On Wednesday evening Westminster University’s BA Fashion students showed their graduate collections. The course is led by Andrew Groves who himself is part of the living fabric of London’s fashion story and the sterling presence on the front row (Cozette McCreery from Sibling, Princess Julia, Hilary Alexander, Charlie Porter among many others) the seriousness with which this course is taken by the industry. But the evening belonged to the young designers who impressed with accomplished collections demonstrating unique starting points and some fascinating shared zeitgeists. I tried to squeeze it into a top 10 but there was too much to fit in. I look forward to a season of discovering new fashion talent in London.
All photos courtesy of Chris Moore.
1. Chloe McGeehan impressed with vibrant colours and sculptured draping which artfully avoided swamping the models.
2. Craig Green was clearly an influence on Lucy James’s menswear but the work explored some interesting textures through painterly treatments and degraded fabrics.
3. Roberta Einer’s work introduced an element of folksy detail, part Rajasthan part Hundertwasser with a good dose of Goldfrapp-enhanced glam rock thrown in for good measure.
4. Georgia Mottershead’s work evoked vintage US mail bags and the form and functionality of American fit-for-purpose workwear
5. Kate Brittain had the high-fashion knitwear expert to my right exclaiming the techniques on show, featuring crochet and leather in flamenco ruffles.
6. Daniel McKinley’s work explored the tension between the roughness of workwear and vivid painted surfaces with some elegant outlines.
7. Samuel Best’s menswear was also about contrasts here between loose flowing shapes and degraded, shredded fabrics.
8. One of the more avant-garde offerings, Matt Witcombe’s work explored padding, scaled up proportions and the boundaries between surfaces.
9. Robert Newman’s was one of the most accomplished menswear collections featuring a gorgeous colour palette, folky motifs, print and elaborate fastenings.
10. Charlotte Scott’s menswear vision brought Cubist shapes and a Pop Art sensibility to life while playing games with flat planes, and perspective. Another very strong colour palette.
11. Robyn Priestly shook things up and had the front row buzzing with her uncompromising blend of lace, boxing boots and flowing ecclesiastical robes, in all-white.
Mr Porter launches Exclusives collection with Japanese brands Blackmeans, Beams Plus, Beams T, Remi Relief and Neighborhood.
One of the highlights of The Selby’s ingenious fashion book, Fashionable Selby last year (which took a look at the live/work spaces inhabited by some of the world’s most intriguing fashion creatives), was discovering Blackmeans, three Tokyo designers, for whom original, customised hardcore punk biker jackets provide endless visual inspiration. I was therefore delighted to discover this band of badass creatives included in Mr Porter, the global menswear online retail hub’s batch of designer collaborations with some of Japan’s most exclusive, cult brands. Launching tomorrow, (except for the Blackmeans pieces that will be live from Friday) the Exclusives collaborations include Blackmeans alongside Neighborhood, Beams Plus, Beams T and Remi Relief. It’s no secret that Japanese men take their fashion seriously, and these brands represent some of the country’s prominent style tribes, from Beams Plus’s Palm Springs inspired Americana, to Neighborhood’s indigo-worshipping sportswear styles to Remi Relief, a Japanese take on surfwear. However, the noir aesthetic of Blackmeans, with their reverentially authentic studded bikers and graphics evoking Crass, Discharge and Black Flag era hardcore graphics wins the Sharpened Lead vote for coolest brand in the pack.
Cursors poised now, I’ll see you in the digital queue, elbows at the ready. Remember, the Blackmeans pieces will be available from Friday.
Below, images from Fashionable Selby and then a selection of items from Blackmeans, Neighborhood, Remi Relief and Beams Plus to whet the appetite.
Visiting New York for fashion week a few years ago, Public School were one of the brands I came across, and enthused about to a then largely disinterested audience in the UK, still hyped up on the success of London C0llections: Men at drawing the fashion world’s attention to menswear and the emergence of homegrown talent in particular. I continued to cover the brand’s presentations for The Guardian, which usually took place at Milk Studios where other New York menswear hopefuls such as Rochambeau, staged concurrent presentations on the Sunday night of fashion week, providing focus in a city where menswear is illiberally sprinkled across the week’s schedule. From the first, designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow stuck to a clear formula; a refined version of New York’s no-fuss streetwear, in the form of MA1s, biker jackets and mesh layers in strong monochromes. Gradually, the presentations got busier as the buzz around the brand built.
