The recurring theme on my blog this week has been “diversity and feminism”. Dilara Findikoglu, Teatum Jones, Rachel Antonoff, respectively, are fashion’s tentpoles for celebrations of youth culture, feminism and diversity. In their shows, the casting hasn’t been whitewashed—elsewhere, however, it is predominately white. Findikoglu celebrated otherness and unconventional portrayals of beauty with her show; Teatum Jones combined men and women’s, a unique experience in itself that gave a further insight into the designers’ world; Antonoff’s statement of body positivity diverged from the strict casting seen everywhere. London Fashion Week—New York more and more—appears to be the breeding ground for this type of liberally-minded designer.
Paula Knorr debuted on the LFW schedule this past September with a smashing collection. Hailing from Frankfurt, Germany—the country is tolerant, liberal and free—Knorr examines womanhood within her collections. Her graduate collection for her MA in Fashion at the Royal College of Art was shown in 2015; at the time, she told Dazed, “I’m never looking at photos, I’m always looking at women.” For most designers operating in this weather, it’s quite the opposite; they turn to Instagram to research, where they are met with a beguiling, distorted image of reality. Knorr’s complex examinations of womanhood have seen her approach coloration in mature ways. She works with traditional colours and, naturally, interpenetrates subtext within them—the gender stereotypes associated with colour, etc. Her attentiveness to texture is also admirable: her collagist methods make for a considered artistic element that only enriches her work.
Spring 2017 was titled “All of Me”. Knorr turned the spotlight on herself for an introspective journey through what led her to where she is today. We often forget that the designers presenting at London Fashion Week are barely thirty. Many of them have only graduated from university and have joined the official calendar six months to a year later. Knorr’s been out of college for a year and she’s already presented two ready-to-wear collections. ‘All of Me’, this outing, touched upon the relaxed nature of past collections: the clothing is swishy, loose in areas and tighter in others, a well-balanced mixture. Mining her own catalogue, red trousers with frilled side panels reappeared from the collection previous, the colours navy and blood red punctuating her palette.
Effusing youthful femininity, the collection featured artistic approaches, from the silhouettes, to the impressive illustrations drawn on many of the pieces. If I was to hedge my bets as a fashion buyer, the white overcoat and blazer with charcoal drawings are bound to be the show’s bestsellers; although in this current climate, with the 90s revival, the navy, high waisted trousers and the lustrous, silver bandeau could potentially fly off shelves.
An intelligent young woman, the designer told WWD during fashion week, “I always start every collection with just [the wearer] and her body… I don’t want anything to detract from that.” She shares that, “in avant-garde, sometimes pieces are so massive they don’t look different from on the hanger to on the girl.” In my opinion, Knorr hits the nail on the head here. Designers specialising in the avant-garde often lose sight of the fact that they’re designing for people and not art shows. Knorr’s measured approach to avant-garde fashion is a breath of fresh air for the fashion community—she has the ideas, but she also has commercial viability, even if she doesn’t prioritise it.
Knorr is contributing to the influx of profound, emotive group of designers who aren’t bothered solely catering to the commercial bounds of fashion. Creativity thrives and expression prospers in her collections. Another designer to add to the never-ending list of modern wunderkinds.
Photo Credit: WWD & The Upcoming