … Vielma London Las Vegas at its height in the 50s and 60s was the inspiration at designer Gabriel Vielma’s high-energy presentation. Foil printed stars adorned a glamorous deep-blue full skirt, and could also be found on denim; long snake-print boots lent a playful edge to demure cream and blue separates, while glitzy layered frocks brought full showgirl glamour… www.vielma.co.uk … Omer Asim studied architecture and psychoanalytics before moving on to creative pattern cutting at Central Saint Martins and his focus ‘on substance and craft’ was clear in a refined collection. Playing with length and monochrome in dresses, tunics, sleeveless jackets and pleated skirts, wood and metal were unexpected elements, particularly when used in two sculptural bandeau pieces…
ONES TO WATCH
London-based designers to look out for are Hector Maclean and Klements.
Hector Maclean founded his eponymous label in 2013 after graduating from a degree in fashion at University for the Creative Arts. Growing up between Sussex and London instilled a love for the energy of the city, but the designer says his heart is firmly in the country. The family clan, Maclean, and their seat on the Isle of Mull, has a strong influence on Maclean’s work. Six months spent working with Vivienne Westwood left its mark, while Alexander McQueen continues to inspire, and Maclean considers both designers’ ‘eclecticism, boldness and playful Britishness’ striking. Major inspiration comes from British history and its intersection with the present: the new Hector Maclean collection will address the themes of faith, conflict and identity. Bespoke projects include a unique evening dress for an anti-trafficking charity ball being held in October, the dress designed to complement a pair of Boodles diamond earrings, donated for the ball’s auction. See more at www.hectormaclean.london and @hector_maclean
Awarded the Paul Smith scholarship for her postgraduate work at Nottingham Trent University, designer Charlotte Allen has undertaken freelance commissions and projects for labels including Matthew Williamson, Mario Schwab and Paul Smith. She launched her own luxury label, Klements, in 2013: a printed collection of scarves and womenswear made in England and Italy. The distinctive prints are all hand-drawn/painted or created from photography and inspired by the natural world and its beauty, seen through a darker lens. A new collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London sees prints inspired by the original Darwin samples, Waterhouse’s architecture, and the Mineral collections, available now. Showing during LFW at Scoop London, at the Saatchi Gallery, the Klements SS16 collection, Another World, was a brilliant mix of the cosmic, animal, plant and fairground where the apocalypse (for dinosaurs at least) met splashes of painterly colour on silk scarves and garments. Find Klements at Harrods, and online at www.youngbritishdesigners.com and www.nhmshop.co.uk See more at www.klements.co.uk and @klementsltd
One of the most beautiful presentations during LFW was Unfold at the ICA. Unfold was a showcase of 11 Irish designers: embroidery and hand-embellishment expert Jill de Búrca who won Irish designer of the Year in 2015, Irish Jewellery Designer of the Year 2015 Lisa McCormack showing her label Capulet & Montague, jewellery from Chupi, who is the youngest designer to ever work with TOPSHOP, womenswear label NATALIEBCOLEMAN; designer Natalie B Coleman has shown her work during Milan, New York and Paris fashion weeks, Honor Fitzsimons, whose stand-out knitwear that’s both edgy and cosy deservedly won the designer the FUTURE MAKERS award for innovation in 2015, Irish Milliner of the Year 2015 Laura Kinsella, whose Sora headpiece was named ‘Most Creative Hat’ by Philip Treacy in 2014, award winning milliner Martha Lynn, who interned with Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones before setting up her own label, Manley designed by Emma Manley, who fuses her skill for tailoring with a love of luxe streetwear, and who honed her skills at Alexander McQueen, jeweller Maria Dorai Raj who works from a studio in Cork and learnt her craft at the Alchimia School of Contemporary Jewellery in Florence, Helen Steele, a designer and painter who creates a limited number of digital prints from her art work each season: fans include Cara Delevigne, Rita Ora and Iggy Azelea, and We Are Islanders Art & Fashion House, led by Creative Director Rosie O’Reilly. Journey to Hy-Brazil, a mythical Atlantean island long embedded in Irish sea-stories and maritime legends, influenced their SS16 collection. www.irishdesign2015.ie / @irishdesign2015
Two exhibitions during fashion week offered the chance to go off-campus. Storied French house Louis Vuitton gave a rare glimpse inside the workings of its maison at the Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition. At 180 Strand Series 3 presented a snapshot of the various inspirations behind the AW ‘15 collection by Nicolas Ghesquière, Artistic Director for women’s collections. A highlight was being able to see one of the atelier’s artisans literally at work constructing a bag from the Petite Malle line, inspired by the LV Maison trunks.
New work from some of China’s best designers was featured as part of Style Now Shanghai, based at The Hospital Club. Style Now Shanghai had four aspects: Seven Faces of an Amazing Life, an exciting fashion and art exhibition, Shanghai-London: An Urban Tale of Fashion & Creativity, a fashion forum moderated by Gemma A Williams, fashion curator and author of Fashion China (Thames & Hudson), featuring guest speakers and experts from fashion design, retail, e-commerce and architecture, including the VP of Erdos Holding Group, Jane Wang, and CEO of Farfetch.com, José Neves. Designer Haizhen Wang’s highly anticipated SS16 collection was the third aspect and a reception on the opening night of LFW highlighted that 2015 is the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange. BRITISH COUNCIL
Images L-R: Hector Maclean Boudica Collection / James Forbes, Danielle Romeril SS16 / Morgan O’Donovan, Phoebe English SS16 / AL&K, TOPSHOP, Klements SS16 Collection Another World / Klements
Clare Carlin is a London-based writer and contributing editor. @clare.carlin