Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chalayan // Fall 2016 //

Money is always talked about in fashion, but in specific contexts. How much does that cost? How much did they make? By what percentage are there sales up? How much is a stock? These questions, I assume, are asked on the regular. Fashion designers, however, don’t always comment on economics in their collections. They talk about economic constraints—Richard Malone made a collection in his childhood bedroom, Molly Goddard in her mom’s spare room. Often, designers don’t channel this into their garments. Perhaps because of the hefty price tag associated with a piece of work. 

Hussein Chalayan was looked to the country with the largest economy in Europe for his Fall 2016 collection: Germany. It is the third largest exporter in the world with 1.13 trillion euros in goods and services exported. The fashion industry, by comparison, is worth 1.2 trillion dollars—which equates to approximately €1.07 trillion. Northwest Europe inspired the collection named “Teutonic”, which denotes to the characteristics of Germans. The speed and efficiency of the German auto industry, and a car zooming down the tree-lined asphalt of the autobahn. The image of that, the one you’ve conjured in your mind, stems from German fairy tales. The brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, haunted readers with their harshly depicted stories of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Briar-Rose, Snow White and other characters that have since been spoofed brilliantly by Disney. These odes to German culture represent the richer elements of things. Conversely, “the pressure of past events that took place in Europe”—World Wars aren’t explicitly states, presumably not to take away the romance that the collection tries to build—were referenced also. Military themes permeate the collection. They are hidden with large pleats. 

High functionality, quasi-austereness, severe tailoring—three words correlating to German dressing—can all lead to a loss of character. This collection was intended to relieve that stress, with subtle reference to Berlin club culture. (Scantily-clad women and men hit the runway). However, sometimes it caught too caught up in the darkness and it forgot to have a sense of humour. Indeed, it did have a sense of humour; a top and trousers printed with a map of the autobahn, replacing destinations with words taken from fairy tales, the anatomy of a garment printed on dresses.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rejina Pyo // Fall 2016 //

A few years back, Rejina Pyo was the label to know— the new kid on the block was like a descendent of Roksanda Ilincic’s colour blocking genius that invigorated London Fashion Week for so many seasons. (Notably, she was Roksanda’s first assistant).  Now 2016, both designers have veered off into different directions. Roksanda is one of the established bunch of London designers that started up 10 years ago and Rejina is still in the emerging stages of her burgeoning business. Fall 2016 marks Rejina’s first season on the official London Fashion Week schedule. Presenting at the Condé Nast College of Fashion on Tuesday—the final day of the week—her collection was an exercise in structure, form and fit. Those three words have become the more potent part of Rejina’s aesthetic. Her expert colourist ways bookmarked her as a designer to watch but its her use of shape that tantalised audiences nowadays. 

Play on proportion is not limited the clothing. Collaborating with London-based jewellery label Uribe and Korean-based Yuul Yie on shoes, the collection was enhanced with these new additions. For the jewellery “[she] wanted the shapes to be quite unusual and not associated with any specific time.” Timeless they are: the mid-level luxury pieces come in swirling shapes and feature marble ball details. Telling WWD also that “the hardware we wanted to use for the shoes made it difficult to maintain the comfort. Yuul Yie had the knowledge to guide [her] through the process and ensure that [they] didn’t sacrifice [their] aesthetic.” With an oddly shaped heel, the shoes add another artful touch to the collection.
A slew of models revolved sporting different looks. Opening with a strong black overcoat, and a white suit with a bar-esqe jacket and wide-leg trousers, this was a mere taster into the mastery that ensured. Asymmetric, one shouldered tops with button details, silver foiled biker jackets, wrap skirts, panelled day coats, and abstractly printed dresses. Inspired, as always by abstract art, and the world around us, Rejina’s collection looked—as seen on the brand’s Instagrams—the unnoticed gems in every day life. A silver, nondescript door, framed with a dash of red paint and next to an cobalt blue wall. As aforementioned, she has a keen eye for colour. She transformed this into the colour palette which featured red, silver and a similar shade of blue. The abstract elements in the collection came in the prints and shaping. 

