“It’s a little more deconstructed than usual,” Danielle Romeril told me during her presentation on Sunday afternoon. Inside a dim room at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on Pall Mall, the Irish designer shared some overviews of the collections; “the colours are softer”, “quite different to last season”. When asked if it was experimental she exclaimed, “kind of, but not in the terms of London”. London is a very experimental city. With up and coming designers finding their footing, there is room for that. London designers don’t speak as a whole but as individuals. Individuality is something that we’ve seen time and time again from Romeril. Her singularly elegant, slightly dystopian designs illuminate the official schedule. With the help of the Topshop-funded and BFC-supported NEWGEN, once again she flexed her creative muscle and presented us with a collection titled “Paradise Lost”.
A Jackie Nickerson photographic series documenting African farmers in their work attire was one inspiration for Romeril. Photographer Viviane Sassen's image “Paradise Lost” (from where the collection acquired it’s name) and it’s verdant colour palette also inspired her.
When you walked into the presentation space you were met with wooden structures dotted around the room, lined with licks of green and pink paint and festooned with mint green crêpe paper. Models were placed around the room, styled fabulously by Nobuko Tannawa. One model was wearing a black dress with a white shoulder-exposing bodice with peplum sleeves. Underneath were green and white trousers in a muslin and jacquard embroidery. Another wore a palm tree print, against an organdie check dress, knotted at the waist. The black sleeves were slashed at the elbows. The palm print also featured on a skirt tied carelessly at the waist. With a plunging neckline dress and trousers a tad too long, the look was eerily beautiful. It had you questioning the protagonist in this collection. Who is she, and where the hell is she going?
One black dress with an asymmetrical neckline was a “showpiece” dress. Hand-cut thermoplastic film was embroidered on it with the words “Paradise Lost” in an emerald hue, dripping with fringe. The idea of “dishevelled badges of honour” was on the show notes.
Wandering through the presentation and observing the clothes, up close and personal, I was met with a sense of thankfulness. These clothes were complex; best observed with a close eye. Even then, you have to watch out for the idiosyncrasies and finer details. That’s the fun thing about Danielle Romeril collections. The idiosyncrasies, the finer details. They’re smart and unusual, but wearable and refreshing. Romeril’s creative output is brilliant, what else can I say?
All photos are my own