Saturday, 12 April 2014

Top 10 London x Frank151

Each fashion season appears to come around quicker than your latest set of utility bills, bringing you more inspiration (and confusion) as to what you should incorporate into your wardrobe for the coming months. That said, more than any other capital, Vodafone’s London Fashion Week (13th – 17th September) remains to be the pinnacle of creativity from a global perspective – the one that is not hindered by taking a risk. London’s style, often labelled as quintessentially English is perhaps not the right term considering most of the capitals’ acclaimed designers hail from outside of the UK. We may not had have a Pharrell Williams take over as was the case at Calvin Klein’s end of NYFW party (no-one was more disappointed than I) but once you manage to get past the circus that surrounds London Fashion Week you will find that the city’s resident designers have a lot to offer.  

In the heart of September - fashion’s calendar month - London’s creativity is sandwiched between New York and Milan and what seems to occur each season is innovative design that sets the precedent for future trends to come. Building a strong brand business model is still important to London designers but is not a priority when it comes to the expression of how a woman should look, putting to one side the commercial aspect. Instead, the focus remains on craftsmanship and conviction. Injecting a sense of fun, as nonchalant as it sounds, into their collections, names such as Mary Katrantzou, House of Holland, Preen, Meadham Kirchhoff and J.W. Anderson are a few amongst British names that have gained a loyal global following – if you don’t believe me, the red carpet is my witness.

Relying on playing it safe really isn’t the London way. In fact, pushing boundaries is what has set emerging talent aside, allowing young designers to get the recognition they deserve. So in between your pit stop to the romanticism that will take place in Milan following what was a hugely successful week in business-minded New York, I present to you the heart of London fashion and the Top 10 labels you need to know about not just for next season, but for the foreseeable future.

Felder Felder
Hailing from a small German town and landing in the larger pond of London, twins Danielle and Annette Felder took a dive into the deep end. With water being a strong theme of the collection, perfect given the traditional rainy weather conditions, models emerged on the catwalk as if they had just risen from the waves.

Damp skin and slicked back hair all contributed to the effect where aqua blues and pale pinks textured in scale like designs made for looks that felt very deep blue sea. The Felder Felder woman appeared to be a modern day mermaid where neoprene fabrics, plastics and organza were the key design templates for next Spring. The twins have always injected a sense of romance into their collections and this was yet another that seemed to flow well. The darker black looks that were thrown into the middle of the show highlighted a more serious undertone for the woman you would find in the deep end.

Christopher Raeburn
Known for his take on military fabrics and developing unisex parkas and anoraks from military dead stock, Christopher Raeburn not long ago set out to start his eponymous label that debuted the runway for the first time this season. What’s important is that Raeburn provides a sports aesthetic for the woman who steers clear from anything overtly glamorous yet does not want to be seen as dressing head to toe in menswear. His technical skills were clearly apparent in his use of luxe fabrics  - take a lizard-patterned jacket for instance - yet Raeburn had worked extremely hard in refining his silhouette this season making shapes slightly more feminine. The utilitarian aesthetic is what makes Raeburn very easy to understand; it is wearable fashion that functions.

My first encounter with Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding was a few seasons ago when the duo had the support of London’s NEWGEN (New Generation) platform. Fast-forward to SS14, and the growth of the brand has been one worth watching. Known for perfecting the shirt – a wardrobe staple – Palmer//Harding has pushed the boundaries for refining and cleverly reviving one of fashion’s most coveted items. Never steering too far from their colour palette of well, just white, this season the boys introduced much awaited items such as trousers, dresses, skirts and t-shirts in pale hues, parallel to the brand’s relaxed silhouettes that sculpt the body in the all the right places. Inspired by rain, very fitting for British weather, Palmer//Harding have really pushed boundaries when it comes to the development of the white shirt.

Savile Row trained Paula Gerbase served time at the womenswear atelier of Hardy Amies and Kilgour, before setting up her own restrained modern tailoring label 1205. With a strong focus on cut and fabric, SS14 features a refined unisex wardrobe catered to lovers of constructed shapes and silhouettes as opposed to gender defining looks. Using high quality luxe fabrics, Gerbase delivered oversized shirts that could be mistaken for dresses and combined slouchy knits with sheer pinstripe shorts – in a boyish manner of course. Abiding strongly by a simple colour palette of whites, grey, slates and pale blues with a hint of khaki, 1205’s focus was clearly on the DNA of the garments themselves and the interpretation that the wearer will embrace when styling the key pieces next season for themselves. There is something so easy about 1205 that takes away from any kind of stoicism when it comes to tailoring.

Sister by Sibling
Fashion week can sometimes lose its spark, given the fact that running in heels from show to show really is unconventional (that and the fact that no one actually eats for an entire week), which is where Joe Bates, Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan come to the rescue. With their general ‘cup of tea and biscuits’ attitude toward everything (how innately English of them) the designers’ who are hailed as the kings of knitwear were inspired by couture and sportswear, in the way of American luxe, for the coming season.