Fast forward a year and the brand won the CFDA award for menswear, graduating to a fully-fledged runway show along the way. Their Spring/Summer show last September was a packed house, attended by the likes of Anna Wintour and streamed online to the uninvited. It featured a live performance by Twin Shadow, personifying the brand in iconic white-on-white stage gear. In another breakthrough, Public School is one of the very few New York designers being stocked by both Mr Porter and Matches here in the UK. Despite a name that doesn’t translate well in the topsy-turvy terms of the British education system (they’re hardly old Etonians), it seems the brand is finding success here as well. Which brings us to the peak of the story, with Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow recently being appointed as creative directors of DKNY. As Donna Karan’s youth focused line, initially inspired by her daughter Gaby, the iconic brand had already taken steps to revitalise itself through a collaboration with Opening Ceremony, including an ad campaign featuring the likes of Kim Ann Foxman and Cara Delevigne, representing today’s equivalent of the brand’s ’90’s heyday. From the outset, Osborne and Chow have been celebrated as local boys, their streetwear inspiration drawn from the very streets they grew up on, their denim proudly produced in-State. A perfect match you might say, with Manhattan stretched before them as a giant billboard in waiting. But New York today is not the city it was, like London, its gentrification is the subject of passionate debate as cash-strapped creatives feel pushed out to make room for commodified versions of its grittier past. In this climate, it will be interesting to see how successfully the designers can apply their tough, minimal edge to the over-familiar, over-branded DKNY and how compelling the NY in DKNY proves to be.
Previous coverage of Public School:
And from The Guardian:
My own experience of Hong Kong is fleeting, I went there as a pit stop on a Grand Tour of Asia, and while it definitely left an impression: buses and buildings slim enough to slot into a toaster, a nostalgic ‘old London’ vibe, some heavenly dinners, and of course shopping, I can’t say my finger is on the pulse of what’s happening there. Cue the I.T Post, the publication from I.T, the Hong Kong based, “multi retailer” (they have own-name stores in HK and mainland China, acquired A Bathing Ape in 2012 and collaborate with everyone from French Connection to Galeries Lafayette).
While the name may conjure up the idea of a newsletter from your office I.T. manager, the Spring Summer issue of the I.T Post features some startlingly beautiful fashion editorial, with content spanning art, philosophy fashion, illustration and photography. While much of the fashion featured is international (from Christopher Shannon to Saint Laurent), the aesthetic is original and gives an insight into HK’s multi-faceted viewpoint on the world.
Kempes a new British/Japanese brand launched last week, and has already taken over the coveted window display at East London landmark store, Present.
Small but perfectly formed, the Kempes capsule collection consists of three T-shirts, two crew-neck sweats and two denim washes, expertly cut by British specialist craftsmen, using impeccably-sourced Japanese fabrics.
What makes these simple pieces unique is an unmistakable sewn-on patch inspired by the ‘hippy trail’ of the late ’60s and early 70s, which took London’s bohemian set on a psychedelically enhanced Grand Tour, from then hippy haven, Ibiza to Goa and Bali in east Asia, via Istanbul’s Pudding Shop.
Each patch’s psychedelic sunburst design comes in an entirely different colourway, designed to set off the fabric tone of the T shirt it embellishes: the two crew-neck sweats in slate grey and tangerine, the three T-shirts in ivory, turquoise and sunlight yellow.
In terms of the jeans, the denim is the finest quality 15-ounce Japanese denim and comes in a stiff raw version and a stone wash, both featuring the emblematic sunburst patch on the back of the jean.
Such a simple, casual collection wouldn’t always attract my eye but something about the colourways, the attention to detail and that psychedelic patch feels right for Summer 2015, – not feeling much like a Summer of Love currently, given the recent election result, but definitely like a time to escape into the sunset.
CIFF and CIFF RAVEN the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (and its menswear extension), is set to follow-up its Shoreditch House bash a couple of weeks ago with a follow-up event at Soho House in Berlin this coming week, spreading the event’s reputation as one of the premier platforms of its kind in Northern Europe. The Shoreditch House celebration (in collaboration with Starworks PR group) brought some of London’s best -known fashion press and buyers to the ‘Secret Garden’ space on the roof of Shoreditch House where Horsemeat Disco’s DJ Severino provided a louche London soundtrack to the evening, and Scandi-style canapés were served. The profile of Danish fashion has been raised in London by Astrid Andersen’s shows at LC:M, and in the form of inimitable Danish fashion lecturer/designer Peter Jensen. CIFF of course showcases new Danish talent such as menswear designer Martin Asbjorn, but in the international spirit of the event, Britain’s own E.Tautz and superlative curators Touba London were also represented at Shoreditch House. Danish design is renowned the world over for furniture and interiors, and Copenhagen is regularly voted one of the world’s most liveable cities, making it a perfect host city for international fashion events like CIFF. If the Shoreditch House night is anything to go by, the Danes are also experts in turning on the charm and partying like a local in London, and now Berlin.
CIFF takes place in Copenhagen, 5-7 August.