Fashion East Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2014 London
A good fraction of the fashion world looks to Fashion East for new blood, and they seldom walk away disappointed, this season was no exception. Following in the footsteps of Meadham Kirchhoff and Gareth Pugh, are three emerging designers namely Ryan Lo, Claire Barrow, and Ashley Williams, who showed in that order. The standout collection has to be the first which featured bright kawaii prints, that included eye-popping strawberries and beagle puppies. It was doe-eyed romanticism done with unabashed sweetness, echoing Susie Bubble's foreword that described a "fantasy girl searching for the L word".
Take apart each look and Ryan Lo's separates turn out to be very well-made wearable pieces, especially the knitwear. Pastel strawberry print scarves that referenced a baby blanket and the textural cardigans with Percy Pig motifs, breathed child-like optimism and drew us into the cake-baking world of this helpless romantic. A glorious crochet knit cape in lime green and egg yolk, with an indigo ribbon, was the icing on the cake. It tells the story of the joyous - albeit rather insular - world of a girl akin to a crossbreed between Chibiusa of Sailor Moon (as pointed out by Susie) and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi's Totto-Chan.
Claire Barrow on the other hand showed something quite antithetical to the preceding show. Punk is met with a touch of tribal in her collection, that was inspired by a fictitious subculture. Models walked barefoot with a devil-may-care attitude to boot. Contrasting further to Ryan Lo's collection, Claire Barrow had the rebellious optimism of "We Can Be Heroes". Leather jackets were hand painted paired with deconstructed silhouettes, which played on the hands-on approach of many subcultural styles.
Ashley Williams took the home run with a collection that was extremely polished, featuring a retro-inspired 80's "Dream Boat". It referenced American stateside beach culture decked with nautical twists and pop-inspired details. Comic snakeskin print featuring SpongeBob SquarePant's pet snail brought us back to the kitsch of the first show. Especially noteworthy, were the denim pleat dresses that matched clean lines with raw hems; teased-hair glamour of the 80s was streamlined to match contemporary styles.
Participants of this season's Fashion East have reasons to celebrate, and Fall/Winter 2014 will see them passing the baton to yet another batch of forerunners in the quest to keep London's fashion ahead of the game.
- Nabil Aliffi