According to Danish-born designer Astrid Andersen, present day street culture is a universal language. Her collection, set against the heady back alleys of the Shanghai metropolis and the hip-hop beats of Harlem, amplifies this borderless appeal. Andersen’s Spring/Summer 16 collection is a whirlwind of cultural references – both urban and ethnic – melded into one monolithic offer that could only be described as “sensitive thug.” Oversized basketball silhouettes blended with delicate Chantilly lace; the once hyper-masculine hip-hop infused male is finally baring his soft spot.
Challenging men’s dressing is not new to Andersen. Previous collections have seen her putting tough chiseled men into form-fitting lace coordinates. But as the whole gender bending narrative grows into a de facto tool at LCM, Andersen looked to other cultural signifiers to blend. An ode to the proliferation of Western urban culture into Asia is often applied onto the streets of Japan (RE: Craig Green and arguably Nasir Mazhar), but rarely seen set in China. Owing it to ‘90s kitsch cult classics like “Big Trouble in Little China,” the collection was a romanticised take on western urban communities sprouting in the Far East, MTV-style. Think Missy Elliott in her Chinatown Cheongsam "Getting Her Freak On." Drawing parallels between the roomy shapes of hip-hop fashion and the vernacular of traditional Chinese garments landed the collection a show of wit, precluding it from being a comical take of East meets West.
Metallic embroidery with traditional Chinese floral motifs were appropriated on lightweight trench coats through high definition heat transfers by Avery Dennison RBIS. The use of technological innovation furthered the image of futuristic Shanghai in the technicolour Neuromancer sense. Layering was applied generously in an effort to manipulate familiar shapes and make sense of statement separates.
As with most Andersen showings at fashion week, the real event begins at midnight. Tonight will see the debut of her collaboration with A$AP Ferg (a former member of the crew that birthed A$AP Rocky) on a bespoke soundtrack at her afterparty. The project steered by Red Bull Studios, an extension of the Red Bull Music Academy, will draw the fiercest club kids to South London no doubt – and what could be more universal than a good party?