The fashion industry is one which depends on turnover, on new ideas, innovation and trends. The return of fashion week to London demonstrated the constant innovation across the new collections of British designers, many of which I was fortunate enough to discover. Below are some of my favourite shows and presentations I attended across the short albeit sweet period of London Fashion Week.
Upon discovering Toga’s AW17 show was to be held at London’s stunning Guildhall location, the church setting implied that the collection was to be somewhat spectacular. Luckily, in my vision, it was. Entering the location, I took my seat on a singular row which twisted and turned throughout the heavenly setting, aligning with the long, winding runway which was of central focus to an anticipating audience. The word ‘TOGA’ itself is originally defined as ‘blessed robe’, making it no surprise that designer Yasuko Furuta’s clothes are so often constructed around nuanced layering. It was my first time attending one of her shows, so to witness the unveiling of multiple textured garments placed in undetected formations was an astounding experience, to say the least.
The collection displayed a mood board of great variation. From patent leather coats to printed dresses to multicoloured knee high waders to shearling biker jackets, there was an item of clothing to fit each single part of a multifaceted personality. Decoration was also key. Jewelled broaches and accessories were frequently placed on garments, a bold display of abstract shapes which added a sense of couture to what was officially ready-to-wear clothing. Reflecting one of the true signatures of the brand were the deconstructed details and dramatic cut outs on classic tailored pieces, serving to emphasise a thorough understanding of fine craftsmanship and tailoring on Furuta’s part, as well as her own staple feature of an increasingly emerging brand.
The ability for Furuta to reinvent classic, well-made pieces demonstrated her ability to display an adorned expression of the female figure, as well as seal a perfect modern statement for the cold months ahead.
Since starting to attend fashion week a year ago, I’ve become increasingly interested in the work of Xiao Li. Studying BA Fashion Womenswear at the London College of Fashion, her staple designs are most frequently associated with knitwear, yet maintain volumous structures which deem her designs to have signature identifications. Her clothes are frequently pretty and pastel, yet are tailored with such fine craftsmanship that they connote a raw sense of masculinity upon their wearer. These signature qualities of her designs were once again apparent in her AW17 womenswear collection, presented at the central strand hub of London Fashion Week.
Upon entering the British Fashion Council’s presentations space, my eyes adjusted to a darkened room, lightened by four haunting ice sculptures moulded to fit delicate white garments. From a tousled blouse to plain cotton pants, there was an extraterrestrial ambiance in the small space, which was only amplified following the unveiling of the collection. Xiao Li never ceases to amaze me as, despite her modern design techniques and signature style, she endlessly continues to nod to classic, chic style. Here, it was Victorian neck ruffles, which were pre-empted through the primary ice sculptures fixed in the centre of the space. Much of the new clothing remained conservative with much of the skin covered, yet the multitude of layers composed with structured tailoring gave each model a natural empowered stance. Aiding this, the light feminine tones which dominated much of the collection and Xiao’s signature styles were juxtaposed by the occasional charcoal layered look – a more stereotypical reflection of the autumn/winter seasons. She also managed to inject a single strand of bright orange to her collection on one jumper, reminding viewers of her constant ability to remain experimental.
Models stood stationary with hair styled into messy undoes and simple make up of shine and dew to illuminate the etherial sense of femininity so strongly present. With details ranging from oversized peter pan collars to large draping cuffs, Xiao Li merged both Italian yarns and a heritage of Chinese manufacturing to create powerfully affirming garments dipped in a sense of complete effortlessness.
Upon entering Steven Tai’s AW17 Presentation, I found myself entering a dream-like state, the soft white light reflected by puffy white inflatables sending all those present into a miniature trance. The intended state for viewers made complete sense as my eyes lay upon his new collection. It was like entering the lounge of an alternate reality; models were spanned across a large white couch blending into the dreamy, innocent setting surrounding them. Fitting with the aura of the setting were the garments themselves, which fitted into a light-toned, pretty colour palette and offered a suggestion of relaxed, elegant style.
An immediate favourite of mine was a light brown-toned outfit, comprised of a simple white shirt, on top of which was layered a soft shaded vest and chic, high waisted, corduroy trousers. Accessorised with small squared spectacles, there was an unmistakable message praising geek meeting chic. Alongside this, a whimsical printed suit projecting doodles concerned with the natural world. The watercolours composing this enhanced the feeling of a dazed, sleepy repose so often experienced during the hibernating, winter season. Tai’s work offered a constant sense of elevation, demonstrated through his oversized woollen trousers, enveloping hooded overthrows, and frequent use of quilted textures. A hazy, dreamy vision of the months that lie ahead, Tai’s presentation conveyed an uncorrupted setting of ‘garments to count sheep in and yawn at the responsibility of the waking world.’
If there’s one way to describe Ekaterina Kukhareva’s presentation, it’s that it was an ethereal celebration of femininity. Despite the brick walls which enclosed the small presentation space, the constructed bank of moss and romantic flowers affirmed the delicate, nature-ridden setting of the collection. Models were placed in a manner which left viewers feeling as though they were sat for a painter in a century which had long preceded our technology-driven modern era. Each of their small movements were so subtle and delicate that their draping placements upon one another utterly aligned with the romantic suggestions of the garments that they embodied.
Amongst the ranging selection of women modelling the collection was a young girl of around ten years as well as an older pregnant woman. Quite simply, the display was an assertive, pure celebration of all things feminine. The garments themselves consisted mostly of sparkling lurex fabric and decorating fine floral embellishments which, upon first glance, nodded to the suggestion of a sweet, simple woman embracing nature. Yet the tightly fitting structures and sheer features served to import a subtle sense of sensuality in an understated manner – a suggestion of true feminine mystique. One garment in particular was fitting with the current identification across fashion houses of female liberty. A model gracefully stood styling a white t-shirt displaying the caption ‘female revolution’. Maria Grazia Chiuru’s debut collection for Dior last year displayed the statement shirt asserting that ‘we should all be feminists’. More recently during New York Fashion Week, Hrabal Gurung proposed a similar stance on the female revolution with an army of models travelling down the runway displaying an assertive shirt series. Kukhareva is clearly in support of the increasing female revolution in fashion through the addition of this garment in her collection.
Alongside a celebration of all things feminine, the presentation was an enchanting statement on beauty and empowerment, a true delight for all eyes in the room.
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