What’s the fascination with young designers all about? This is a question that’s oft posed. The answer is simple: these young ingenues will be the ones to inherit the industry when the time comes. London, New York and Paris are the three cities with the most talent. New York has seen 19-year-old Vejas Kruszewski, Patric DiCaprio of Vaquera celebrated ideas of otherness, the art of being different. London too many designers, so I’ll name only but a few: shapeshifting genius Richard Malone, rising star Paula Knorr (who’ll enter the official scheduling in September), and the Japanese-influenced Katie Roberts Wood.
The Japanese influence many designers these days. Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe and Yohji Yamamoto are still the most sought after designers for avant-garde fashion thirty years after starting out. Everyone from Jonathan Anderson to Simone Rocha has been inspired by them. Particularly in London, they have inspired the fashion designers bred here, as their approach to anti-fashion and the avant-garde appeals to many anarchic designers or those who believe in creating a dream world. Katie Roberts Wood has become one of those designers; she creates a dream world, and approaches her design in an artistic fashion.
She founded ROBERTS|WOOD a number of years ago, following her graduation from the Royal College of Art. Since then she’s won the Fashion Scout Merit Award, a prestigious title with past recipients including Phoebe English and David Koma. Her stockists include Dover Street Market and the Comme des Garçons Trading Museum. Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe see her potential.
Potential is undeniable with Katie. For her Fall 2016 show she staged an elaborate performance art show. Lasting an hour, Katie battled the ephemeral to reflect the process of making her designs. “The slowness was a very deliberate and important part of the presentation. The pieces themselves are created using very intensive, hand-constructed methods that take a really long time to make, so slowness felt like a very important element that needed to be translated right through to the presentation.” Fashion shows last ten minutes max, and you could zoom through a presentation in five minutes. One hour is stark contrast, deliberately disrupting the schedule. Due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to make it to the show, but my fear of missing out amplified as I watched pictures of the fabulously deconstructed pieces fill my Instagram feed. There was a beautiful apron dress, with tulle exploding from behind, origami details and bows accenting the front; a pristine white shirt was more than ‘just a shirt’ in another look.
The way Katie works with avant-garde tailoring is akin to master tailor Yohji Yamamoto’s work. Working with geometrics is where Junya Watanabe’s influence can be felt. Rei Kawakubo’s affinity for odd body-repellent shapes were evoked in a few pieces, the few challenging pieces in the collection. Although she borrows techniques and ideas from the Japanese it isn’t derivative of their work. Similarly, while she pours over the detail it isn’t overwrought. There are fine lines that shouldn’t and won’t be crossed, Katie, I’m sure, is aware of that. To this critics delight: she’s paving an intriguing path for her brand, adding a British sensibility to her work. Excellent.
Photo Credit: roberts-wood.com