Friday, February 24, 2017

Faustine Steinmetz // Fall 2017 //

There is something ironic, isn’t there, about the fashion press raving about Faustine Steinmetz’s wondrous denim creations? Denim isn’t something unique to anyone in particular. “No matter the gender, age, or origin,  piece of clothing that everybody has had in their wardrobe at some point in their life,” as the show notes read as you entered the Tanks at the Tate Modern—the Topshop Show Space for London Fashion Week, in a adjacent alcove to the main catwalk space. There is a banality to denim, but nothing about Faustine is banal. Her success has been sculpted by her interest in subverting perceptions of denim, her insightful approach to craft and acute attention to detail. Stunningly, she manages to glorify and glamourise denim with couture-like methodology.  

The idea of gender, age and origin were particularly important to Faustine this season. She hails from France and runs her business from Seven Sisters in North London; her production has recently moved to Burkina Faso where it provides employment for local communities. Gender, age, origin—to a fashion writer—may seem passé. Fashion’s cannibalistic nature has already crucified the facets to each of those things in various ways, but there relevance has been reignited in the past year, in the current political climate. Fashion takes gender, age, and diversity and attempts to make it fashionable without any true meaning. But with the fallout post-Brexit, post-Trump—gender, age, origin have to be protected as never before. Denim is one of the last things that actually links people—how tragic yet interesting is that? 
The familiarity of denim is partly where Faustine’s charm lies in the current political climate. But the magic is to be found in the way she reconsiders the characteristics of denim and the fabric treatments and styling. One look featured acid-wash double-denim; another fused cotton yarn and handwoven denim, amounting to 300 hours of labour from one artisan to complete. The use of Swarovski crystals to enhance the indigo denim was fascinating. The individual pieces shimmered like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. 

Cotton yarn is the other area Faustine is beginning to explore, cultivating another area of her design language. A cocoon-like puffer jacket—playing into the theme of  protection and shielding—was fashioned from the fabric and was decidedly fashion forward, an expected entryway for new customers. There was a sweater printed with ’Steinmetz’ on the front; there was a similar top in black with silver plating; a dress with Swarovski studs. 

Faustine gleefully ushered members of the press around her exhibition space, a gallery-esque layout with models encased in boxes, crafted by set designer Thomas Petherick. It was a pleasure, on the second day of London Fashion Week, the busiest day of the weekend, with copious shows and appointments, to lay witness to the development of a designer so singular, that she can intrigue using the most basic apparatus of all: denim and cotton yarn. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Steven Tai // Fall 2017 //

It’s always a pleasure to have Steven Tai as one of your first presentations at London Fashion Week. I’ve been besotted by the Canadian designer’s quirky creations for a number of seasons now. (This season, in accordance with the past three, he presented as part of the Painting Rooms Presentations—the collective is assembled by PR company The Wolves; the venue this season was the Royal College of Arts on the Strand.) The depoliticisation of clothing has become commonplace in the past year, between Brexit and Trump, there is no avoiding the tall order in fashion. In the seven presentations I attended this season, the thread that intertwined them all denoted to the politics of today: there was palpable anxiety; regression to a childlike state; notions of armour; emphasis on the strength of women; gender politics.

Steven Tai is a keen proprietor of infusing his collections with childlike sensibilities. His vision of nerdy chic reached its peak for Spring 2016 where he transformed his show space into a primary school party. He began to depart from that over the next two seasons, ensuring an ageless attitude could be attributed to his clothing. There was granny chic and interpretation of uniforms. Through his casting and presentation, he upholds an air of innocence. His models, bespectacled and with rosy cheeks, embody the brand’s vision. 

His Fall 2017 collection mused on dormancy and lassitude. Winter is coming, says Tai, who opted for a darker colour palette to convey the dread and glumness of the winter months. 8-year-old artist Elifreda illustrated portraits of sloths, asleep and attached to branches of a watercolour forest.

The strongest pieces in the collection were expansions on ideas from previous seasons. A cashmere coat in a beige hue, finished with silky edges of a quilt featured a detachable lower half to turn into a wrap skirt. It was building upon the duvet coat from two seasons ago. The hyperreal imagery of artist Gérard Schlosser—interpenetrated intimacy with innocence—inspired the piece. (The art itself is sensual, not something you’d associate with Steven Tai’s oeuvre.) Moreover, there was a simple t-shirt with a single ruffle acting as the strap to an eye mask reading ’Sleep Now. Work Later.”

Whether we want to or not, there’s no denying that fashion cannot be contextualised without broaching the world of politics anymore. In this show, Steven’s preferred slogans ‘Sleep Now. Work Later.” promoted the idea of passivity and resting, but I believe that period is behind us. I oftentimes find myself quoting the inimitably political Phoebe English, “passivity is a luxury we can no longer afford.” However, there is something refreshing about Steven’s clothing, the way he wants us to forgot about the dark days is endearing and thoughtful; but the ‘Work Later’ implies there is something to come in the future. I will be here when that comes—meanwhile, enjoy this relaxant. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

London Fashion Week Street Style // Part 3 // Fall 2017

Ellie Bamber in Erdem
Jenny Walton
Elizabeth von Guttman
Chioma Nnadi
Emily Sheffield
Christine Centenera in Balenciaga
Katy Perry in Christopher Kane
Leandra Medine
Jade Frampton
Yoon Young Bae
Ella McRobb
Hilda Halilovic & Kekeli Lea

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

London Fashion Week Street Style // Part 2 // Fall 2017

Pandora Sykes
Caroline Vreeland
Yasmin Sewell in Vetements
Alanna Arrington in Tommy Hilfiger
Justine Skye
Chioma Nnadi
Peter Pilotto coat
Emma Hope Allwood 
Lisa Aiken
Jenny Walton, Scott Schuman
Pandora Sykes
Emily Sheffield, Sarah Harris in Balenciaga
Sora Choi
Radhika Nair

Monday, February 20, 2017

London Fashion Week Street Style // Part 1 // Fall 2017 //

Agyness Deyn in Molly Goddard
Chioma Nnadi
Yasmin Sewell
Jo Ellison
Bryan Boy in J.W. Anderson
Alexa Chung in J.W. Anderson
Irina Lakicevic 
Sarah Harris 
Jade Frampton 
Kate Foley
Amanda Googe 
Aira Ferreira