Monday, September 17, 2007

LONDON spring/summer 2008

the pleasant, yet surprising paradox of designer giles deacon is that he can at the same time be benevolently luxurious, and avant garde at the same time. the same way fellow brits mcqueen and galliano are. there has alway been a couture like detail that is incorporated throughout his body of work. the structure that supports the clothes, the fabrication, and the handwork in the embellishments shows a designer who has an understanding of the sublime yet have a capricious sensibility. unlike other designers who are weighed down by their intellectual influences, giles on the other hand seems to want nothing more than present a collection of pretty clothes that is slightly irreverent. far removed from the spikes and the studs that proliferated his fall collection, this season saw the designer in tune with the collective mood of fashion with light, airy, feminine dresses. but there was an underlying sense of perversity in those lolita baby-doll dresses that showed that giles also has a good sense of humour. he followed that by closing the show with cocktail and evening dresses that had such couture like refinement and polish that it makes one wonder what this designer can fully achieve if he ever was appointed to design a couture house. who knows, a few years from now we might just see this wish fulfilled.

aquascutum is one of the few english brands that has been undergoing a revival in the past few years. under the design team michael herz and graeme fidler, the label has not only been updated for the sake of modernity, it is actually a house whose vision is not only getting clearer, it is also getting stronger. being a house who's tradition is making impeccably tailored clothes, there were a lot of coats in this collection. the coats ranged from a slightly looser silhouette to a more structured, although not as fitted, military influenced double breasted number with a mandarin collar. the coats however were not the main standouts at the show. surprisingly, there were japanese construction elements in this collection. the asymetric dresses, and a kimono like shape littered the collection, sometimes done in somber neutrals, and at other times, bright blocks of colour. it is this unexpected touch the two designers bring to the brand that the label has become the sort of label that appears to suddenly come out of nowhere and end up on the backs on the coolest kids. well lets just hope and pray some hollywood stylist doesn't put it on one of young hollywood's tabloid bunny and those cool kids should have nothing to worry about....yet.

there is a small canadian contingency flourishing under london's creative umbrella. montreal raised erdem moralioglu, who has been showing in london for a few years, is one the leaders of this pack of ex patriots with his feminine designs that is reminiscent of classic couture polish. there are recurring elements that surfaces season after season in erdem's collections. there is the layering of lace, the tiered knife pleating dresses, the superimposed botanical prints on all the fabrics and an obvious femininity. the most androgynous he gets is putting pants in the show, and even here they were high waisted and full legged, hardly a masculine interpretation. as much talent the young designer has, this season seemed to be a bit redundant. maybe it was because almost all of the designers are in the same frame of mind that he is that even though this has been something he has been doing for a while, it almost felt like it was a collection that was already expected. he might have broken away from his usual vocabulary and expanded into body conscious shapes and harsher colours like red and fuschias done in a graphic way, it wasn't enough. but it did however prove that the young man has tricks up his sleeve. hopefully next season he will have the confidence to explore it even further.

the new messiah of the london scene, christopher kane's meteoric rise to fashion aristocracy is sure to become one of the business most enduring stories. only a year out of graduating from central saint martins, and two critically lauded collections later, kane and his sister tammy, who also serves as the muse of the house, abandoned all the hard edge sexiness that has become his trademark and showed his softer side and versatility while being on point with the season's mood for relaxed, feminine clothes. kane showed his strenght by adapting all his trademarks, like the tiered ruffles, transparency, and the mixing of fabrics and transformed it into ethereal dresses that was a sharp contrast to all the sexual bombs he delivered from his previous collections. perhaps realizing that with all the media attention he's been lavished by, kane felt the need to not only prove that he can attune his inspirations to a different side and succeed at it, he also ended up showing that his instincts are in tune with the collective consciousness. commercially, kane is one of the few young designers with an underground sensibility who actually manages to not only receive good reviews, but also can put his clothes in a shop and sell it. this season, unarguably his most commercial collection yet, there were plenty of clothes that will sure to fly out the stores. from the denim, to the snake skin and camo print chiffon dresses, and embroidered tanks, there were plenty of options here for any woman to chose from. combine artistic integrity and commercial appeal, you have with you the makings of what will become one of fashion's great designers.

