Thursday, 22 September 2011

London Fashion Week 2011: New Power Studio

As the queue snakes down the stairs and along the corridor, I have to say I was rather pleased to be near the front of the line to catch a glimpse at the NEWGEN Men's sponsorship winners New Power Studio as they present their inspired SS12 installation.
Since 1993, NEWGEN has provided an internationally recognisable programme that seeks to scout and identify the brightest new talents before offering them the invaluable sponsorship necessary to crack the London scene.  With the scheme’s previous success leading it to become a key draw for the international fashion media and having supported such names as Alexander McQueen, Mary Katrantzou and Meadham Kirchhoff in the past, it seemed only a matter of time before it branched out. And branch out it did as in 2009 a younger project was started – Newgen Men –  which is supported by Topman and has recognised emerging menswear designers to provide similar support.

This year’s presentation winners, New Power Studio, took to the Portico Rooms at Somerset House to showcase their SS12 and truly couldn’t have done it anywhere else. Fundamentally site-secific, the SS12 menswear installations drew inspiration from the history of the house itself using its previous use as a registration office for births, deaths and marriages to full effect.
The Portico Rooms, a function room for the best part, for one night was turned into a ‘dysfunction’ room in which, by way of three individual real life installations, the chaos and absurdity of family life was explored. Lit under greens, reds and blues, three sets made entirely of paper and cardboard depict the most pivotal moments from the womb to the grave.

As two grooms attempt to marry one masked and pregnant bride, two small and angelic children look on offering no explanation to confused spectators. Everything is surreal and undoubtedly absurd.

Moving on, cast in a red hue, four men sit amongst the rubble playing a childish game of connect four. It almost seems as if this is the bridge from the duo of birth and marriage before an ultimate death, a snapshot of the mundane.

In the final corner, a double suicide leaves two men in a single open coffin basking beneath the blue light, adding to the cold rigor mortis of the scene.

It may have been truly bizarre but it was an unquestionably thought proving installation that really drew upon the location and atmosphere of what took place right in the very place we were standing all those years ago.

London Fashion Week 2011: Katie Eary

With a large pile of fit-inducing television sets all flashing images to the sounds of Kanye West’s ‘Hell of a Life’ blaring whilst a scantily-clad skeleton sat casually on an unmade bed, I’d be lying if i said  the installation at Somerset House hadn’t got me looking forward to seeing Katie Eary’s ss12 collection in the flesh at The Riverside Rooms, London.

The film focuses on Eary’s ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ collection for next year’s spring/summer season, bringing her trademark aesthetic to the small screen. In amongst the blaze of night-vision greens and violent red lights emerged Eary’s vision of a ‘Winter-in-Summer’ look, laying bare our survival instincts to clash the atmosphere of the arctic with the heat of the dessert in a collection based on the aesthetical paradox. Inspired by soldiers from the French Legion to the hallucinogenic narcotics of Vegas,  Eary juxtaposes a myriad of influences to produce a SS12 that’ll turn tradition on its head.

Arriving just in the nick of time after following some of the worst directions known to man, I found myself sat in an intimate room eating a Ferrero Rocher across from Kanye West. As you do…
It was one of those times that you wish the gale force winds outside hadn’t given you a hairdo akin to a mullet and that you weren’t stuffing your face on the freebies. But after I was done chomping on glorified Nutella, I gave Kanye, who was now looking my way, a small salute which was returned with a shy smile and a nod. Shy? Kanye?  Looking to his right, I then noticed his resident bag carrier Mr Hudson sat alongside ready to enjoy the show that was actually using Mr West, once again, as its backing track. Coincidence? No, probably not.

The show began revealing a palette of burnt copper, mustard, cheetah print and gold lame metallics on a series of tshirts and anti fit trousers to reflect the bizarre and brave world of a debauched Las Vegas. With the occasional strut of predominantly ostrich feather and partially sheer womenswear passing by to reveal a very much exposed bottom or two,  it was back to the array of lace up trenches, foiled denim and open air knits accompanied by neon orange wicker luggage and Dutch hood falconry headwear.

Taking to the walk herself, Katie Earey received flowers from her orange-clad leading man as she gratefully thanked the audience for a rapturous response to her edgy and unusual collection.

London Fashion Week 2011: Fashion East Men

Sigh. Another glass of champagne? Oh go on then, I thought, as I began to wander the newest exhibition in Somerset House. The turn around was astounding as a whole host of menswear stood where only yesterday an array of  white canvas female mannequins showed their wares. Of course, my natural interest lies in womens fashion yet somehow there is something so interesting about the menswear on offer, almost as if they have less to work with and, therefore, try that much harder to create something unique. From obscure influences to tweaking the old style classics, Menswear had well and truly arrived so I thought it was only fair I shared a few of my favourites.

Agi & Sam

Describing their ideal customer as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, the first collection Jack comes across is Agi & Sam with their  vibrant clash of Hawaiian Castaway brights. Positioned amongst the debris of broken clay pots, the rugged models chat amongst themselves as the spectators gaze at their typically summer straw hats and primary patchwork prints.