Morphing everyday, banal pieces into artful works is a talent which Rejina Pyo possesses. London promotes this anti-banality ethos and Rejina Pyo’s distinction is she creates easy pieces—sweaters, jackets, dresses—that are far superior to the ones elsewhere. As she’s lesser known by the masses, her designs haven’t reached the radar of mammoth retailers like Zara or Topshop. Savour that while it lasts, because there are big things ahead for this rising star.
rejinapyo.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Koché // Fall 2016 //

The Parisian New Wave designers have a better knack for selling product and the essence of a product than I feel London designers do. There are some unrivalled gems in London like Molly Goddard and Faustine Steinmetz, but in Paris the idea of an “attitude” comes effortlessly. Look at Vetements, with jeans retailing at €1200 or €700 for hoodies: the idea being to buy into the Vetements lifestyle. Another emerging brand is Y/Project, who present a largely unisex offering with 50% catering to menswear and womenswear, all together it’s peopleswear. Koché, designed by Christelle Kocher is a brand that I’ve been fervently supporting since news of her LVMH Prize shortlisting came through. I did my research and learned she is an erudite creative. Her resume lists Emporio Armani, Martine Sitbon, Chloé, Sonia Rykiel, Dries van Noten, Bottega Veneta, and she’s currently artistic director of Maison Lemarié. Maison Lemarié are responsible for the feathers, flowers, pleatwork, smocking and ruffles for the Chanel collections. Couture sensibilities lend itself to Kocher’s Koché label, which by way of street wear, imagines refreshing juxtaposition between couture and the street. 

The street is not superficially important to Kocher. She’s genuinely inspired by the people she’s surrounded by. References to street art, the people she meets permeate her collections. “My vision is closely linked to the world that surrounds me,” she tells Yahoo. What a clearly expressed representation of the world. Models came in various shapes and sizes, genders and ages and races. Other brands still fail to tap into this. “I work in a way that means my clothes can adapt to very different personalities. I don’t create designs with anyone particular in mind.” Whether that means Karly Loyce in a printed blouse and light-wash denims, or an unknown woman with a neck tattoo in a fur coat, wool trousers and a white tee. 

Her curated mix of essentials include a sporty hoodie-cum-parka, multimedia blouses, wool trousers, coats spurting multicoloured feathers, printed patchwork blouses, beaded dresses, a sequin top with a feathered hem, oversized t-shirts. The pieces that women are demanding are ticked off this checklist. She also has a pleasant lineup of accessories—handbags, jewellery. 

Koché presents a democratic format of the fashion show (Chanel experimented with that this season too). Every guest had a vantage point, they all stood, in an enclosed area in the city centre of Paris. Kocher understands the importance of image-making. Images of the presentation ricocheted across Instagram and the Twittersphere. The world seems to be taking notice too. Like the aforementioned Y/Project, Kocher’s label was shortlisted and announced as a finalist for the prestigious €300,000 LVMH Prize. As you probably know, past victors are Thomas Tait and Marques’Almeida. Kocher has stiff competition but equipped with fearlessness and gusto, she has a fat chance of taking home the prize.
Images: koche.fr

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rodarte // Fall 2016 //

Operating in a world distinctly separate from that of everybody else, the Rodarte sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy offer up a dazzling dream in their allotted presentation time. You have Thom Browne and Marc Jacobs who exist in a similar sphere but there’s always a practicality imbued in their work. Rodarte is about and for the party girl who’s willing to pull out all the stops and delight an audience unabashedly. 

For fall 2016, the sisters were inspired by a road trip they took to San Francisco recently. They stopped off at Caffe Trieste along the way. A meeting place for Beat Generation authors (Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kerouac, Carr and Huncke)—Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for The Godfather at the North Beach outpost. The 1972 encompasses three central themes that the sister looked at in the collection: life, death and love. Kiki Willems opened the show swathed in frilled leather and lace tights. An age of innocence was present in the white lace looks with art nouveau swirls (also seen in a magnificent silver dress). A trio of scarlet dresses completed the trifecta of coloured looks synonymous with the three themes. 

The Rodarte sisters don’t shy away from weighty thematic influences. Their debut feature film starring friend and show-attendee Kirsten Dunst was a difficult filming experience. The grit transferred to the harshly coloured pieces. Dunst described the duo as storytellers—something that is unfortunately lacking in fashion presently. Jennifer Jason Leigh uttered a sentence in a similar vein, dubbing their work as filmic and romantic. An extension of the Rodarte girl is visible in the inspiration: an intellectual keen on filmic references’; she’s a trippy 70s princess at the best of times. Flower power, ample accessorising, frills and twists. She’s undoubtedly one of the most unique people in fashion. 
Who does this collection speak to? Well, Kirsten Dunst and Tessa Thompson were eyeing up an aforementioned silver dress. The fur coats are street style bait. There’s some self-satisfying skirts and blazers. The lucky ones, the ones that really buy into the Rodarte dream are those affording the evening gowns and dresses that trickled out through the collection. One or two resembled runaway brides. 17-year-old Willow Hand bewitched the audiences, becoming a static presentation as other models weaved around Alexander de Betak’s bed of roses set. A wonderfully staged moment—it made the collection. 

