Monday, January 28, 2019

How does your garden grow - Osman & Alice Archer's garden parties for SS19

Osman Yousefzada’s spring 2019 presentation during London Fashion Week last September benefited from an unseasonably bright spell. His show took place at Phoenix Garden, an easily overlooked garden in the heart of Soho. Yousefzada’s garden party, as Vogue’s Luke Leitch captured it, could have been borrowed from the Venice Biennale or Cannes. 

Yousefzada prescribed chic tailoring and beautiful frocks with a smattering of unexpected, eclectic pattern and fabrication. This season’s standout was a recycled zebra brocade. 

Yousefzada is an example of a designer who has probably shifted his aesthetic to match the expectations of a growing customer base. Over the years, he’s managed to earn his stripes by proving himself with spellbinding tactile wizardry. From recycled fabrics to luxurious brocades enriched with decorative displays, 

Underscoring this is forensic attention-to-detail when it comes to tailoring. His interest in tailoring dates as far back as 2012 when he sent a collection of evening wear rooted in tailoring—trousers, and jackets of many descriptions—down the runway. This time around, amidst a sea of shimmering frocks, there remained options—impeccably sharped—for the businesswoman whose life extends beyond the galas and functions she attends during the summer months. 

Finally, it appears after years of growing his garden of sophisticated fancies—with a few torrential downpours here and there—his project is in full bloom. 
Osman SS19 via Imaxtree

Alice Archer was another designer preoccupied with the natural world. In fact, it’s a hallmark to her design handwriting. Her runway, in the light-filled third floor of the Shop at the Bluebird in Covent Garden, was demarcated by strewn petals and a wall of bouquets. She was thinking about the American prairie—specifically  Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World. The painting, a rather bleak depiction of a woman suffering from polio crawling through a Maine meadow, was given the prerequisite Archer treatment. She summoned soft pastel colours and delicate 

Embroidery, her specialty, was smartly called upon; there were intricately wildflowers, from echinacea to black-eyed Susan, yarrow, and bluebells weaved into a collection consisting primarily of elegant daywear. 

Archer’s formula is tried and tested. Her attachment to the familiar is understandable in a fashion industry oversaturated with brands. But one can almost predict the silhouettes she’ll recall and guess there’s some bucolic scene on her mood board. The most surprising addition to this show was the styling of tailoring with cowboy boots. And with the launch of a bridal collection, she’s sure to garner more attention from women with a penchant for florid delights. But in this dog-eat-dog world, of government shutdowns and institutional failures, perhaps it’s time for Archer to break convention and get those boots a bit muddy. 
Alice Archer SS19 via Alice Archer

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ryan Lo Asks The Big Question at LFW // Spring 2019

Ryan Lo spun a love story for Spring 2019. His show notes described his muse as “flurrying about in occasionwear, waiting for a White Knight Prince to charge his way into her heart.” From dates to cocktail parties, gallery openings and summer soirees, she’s in the mood for love. 

Lo has grown considerably as a designer over the years. He broke onto the scene with a fanciful display of sugary sweet frocks. He presented an unabashed ode to girlishness, at a time when it was still considered a bit naff. Nowadays, in the wake of Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard, and Clio Peppiatt, the aesthetic is resurgent. There’s no fear in sporting shades of pink or swathes of tulle. In fact, there’s enough of that to go around judging by the London Fashion Week schedule in recent years. 

But once Lo commemorated his five year anniversary with a greatest-hits-of-sorts collection, he renewed the cycle with a more demure outlook on saccharinity. He’s growing with his audience. These days, there’s something for women of all ages to connect with. Princess dresses still exist for those ardent supporters from the beginning of his career but for those who shoot left of that style remit have options to choose from. This season, he propositioned them with age-directed hemlines and overcoats. It was respectful and diverse—it would be exciting to see some older faces in the casting next season. He’s got the chutzpah to pull it off.

(It’s a missed opportunity that Topshop hasn’t recruited him for a collaboration—his brand of saccharine femininity would go down a treat with today’s Instagram generation.)

The most memorable moment from this show — aside from Stephen Jones’ wonderfully witchy hats inspired by the Hayao Miyazaki film Kiki’s Delivery Service and the tongue-in-cheek broomsticks — was the finale. Romance isn’t dead, declared Lo. The bride emerged, flanked by her knight in shining armour. One can’t fault Lo for his devotion to women—he admires them and surrounds himself with them. His business is built on the back of their enjoyment. However, one couldn’t help but wonder whether the silver-clad knight was out of touch with the times. We lived (the show took place in September 2018) in a year in which we championed female empowerment—how does this fit into that? But maybe, one could argue, we’re too much of an uptight, hypersensitive generation and it’s okay to want to be saved by a lover. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Eudon Choi's Looks to da Silva Bruins for Spring 2019

Eudon Choi’s Spring 2019 collection at London Fashion Week spanned 40 looks but he could’ve gotten the message across in 25. They were forty highly-detailed, considered looks but at 9 am on a Saturday morning, the weight of it was a bit smothering. It’s not to say Choi is not a good designer—rather he’s quite talented and he’s typically at his sharpest when he looks to architects for inspiration. This season’s peregrination took him to India and the work of Ivan da Silva Bruhns.

Choi looked modernist Palace of Manik Bagh (‘Gardens of Rubies’ is the English translation), the home of the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holka II of Indore, where da Silva Bruhn’s had designed carpets. Like Choi, the theme da Silva Bruhns explored was deconstruction. 

The clothes were influenced by this and his unique blend of da Silva Bruhn’s cubist and Art Deco tendencies. Choi juxtaposed the rigour of formal tailoring with the ease of summery clothing—pinstripes met kaftans, trench coats became blouses. The above elements were exceptionally and imaginative, you wanted to see more permutations. 

The broad colour palette encompassed (a delicious shade of) mandarin, aubergine, duck egg and cobalt. The South Korean designer who graduated from Central Saint Martins contrasted block colours with parallel contours and graphic patterns. To reiterate, it was 9 am on a Saturday morning. An edited display of 25 looks would’ve sufficed. Between the multiple points of reference, the patterns, and a coterie of models walking towards you at high speed, it was hard to focus on the finer details, the roots of the inspiration. 

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