if the construction of balenciaga was ever to merge with the drape of vionnet, you might end up with marios schwab. the young designer has made transforming fabric into armor like clothes as a trademark. one gets a sense that anatomy, entomology, are just as important passions of him that he is able to merge with fashion to produce clothes that are at once feminine and almost confrontational at the same time. this season however, the clothes were prettier. the dresses under neath the bandings and body braces he builds were fluid with almost baroque like prints in shades of pinks and yellows. he draped all these jersey fabrics around the body, sometimes suspended by bands that revealed the print underneath creating some form of exoskeleton to give the illusion that the body is being held in place. given that the prevalent mood of this season is one of lightness and obvious femininity, schwab manages to give that look a tension that has rarely been seen throughout the collection. an accomplishment for a young designer who's fashion understanding is mature beyond his years.

next season, jonathan saunders is making his debut in the big apple. so it makes sense that his collection for his final london show has an american sensibility. as a designer who first made his mark with his use of prints, saunders has gradually transformed all the knowledge he gained from working with it to shape the body and applied it to his clever use of colour blocking. for spring he toned down his colour palette to dusty pinks, dove greys, pale yellows, periwinkle, and black and white to provide a graphic contrast. perhaps realizing that north america isn't as fashion foward as europe, he restrained himself a little, not by design, but by how he finished his look. he also experimented with volume, not by much, but just subtle enough that he didn't seem like he was trying to grow too fast, which is an intelligent move on his part since he is showing in new york next season. and new york isn't a city that is known for ground breaking ideas. hopefully, saunders doesn't lose that maverick spirit when he crosses the pound. new york could use some more excitement, and saunders might just be the man to provide it.

a stream of barbarella meets synchronized swimming models paraded down louise goldin's first major london fashion show. there were lots of elements here, a style that is typical of london now. there was the obvious reference to the nineties, the contrasting loud fluoro colours, and a mixing of different influences that is a direct result from the city's diversity itself. the difference with goldin from other designers is her choice in fabric. while most of her contemporaries are using wovens, goldin concentrates on experimenting with knits, and she is using that fabric in a thoroughly modern way. she uses the knits to mold the body. achieving that by her ingenious use of colour blocking and using the fabric's own sense of drape to work and sculpt the woman's form. however this effect was done in her own individual way. there might have been some missoni similarities with the colour contrasting, but rest assured there were no zig-zagging lines here, and her colour sense has a more underground feel. this collection is unapologetically young and is indicative to the youth movement that london is reveling in right now. next season should be an interesting one for goldin when the fashion press waits to see if her talents can also be adapted to an older, and deeper pocketed clientele.

for a few seasons now, canadian designer todd lynn has been showing his own take on tailored formality on the london catwalk. abandoning his exaggerated sharp shoulders of last fall, he focused his attention to the reinterpretation of the classic men's waistcoat. in both men and women, he deconstructed it and transformed it to a biker jacket, a sleeveless dinner coat, or a cropped matador jacket. despite his rigorous approach to tailoring, lynn's passion for rock and roll prevents his clothes to from being too stiff and staid. there is a certain sense of luxurious rebellion in his clothes and a sense of forward movement in his design. the technique might be traditional, but the end result is not. his slanted pleats on his trousers add volume and new sense of dimension without looking bulky. even his three piece suits for women gets an edge despite the suits history of its tradition. there is also something very androgynous about his clothes in the same vein slimane's designs were for dior. he admitted that he wants to design the same clothes for men and women and make them feel sexy. in a world when the lines of gender and sexuality are being crossed more often than the intersection in times square, lynn and his modern take on the most classic of dressing, might be the thing that sets him apart from the wave of new designers fighting to make and keep their mark.

the city of london is and always will be associated with youth culture. after all, it was in this part of the world that the youth revolution in fashion started in the sixties, followed by punk in the seventies, which led to the new wave and the rave scene of the eighties, and the british pop explotion of the nineties. during those eras, the city gave birth to designers who's influence resonates and trickles down and becomes a permanent part of popular culture. the later half of the 2000's is an exciting time for british fashion, and no one provides more excitement and entertainment than london's newest bad boy, gareth pugh. true, that with each collection he seems to be deliberately easing in more commercial pieces, you won't find any inflatable arm appendages this season. there were however beautifully constructed clothes, a somewhat continuation from last season, but this time made of ribbons of leather that provided some sort of bandage dressing thats been popular for the past year. and surprisingly, there were also toned down pieces like a goth-romantic blouse with panels of chiffon to provide a bit of modesty paired with a knife pleated a-line skirt and a classic belted leather trench in embossed leather. there might be more thought involved in this collection to show some sellable pieces, but this isn't what keeps people intrigued with the young designer. editors and journalists come here for a show, and they got it, in the form of a black coat with a white mink stole made to look like a pack of white lab mice complete with red beady eyes and all.