After working Berlin fashion week, I dropped the ball a bit for London Fashion Week, with no freelance project obligations to encourage me. My application for accreditation was slow to go through and before I knew it, it was already February, and I hadn’t done any show requests or anything.
Then I kicked my own slack self in gear and made calls, dropped like a hundred cold emails. I’m only in London for a limited time, and I’m here to meet people – its not like I can let the first fashion week get away from me. Its true that fashion weeks can be a painfully vast amount of bureaucracy for a very limited amount of showtime. The truth of it is that the queuing, the emails, the invites, the rejections (silent or polite, rejections were the norm, I am nobody in London), is a sorting process, an extremely elaborate people-mixing machine. There really is no better way to meet a lot of fashion people than through the shared subhuman tedium punctuated with brief flashes of disappointment and awe that is a fashion week.
The week started off stillborn on February 18, with a long outdoor queue (where I met up with my euro-gig-buddy, Barb) for the Jena Theo show. I prophetically gave us a 50:50 chance of getting into what was rumoured to be a small venue at On|Off… and I was exactly right, as we got cut off by Health & Safety just as soon as we reached the door. Seemed like from then on, I should be putting pounds down on my bets.
The truth is, I had nothing to expect – I was familiar with none of the designers whose invitations I received. The first show I managed to actually attend was Prophetik. A sketch from the show is above. The show started with a really long powerpoint statement that I didn’t finish reading in time – this is obviously a brand that subscribes to Philosophy, as well as taking inspiration from historical costumes especially 18th century revolutionary styles. The effect was somewhat like a costumes for a cult. It was extremely well made, sturdily crafted stuff, but also heavily literal. The show succeeded, with live music and a total vision in styling, in transporting the audience to another time and place – however the clothes seemed to belong in that time and place, and not in fashion, here and now.
I was supposed to attend Jean-Pierre Braganza next, however, I made a rookie mistake about the venue. So instead, I saw the Ones to Watch show, a collection of promising designers sponsored by Vauxhall, a car company.
Kirsty Ward (above left) was one of my favourites of the week so far. She took a very standard material favoured by young designers – sheer sparkle organza – and made it interesting, shaping it into freeform loops with wired, bound edges that suggested discarded, airily inflated clothing, and paired it with extreme hardware in the form of necklaces made literally from hardware. Anja Mlakar (above right) did colour and texture, playing with oversized woven effects, laser-cut windowpane patterns, plush velveteen contrasted with moire and sheer, and padded rings around the body.
Tze Goh (above left) did a post-modern version of Jackie Kennedy – wools and neoprene that stood away from the body, careful seams and rounded forms. A fitted capelet created the suggestion of shoulderblades underneath. In a week where there was so much muchness, Goh’s designs were refreshing. Sara Bro-Jorgenson (above left) did gauzy, gothic knits that still managed to be modern – including intarsia trompe-l’œil effects that fooled some editors into thinking they were merely printed.
After a bit of a break, I went to line up for the only proper tent show I was invited to, Bora Aksu. Well, I use the term invited loosely – this particular PR company simply told me to show up with a printout of my emailed invitation… and of course, I wasn’t the only one who received these peculiar instructions. It was a mob scene. There is a man who does the difficult detail of herding cats into their separate holding pens – priority, seated, and standing. I don’t envy him his job – it seems very stressful and somehow he manages to be somewhat good humoured about it. The hordes of standing people with their printed invitations crushed and carried me along into the runway room, or I guess maybe the catwalk cave? I ended up in a high corner where I had a distant view of Bora Aksu, which from far away seemed like so many tubular leather corselets, chunky cable knits, and green lace bridesmaid’s dresses, all smashed together.
After that, I went to Brick Lane to take in a couple presentations, including one by Christopher Beales, whose sharply pointed, glamourous gowns had a linear sensibility to them that made them a pleasure to draw. This was my favourite, emphasizing and echoing hipbones and shoulder blades.
There were after parties that I didn’t go to. I am more of a daytime girl, at this stage in the game I think its OK to admit that big beats and open bars don’t really draw me.