Untrue rumours about the label selling only ‘Radarte’ sweaters were dispelled last year, with a spokesperson for the house reassuring the masses that ready-to-wear business and private client sales were performing well. The clothing also performs well, according to Selfridge’s in London. The rumour mill is tumultuous as proved by the shockingly inaccurate ones about Phoebe Philo’s reign at Céline. Instead of buying into those falsifications, buy into the Rodarte dream.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Georgia Hardinge // Fall 2016 //

Excuse my absence this week. I spent four days in Paris and the rest with friends and family. To return to blogging, I chose one of my favourite collections from London Fashion Week: Georgia Hardinge. The London-based designer presented her Fall 2016 collection as part of the Painting Rooms Presentations collective, manufactured by PR company The Wolves. For the collection, Georgia was looking at lenticular printing (technology used for 3D displays), and an iridescent cutout star print lined the presentation space. 

Georgia’s aesthetic is generally minimal. Colours are simple, the usual suspects appear each season. With her craftsmanship, she tends to go the extra mile—as she did here. Creating optical illusions, her stellar parallax enriched pleated skirts, basic tees, elbow patches and evening gowns. The audience gasped in amazement when they caught a glimpse off the iridescent, reflective embellishments within the looks. Georgia did serve the meat and potatoes of any collection: a staple coat, a pair of trousers and a nice dress. Factoring in the styling and the idiosyncratic touches, the collection is evidence of how you can transform a blank canvas into something subtly beautiful, and simultaneously impactful.

Intergalactic travel was on Georgia’s mind for fall, illustrated by the colour palette. Galactic imagery inspired the ivory, bursts of cobalt blue, deep magenta and black. Last years meteor showers introduced a running theme of “shooting stars” within the collection. Last year saw the release of The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, two highly profitable endeavours from film studios. Y-3 developed ‘space gear’ in collaboration with Virgin Galactic. There not the only fashion companies to experiment with the cosmos. With the threatening omnipresence of climate change, exploring the possibilities of outer space is a pertinent issue. Can we really live on Mars? These questions are being asked presently and the fashion industry are reflecting that. After all, it does provide some glamourous results. 

There’s never—usually—a dull moment during London Fashion Week. You’re caught up in the comprehensive show schedule which stretches from the BFC-issued listings to Fashion Scout to off-schedule. A moment isn’t to be spared. Days from 9am to 9pm are spent looking at clothes. In the heat of it all, you need someone like Georgia Hardinge. She shoots you into outer space while also bringing you back down to earth.
All photos are my own

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St Patrick's Day // Spotlight on Irish Designers //

Today, as you may know, is St Patrick's Day here in Ireland. It's never been a truly patriotic day for me. As a child, attending the annual parades, I was dissatisfied and bored by the weak offering of the community. Or, at least that's what my eyes saw as a child (I haven't returned in over 9 years). In most cases, the day is an excuse for youths to get sloppily intoxicated in broad daylight. But given the it's the anniversary of the 1916 Rising in a few weeks, my patriotism is at an all time high. I've been angrily pondering on the flagrant abuse of power on behalf of the British, merely a hundred years ago. If it wasn't for the valiant rebels and there successors, Ireland would be very different today. Diplomatic ties have since been restored and it's something that I am grateful for. Many Irish people find themselves working, living or studying on England soil and vice versa. Particularly, Ireland's cultural exports have found a home and established their names across the pond. Namely in the fashion industry, the likes of Danielle Romeril are prospering. Albeit I'll be ignoring the parades, the leprechaun jokes and the ubiquity of green glitter, I thought I'd share some of the Fall 2016 collections from Irish designers.
Paul Costelloe is one of Ireland’s most storied designers. He has lines in national retailer Dunnes Stores, designed for Princess Diana, opened London Fashion Week for 6 years, designed British Airways and the Irish Olympic teams uniforms, etc. He’s a household name in Ireland, an honour tricky to posses. After taking a break from the official LFW schedule a few years ago, he returned three seasons ago and his 60s inspired collections have been performing exceptionally well with critics. 

