All photos & edits by: Suzanne Spiegoski
Known for his deconstructed fabrics and feminine silhouettes, Xuzhi Chen's was born in Shenzhen but is based in London. Chen studied foundation art in London, then fashion in 2010, graduating in 2015. Having done internships with menswear designer Craig Green and J.W. Anderson, he's now part of that booming hub of designers based in Dalston in East London. Also, a semi-finalist last year for the prestigious LVMH Prize and Asia finalist for the International Woolmark Prize proves his wizardry when it comes to fabrics. Chen looked to Jane Morris, wife of the textile designer William Morris and the lover of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who is one of the most recognised faces in art history for her famous pout, as well as the relationship between artist, muse and now, designer, which he states in the show notes in the relevancy of #TimesUp. The collection is filled with painting references, with the ankle length skirts and coats featuring a waxy finish, which mimics the sheen of oil paintings, while Chen’s yarn-braiding technique has been developed to make the fabric appear to have a brush stroke effect, and the deconstruction effects to the tailoring adds a textural element when paired with wide-leg trousers and pleated skirts. Definitely, a designer to watch out for - Xu Zhi will be a household name in the very near future. By far one of my favorite presentations during London Fashion Week.
Emerging designer Amy Thomson poses the question: What do a princess, baker and a hairdresser look like from a child’s perspective with her playful autumn/winter 2018 collection ‘Chasin’ Dreams’. With the models standing amongst floating clouds, the eight oversized pink outfits really brought the idea of fantasy and dreams - each showcasing the profession as seen by a child, with also the help from the designer’s larger-than-life hand-rendered drawings that produced charming prints, motifs, and illustrations to form the narrative of the collection, ensuring that no two garments are the same. Metallic based textures created a sparkling performance. Feminine silhouettes, with giant bow ties and illustrative frills made for a fun slumber party feel. The use of silks, faux fur, and leathers using a palette of fuchsias, baby pink, hot pink that contrast with the royal blues and lilacs. Illustrations upon metallic fabric are layered and stitched on the faux fur. Thomson also collaborated with headwear designer Katie Hamlett from Sassy Freak featuring a range of tiaras of iconic childhood toys such as Barbie heads and My Little Pony. Commenting on the collection, Thomson said: “Telling a narrative and connecting with an audience is very important to myself as a designer. Chasin’ Dreams is based on real muses, real stories and my own and there is no story truer than the one you are living.”
What do you get when you combine glamour with destructed textures? A dramatic yet opulent range. Debuting her collection in London at Fashion Scout's Freemasons Hall, Claire Tagg brought her inspiration from her travels as an air hostess. A graduate of University of Creative Arts, Rochester, Tagg was awarded the New Designers Hainsworth Statement Award, as well as being named the runner-up in the prestigious womenswear award at Graduate Fashion Week. Her AW 18 collection demonstrated Tagg’s signature layered aesthetic using digital printing to create rich textures of ripped paper alongside a cherry blossom print and elaborate embellishments, which were all placed by hand. There were structured jackets and blazer style dresses juxtapositioned with oversized full skirts and ballgowns created from Duchess Satin that really brought out sophistication and elegance. The accessories were also prominent with colorful earrings and fabric belts with plane seatbelt fastenings. Cute.
I found it extra cool being able to visit the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) during London Fashion Week (LFW), where also the UNDERAGE AW18 present took place. The designer, Ying Shen was born in Beijing China, where she initially studied graphic design, using multimedia techniques from film, to animation and 3D modeling before moving to London to pursue fashion design studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design. The collection transported us to the underground punk movement from the 70s and late 90s. The UNDERAGE AW18 collection titled “Riots of Our Own” comments on the rebellious and social disruption of the era – and what that means for someone of a similar mindset today. A celebration of self-expression, independence, and nonconformity, acknowledges the makers of change from the past and applying it to a personal, modern-day fight for the future. Real eye-catching presentation.
I'm not one to wear gowns, but if I had to (yes, how painful) I'd definitely go with San Francisco-based designer Mimi Tran. Her AW 18 collection consisted of a color palette with uncommonly rendered icy tones of gold, cool blue and dark pink among others. She is known for her artisan hand beading and the use of colors to full effervescent effect, the detailing of cutting-edge dimensional patterns evoked depth and with graceful movement.