Their mutation of knitwear for SS14 resulted in pretty pastel shades associated closely with the happy days of the fifties – yet in the Sibling way bringing urban to suburban. Bright crochet skirts met embellished slogan jumpers and detailed zigzag pieces. To top it all off, what is fifties glamour without matching sugary coloured gingham sets? The question is rhetorical. In true Sibling style the collection looked about as fun as the models made out, as they smiled in a Mad Men-esque fashion down the runway on some form of sugar rush.

Everything about the Erdem Moralioglu is thoughtful. Inspired by the very British Eton schoolboy uniform (highly posh) – with a feminine take of course – Erdem’s intricate handwork and attention to detail resulted in a very pretty collection that most girly girls dream of. For those girls which romantic hopes, an Erdem dress in the wardrobe is a must. Even his take on a rugby shirt was done in chiffon and satin and dusted with feathers. Chantilly lace, organza panels and layers of tulle made for the perfect Spring-is-in-the-air type collection with Erdem being the dressmaker of every girl’s dreams. In a monochromatic theme, Erdem replaced cinched waists with more dropped 1920’s style silhouette whilst focusing on the key details – lace and any other sort of embellishment he could find. Heading down the bridal/couture route, there’s always need for a designer who can make you swoon and if that doesn’t do it then the orchestra halfway down the catwalk would have tipped you over the edge.

Nasir Mazhar
For Nasir Mazhar the concept is simple, as seems to be the rest of London’s attitude. He just wants to make the clothes that he likes to see girls wearing (note his muse is none other than Lil Kim). A true milliner at heart, Mazhar’s Spring/Summer collection paid homage to all things East London meets oriental street style meets (dare I say it) Rihanna. King of the club kids Mazhar understands what the partygoers need and isn’t afraid to shy away from details such as talon style nails the length of pencils and jewel encrusted accessories. His ghetto fabulous aesthetic is reminiscent of a certain Christina Aguilera video and there is no way you can hold this guy down – why would you want to? It looks like so much fun. Brash slogan sweatshirts, Tommy Hilfiger style logos, quilted backpacks, monochrome emblazoned tracksuits, visors and acid explosions in an array of candy colours provide the perfect wardrobe backdrop for festival trotters next season. Don’t forget to complete the look by taking a sefie.

Christopher Kane
What happens when you a get a financial injection into an already genius brand? Christopher Kane at his best, his most hands on, is what happens. Presenting a completely unique scientific take on florals for SS14, Kane placed his emphasis on the study of botanicals and the female anatomy – no room for roses here. The seductive collection displayed petal cutouts down the length of structured dresses whilst dissected flower heads were embroidered on sweatshirts and evening numbers. Longer length knife pleat skirts were juxtaposed alongside refined tailoring and more floral brocades. For Kane, there was definitely more than one idea in motion going from signature casual pieces with ‘petal’ slogans on them through to dream-like evening gowns representing femininity at its peak. From flowers to photosynthesis and female reproductive organs in the form of silvery embellishments, Kane managed to bring an intellectual charm into his work.

Thomas Tait
Canadian born Thomas Tait’s focus is on clean lines and understated structure when it comes to the boxy yet relaxed silhouettes that make his collections. Soft shades of sorbet and a green every now and then complimented perfectly the nearly all white collection that had a serene and peaceful tone to it. Experimenting with a range of textures and feathers for embellishment, Tait’s trademark of simplicity was met with vertical colour striped leather biker jackets, billowing anoraks and slinky plastic dresses whilst funnel neck jackets were teamed with boxy tailored shorts. Only a short time into his career, Tait has managed to create a signature aesthetic whilst also being able to show the ability develop and create more softer looks when needs be. As it stands his eye for detail and precision is what is allowing him to stay strongly afloat of the emerging talent pool.

Meadham Kirchhoff

When it comes to an eclecticism that is hard to define and sometimes even harder to interpret, can only mean that Meadham boys have nailed it. More importantly, you should know that a Meadham Kirchhoff collection is not without it’s theatrics and at the end of what has been a rainy filled, hectic week, it was the best way for LFW to go out. For Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff nothing is too extraordinary or beyond their reach, be it the haunted house style set up on the runway – complete with dead rose petals, or the spooky looks emerging from the vamp red-lipped models. Staying in line with a theme of black, white, red and gold as taken from their inspiration, Elizabeth I, the duo put together a playful mix that paid homage to various things. Babydoll dresses followed by embellished slips followed by punkish style tailoring showed an element of fun yet clear and perfect finishing on every last detail. The gothic fantasy as it was played out yesterday, really highlighted once more London’s desire to go wild with its imagination knowing no boundaries.

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