Nicholas Alistair Walsh and David James Wise are the virtuosic duo fronting Alistair James, the latest success story from London Fashion Week. The two presented their Spring 2018 show at the beautiful Fitzrovia Chapel in September. After minor delays before the show’s commencement, proceedings kicked off and one was welcomed into the wonderful world of Sleeping Beauty. (Modernising classicism has long been at the centre of their operation—in the past they’ve taken Peter Pan; the iconography of the Brontë sisters and injected it with the inimitable spirit of musician Kate Bush.) This season Briar Rose, Princess Aurora—whichever title you’re familiar with—was channelled into ethereal garments with the sole purpose of escapism. Walsh and Wise believe now is the time to propagate hope, to forget the troubles of the world and uplift people.
Political apathy aside, this was a strong collection with an emphasis on craftsmanship. (They met at Alexander McQueen: Walsh’s background is in textile design, James trained with special clients in the made-to-measure department.) In lieu of politics, one must harness another design cornerstone in order for their collection to be somewhat impactful. In this case, craftsmanship elevated their inspirations, ranging from Disney princesses to Ossie Clark and 19th-century portraiture. The simplicity of their static presentation allowed the audience to get within close proximity to the garments and to be spellbound by their fanciful creativity.
Entering the show space, models stood enshrined in verdant display cases, with white rose motifs. These encasements lined the aisle and at the foot of the altar stood the most elaborate. An asymmetric, crystal-encrusted bodice with a loose ruff and cascading ruffle made in partnership with Swarovski was the centrepiece. It may not have been steeped in practicality but in a London season tempered with subtlety and simplicity, it was a deserved departure, a dreamy ode to a Disney tale—to whisk one away from the wariness of the world, if only for a moment.
With a catwalk presentation envisaged down the line, one can only imagine the theatricality these two could conjure in the future; it may be the kind of whimsical hyper-femininity from a bygone era, but it’ll be a surefire presentation of glamour. Heretofore, the brand has been restricted to lookbooks and small stands within the BFC Designer Showrooms at 180 The Strand. This presentation marks their first venture into exploring narrative pieces. A gesture undoubtedly accumulated during time at Alexander McQueen, a house continually striving to impart a narrative within the design process. Clothing is clothing, fashion has the ability to tell a story. This was a fairytale, through and through.