I never thought I'd attend a secret Zen garden during my time in London a couple of weeks ago, but I did for Edeline Lee's presentation. Inspiration from holistic practices of the East infused within her collection with technique draping and most especially, my favorite, tassel trimmings that were similar to Ayurvedic robes. It refined a traditional cape coat with subtle sophistication. There were even gong players to immerse guests and a set dotted with serene topiary-style sculptures. Dark floral jacquards were in respects to the Garden of Eden, naturally along with Pilgrim collars, origami pleats, and an overall monastic tone. This collection is very appealing for those looking for a modest option but with a fashion-forward slant. Just lovely.
Self-taught, Taiwanese-born designer, Malan Breton, demonstrated strong and seductive pieces in his AW 18 collection titled, 'Omega.' His unusual colors, textures, and silhouettes pair a playfulness with drama - a consistent love of contrasts like my favorite: Hard leather silhouettes pressed up against soft Taiwanese florals. Plum, navy blue, and bright orange colors stuck out, especially a men's patent leather orange jacket. Think lavish splendor with theatrical fashion. Breton's numerous awards, including the FGI Rising Star Award 2016 and the Taiwan Tourism Award for contributions to Fashion and Media, along with some pretty impressive showbiz credits, including costuming Breaking Bad and MTV’s VMAs, speak for themselves.
steventai’s AW18 presentation brought the neon streets of Macau to London Fashion Week with a unique digitally augmented experience. Created in collaboration with San Francisco film tech experts ILMxLAB (Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division), the presentation carried us into a hyper-real world inspired by the ‘Las Vegas of the East’. Models dressed in softly structured velvet and corduroy pantsuits and flowered dresses with trench coats, and my favorite, the accessories such as clear grocery tote bags and clear umbrellas, elevated the workwear with luxurious detail and lavish material. Among the models was an avatar, generated with real-time CGI and dressed in digitally formed garments as part of the collection. Perhaps this is a new way we will see and shop fashion in the future?
Aadnevik is a London based luxury label directed by Hila & Kristian Aadnevik renowned internationally for their characteristic feminine, opulent, alluring designs. Presenting their new Swan Lake inspired collection at London Fashion Week AW18 in an opulent historical setting of a grandiose library at One Whitehall Place, the collection is inspired by the classic story of Odette and Odile, where light and dark contrast each other, like good and evil, and romance and tragedy. A woman can be strong and soft at the same time and makes no difference when it comes to undying love. And you can sense this form of unconditional emotion through the pieces, intricate beadwork with silver metal and pearls, delicate French lace was adorned with black and red hearts, beads, crystals, stars, feathers, and flowers. Sensual yet ethereal. Hair by Moroccan Oil, makeup by Bellápierre Cosmetics, nails by Candy Coat.
Paul Costelloe presented to us, volume and print for this year's AW 18 collection. For his collection, he used quite neutral colors like shades of browns, greens, greys and a pop of colors like the yellows and pinks. A variety of fabrics like tweed looked terrific in a cinched-in jacket over floaty layers of chiffon and also in a flattering A-line dress with a contrasting top with peplum. Striking yellow and blue fabric in the generous oversized formal skirt which stood out from the 60s-look show.
Hollywood glamour can be badass too. A sensually powerful collection, Paula Knorr's AW18 Collection was full of body-hugging lamé and seductive sparkles. With clashing fabrics and dramatic shapes, the looks drastically push the boundaries of evening wear into abstract realms, all the while keeping the looks as glitzy and glamorous as Hollywood’s elite. From emblazoning flares with an abundance of sequins to layering block color on block color fearlessly (hello, to the power of red), to even bringing back sheer materials, the collection was vibrant and unforgiving. And what brought it all together was Jazz singer, Laura Totenhagen, who set feminist poetry to music, using her voice and a loop pedal, made it an exceptionally atmospheric experience.
The catch of the day. St. Ives, Cornwall inspiration // plush fisherman vibes with traditional technique and a touch of rugged romanticism. By far one of my favorite collections of London Fashion Week, Korean-born designer Eudon Choi, translated the relationships between these Cornish artists and their environment to create a collection that pays homage to St Ives as a muse to so many artists and a place of artistic pilgrimage. He celebrates the abstract art and Cornish light as well as paying homage to the brave fishermen who worked the harsh sea and the tin and copper miners who were once such an important part of the Cornish way of ilfe. Since launching his eponymous label in 2009, Eudon has become a regular fixture at London Fashion Week. He has received numerous accolades for his work, most recently support from the British Fashion Council and the Fashion Trust through the Fashion Trust initiative, for the second time. Hair by Stephen Low at Neville for L'Oréal Professional // Makeup by Lucy Bridge for Streeters and the MAC Cosmetics Pro Team // Nails by Jessica Nails.