IZZY CAMMARERI 19 September, 2017
THE TOP SHOWS AT LONDON FASHION WEEK SS'18
London Fashion Week exploded with fresh ideas and new approaches to craft techniques, with shimmering sequins and elevated glamour making waves across the runways. Designers such as Halpern and Roberta Einer opted for maximalist embellishments, while Richard Quinn served up maximal florals. Flouncy, girlish shapes graced the presentations of Simone Rocha and Xiao Li with the utmost sophistication, whilst Eudon Choi looked to effortless simplicity and modernist architecture. Gareth Pugh shook the status quo by opting to go digital in lieu of a conventional show, presenting his collection as a visually-impactful fashion film.
Discover why we’ve picked these top-notch designers as the most invigorating talents of the season.
Only his second show since graduating from Central Saint Martins last year, Halpern is the new name channeling unabashed glitz and hyper femininity, known for his sequin-heavy collections with a nod to classical couture. Currently working for the atelier Versace team whilst continuing to expand his namesake label, his embellish-drenched garments are reminiscent of 1970’s dark glamour New York, though thoroughly modernised. This season’s inspiration exhibited a jungle-esque tilt. Intricate sequin work adorned tailored cocktail dresses and slack wide-legged trousers. These were matched with iridescent-shift lurex tops, Swarovski fringe beading, chainmail, snakeskin and plissé soleil lamé bows - pure opulence.
Another talent to graduate from Central Saint Martins just last year, Richard Quinn is a young designer offering a refreshing take on conventional feminine florals. This season he teamed up with Tudor-style luxe department store Liberty London, using their grand interiors as the backdrop for his presentation. Blowing up original Liberty prints in his Peckham studio, he infused them into his distinct unorthodox aesthetic, juxtaposing them with ball gown shapes and asymmetric off-the-shoulder cuts. Model’s faces were wrapped in veil-like headpieces, or totally obscured with full face masks reminiscent of fetish wear or unsettling balaclavas. Layered beneath the draping fabrics were long-sleeve gloves and body suits with clashing florals, presenting an ultra maximalist collection.
No other designer has the ability to make a taffeta dress look as sophisticated as Simone Rocha does. The designer’s signature regal Victoriana appeal and delicate femininity shone through once again this season. Her predominantly monochrome palette was interrupted by minimal pops of colour, with Edwardian style layering, baby-doll volumes and puffed sleeves laid down as the groundwork for the majority of the garments. Taking inspiration from childhood porcelain dolls, the collection featured all the trademark girlish elements familiar to the designer's repertoire including lace, tulle, frills and flowers. These were all refreshed and balanced by elegant, timeless silhouettes.
Simple, easy and effortless; Eudon Choi’s show boasted lots of exaggerated sleeves and scalloped hems. An under-the-radar UK talent, his collection titled ‘E 1027’ was inspired by Eileen Gray’s modernist villa, which sits on the panoramic rocks of a coastal town in the South of France. The collection is a celebration of the building’s minimalist architecture, resulting in understated clean lines, sharp cuts and meticulous constructs, blended with flowing fabrics and maritime elements evocative of open space, ocean breeze and undulating waters. Muted blues and greys were paired with nautical pin-stripes and asymmetrical, off-the-shoulder necklines. Choi’s precision tailoring and fresh approach to feminine elegance always provides a lucid wearability.
Entitled ‘I am not a Robot’, Xiao Li’s SS’18 collection was a commentary on the frustrations felt surrounding the mounting stress of fast fashion. Floaty tulle was the star of the show, revealing the bare female form through layers of sheer fabrication, exposing the authentic beauty of human elements - a clever critique on the the industry’s impossible pressure to work like machines. Girlish puffed sleeves, Mandarin-collared jumpsuits, A-line skirts and flouncy dresses were fashioned from a vivid palette of pinks, blues, whites and reds. Oversized bows and youthful shapes added a delicate innocence.
Emerging talent Roberta Einer channeled California dreams and laid-back teenage nostalgia this season. Skate kids doing flip tricks in drained pools; lounging amongst palm trees soaking up the blazing LA sun, ice cream in hand - this was the dreamy inspiration fueling Einer’s latest collection. Keeping exquisite embellishments at the epicenter of her maximalist design aesthetic, languid slip dresses, oversized tees, breezy wide-legged trousers, crochet crop tops and appliquéd bomber jackets all made an appearance, which were artfully adorned with an array of sequined patterns, slogans, colours and beaded motifs. Much of her embroidery work drew further inspiration from street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Raymond Pettibon, who both master a distinct naïve and comic-like appeal. The entire presentation screamed vibrant youthfulness, with an edgy approach to hand-craft techniques.
Renowned for his unorthodox approach to fashion - blurring the lines between art, costume and performance - Gareth Pugh upped the ante this season, rejected the traditional runway format to present a film. Produced together with long-time collaborator Nick Knight, the 16-minute long film was aired at London’s IMAX theatre. The ambitious project showcased the designer’s signature dark aesthetic through intense dystopian visuals, eloquently communicating the savage beauty of his collection and materialising his vision into art. The film featured artist Olivier de Sagazan, known for his performances with wet clay, as well as other performance artists donning Pugh’s designs of lacquered exoskeletons, extreme jutting shoulders, knife-edge angles and solid reflective body pieces that distorted the natural human form.
“I think the advances in technology that have been around for the last 20 years are increasing the desire to change, with artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics all coming to the fore. It provides designers like Gareth endless opportunity for experimentation, which should be encouraged.” - Nick Knight
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