His Fall 2016 collection was my first. Ensconced in a ballroom at the Meridien Hotel, the models stormed the catwalk for fourteen straight minutes, usually in groups of three. I wouldn’t have associated the word “sexy” with the Paul Costelloe, but this was that. Off-the-shouldered mini dresses were fastened at the waist with leather corsets; floral printed blouses were in delicate chiffon. The appearance of vulnerability in a collection pertaining to “power dressing” was welcomed. It contrasted well with the leather, fingerless opera gloves, structured coats, baby doll dresses and a slew of evening gowns which consciously played with proportion and volume. Sexiness, vulnerability and elegance mingled to create the “ambitious, fearless” Paul Costelloe woman.

While there were whiffs of Simone Rocha and Alexander McQueen, Costelloe presented his ideas in a way that would be more palatable to a certain group of people, specifically the majority of women in Ireland. Military coats in warm red checks and well-made and printed dresses would appeal to the Irish customer because of their practicality but also because there is a subtle showiness about them.

“I hope this collection conveys my aspirations in moving the Paul Costelloe brand forward, in an exciting and unconventional manner.” Slightly derivative, but he’s on the right track. 

Late Saturday afternoon, after photographing street style outside J.W. Anderson, I made my way to Mary Ward House for the Teatum Jones show. Returning from New York Fashion Week with the International Woolmark Prize in tow—a victory for emerging London designers—the show the Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones put on was every bit celebratory and ebullient as you’d expect. They were inspired this season by Agnes Morrogh-Bernard, an English nun who moved to the west of Ireland and founded the Foxford Woolen Mills in 1892. Forming a workplace community for the surrounding, impoverished towns, Morrogh-Bernard sustainably built a business intersecting political, social and economic growth. Her achievements aside, the duo were mainly inspired by her “fearless and relentless spirit.” 

Spirit is an apt word to describe this Teatum Jones. It had a lot of it. The beautiful colour palette was attributed to this spirit. There were fearless primary colours, darker shades and warm autumnal hues. Also, the exercise in fabrication that unfurled exemplified their skill. 95% of the fabrics used are designed and created by them. One knit sweater was styled with green check trousers, and a multicoloured coat sparkling with embellishment. There was a ribbed wool sweater with overlong sleeves—that were stylishly bunched up—and a mirror print skirt with mohair details. The layering of these details synced with the Irish weather, which is unrelenting at the best of times. That doesn’t stop women from dressing up, as seen in sheer dresses, exposed shoulders and a flouncy green number. 

Simone Rocha often references Catholicism in her collections; Richard Malone denotes to working class backgrounds. Teatum Jones have delved into human interest stories—one of the many Ireland has to offer. I’d like to see them channel similar stories into powerful, emotional and fearless collections like this one.

Danielle Romeril’s NEWGEN support has lasted longer than others. She certainly deserves it. Her Fall 2016 collection touched on 16th century influences by way of a Dutch 80s nightclub and sporting references. Her lessons in deconstruction, texture and fabrication further prove the fearless spirit that the previous two collections featured in this post also bare. You can’t help but be swayed by her devilishly cool spirit and creative genius. 

To reiterate my point from my recent review of her collection, "Challenging, yet not intimidating. These clothes will likely stir but that doesn’t diminish their wearability. In fact, if I remember correctly, Danielle was sporting those black trousers and a netted blouse. It’s always great to see a designer in their own designs. She graciously ushered journalists around the collection. Good things happen to good people."

This leads me to Simone Rocha, another exceptional young talent. On New Year’s Day, as is tradition for some families, Simone partook in a chilly swim in the west of Ireland. It led to the idea of “rebirth” seen in her Fall 2016 collection. She certainly kicked off the year with a collection likely to go down as her best. Then again, I’ve had to regurgitate that line for every season in recent memory because it keeps getting better and better. Her perversely romantic wares have garnered international recognition and you’ll find her positioned on the best collections of the seasons from Vogue Runway and The Business of Fashion.

Richard Malone is a promising designer from Wexford who has had the honour of presenting as part of Fashion East for the past two seasons. Inspired by his working class background and his family, his collections are for those with a sense of humour and a value for unabashed creativity. His Spring collection was inspired by his mother’s Argos uniform and for Fall it was his aunt’s attire at his communion that influenced the collection. There’ll be more on that a later date. For now, enjoy images from his standout collection presented in February.