Fashion East is arguably the true game changer at LCM, championing the fashions of tomorrow through the eyes of the brightest and freshest crop of design talent. Just two designers share this season’s podium; although, with both Charles Jeffrey and Grace Wales Bonner, you have yourself a party.
Wales Bonner, who debuted her collection last season to rave reviews, returned with a further investigation into queer African diaspora. Her romantic ethnic boys were clad in immaculate silk and velvet threads with expressive faux diamonds peppered on their fragile wrists and fingers. Titled “Malik,” the collection was fashioned after Malik Ambar, India’s great African ruler. Aside from the evocative treatment of the fabrics – the crushed velvet and battered linen shirts – the set really brought Wales Bonner’s world to life. The carefully composed drapes, Moroccan mother of pearl furniture, and coconut leaves felt like a crossbreed between the works of Seydou Keita and Viviane Sassen. Wales Bonner’s deconstruction of provenance, status, and sexuality brought something truly original to the table.
Charles Jeffrey’s Dalston-style New Romantics couldn’t have been more of a contrast. The presentation was a burst of utopian optimism. Jeffrey recreated his “Loverboy” clubnight in Vogue Fabrics, East London, to contextualise his collection. Dressing was larger than life, with a strong foundation in 80s subculture. Shoulders were strong and formal business suiting was appropriated with much “realness.” It was “Paris is Burning;” it was Blitz all over again. Regulars at "Loverboy," aka Charlie (Jeffrey's) angels, were gyrating on the podium throughout the presentation with infectious energy. The clothing almost became secondary. It was hard to imagine the show being situated just yards away from the Queen’s residence. What Jeffrey created was more than just garment making; he created a safe space for precious youths to thrive and live out their infinite dreams.