Speaking to London Fashion Week, the designer duo describe their style as “a strong emphasis on entirely bespoke print and humour, we believe that fashion should never been taken too seriously. We also endeavour to sit firmly in the middle of brands that fear creating something different and those which push collections too far.”

This collection is  undoubtedly fun and laidback, adding a touch of glamour to the washed up! 

William Richard Green

For his SS12 collection, ‘I hope I die soon’, William Richard Green puts the spotlight on negativity for the labels darkest collection to date. With influences including a fascination with the paradox of suicide and the irony of the Church’s response to it, Green presents an unapologetic respresentation of Pop Culture’s most glamorised way out.

Silk shirts and vests depicting post-suicide characters in their purgatory  establishes what the brand refers to a “gallows humour” whilst clich├ęd depictions, such as a photograph of a weeping girl, is featured on a stark white tshirt hinting at modern society’s common interpretation.

Each piece is lined with a trademark green polka dot material, produced in Great Britain with mainly British fabric. A simple thread of consistency for some, the brand provides the tagline “Just because the boy looks poor and suicidal doesn’t mean he can’t buy into the morals of a good British heritage brand”.

A fascination with the paradox it may be, but for some, could this collection simply be a brand drawing upon convroversy as a selling point? Adding humour  to such a dark topic may seek to address the Modern day contradictory attitudes towards taking ones life, but they too run the risk of glamorising the act in the same way they judge pop culture for the doing the same.

Regardless of this, individual pieces  such a an undyed rubber tshirt with contrasting black stripes alluding to classic convict attire evokes idea’s of Purgatory as God’s own prison making the though process behind each garment intelligent and unique.

Astrid Andersen

Astrid Andersen’s SS12 collection, mixing feminine rose lace with masculine sportswear in a weight room setting, had us Jack girls hooked from first glance. Graduating from The Royal College of Art in 2010, Andersen went on the win the Brioni Creativity and Innovation Award and the River Island MA Student Bursary Award designing 3 looks for the high street retailer. Her looks are urban and contemporary; unafraid of introducing feminine undertones to classically male sportswear. Styled with street New Era caps, panels of ochre and blush lace feature on tees and baseball jackets whilst tracksuits take a vibrant and casual approach in purples and reds to add a brave twist to lounge wear.

Hurrah for Mensday Wednesday!

London Fashion Week 2011: Bunmi Koko

Late night at Freemason’s Hall saw Vauxhall Fashion Scout present African Fashion Award 2010 winner, Bunmi Koko, to an unusually packed out audience and I was down the front to check it out.

Bunmi Koko is a luxury fashion and art label specialising in both couture and ready to wear womens fashion, whilst also possessing a sister company in artistic illustration. This combination of art and fashion is vital to the brand’s philosophy with all collections striving to present the company motto of  ‘Luxuria, Art, Elegans’. Presenting her late night SS12 collection, “Allure of the Sirens”,  we are told that Bunmi drew inspiration from Greek Mythology and the infamously seductive Sirens who lured sailors to their deaths with their enchanting call.
With me squinting and desperately trying to remember the names of the former this and that on the FROW*,  the lights dimmed on my struggling efforts  and realigned my interests on the mysterious figure making their way down the walk, disguise in the darkness.  As the lights go up, a young girl begins to belt out a series of soulful sounds,  reminiscent of the Siren myth, to accompany the backing track as the first model started to strut.
Floor length pieces colour blocked with blue and yellow accompany midi-length cutaway dresses  and structured bustiers, making an avid departure from recent Bunmi Koko collections. The colours were vibrant and boldlybright while the choice of chiffon and organza fabrics allowed the collection to flow with elegant ease.  Every so often, a border line couture piece broke through with intricate cut out details and oversized, structured collars in orange and green to add variation to the feminine draping. Blown out, teased hair and metallic sweeps of sea green adorning the faces of each model addied a dash of Siren glamour in keeping with the nights theme.  As the final model returned to the back, Bunmi Olaye, the designer herself, took to the runway for a carefree walk of honour clearly overwhelmed of the turn out and waving to familiar faces in the crowd. Not bad for late night on a Tuesday!

*Sabrina, former-Misteeq, Ali Bastien (‘Who?’ you cry? Formerly Becca from Hollyoaks, the naughty naughty teacher who had an affair with the attractive school boy and got stabbed in prison for not being able to keep it in her pants. Classic Front Row attendee....) and Keisha, former-Sugababe. Oh and BB from Dirty Sexy Things but that all passed me by.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

London Fashion Week 2011: Oliver Ruuger

Set in the stunning upper gallery of the Freemason’s Hall, Vauxhall Fashion Scout present Oliver Ruuger’s SS12 range. A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Oliver Ruuger’s MA collection of umbrellas, sculptural saddles, briefcases and hats is a result of a personal design exploration that turns the everyday accessory on its head with stunning results.

Specifically choosing materials that would convey emotion to all who set eyes upon the pieces, ritualistic materials such as leather and horse hair play a key role . For Ruuger, it was paramount to his collection that he make everything himself, as these pieces would not fall prey to accompaniment and act as an accessory to something else but have a place in their own right.  A spectacle in themselves, each accessory possesses an Avant-garde twist, from curled and spiked handles to waterfalls of blonde, brown and chestnut horse hair. With oversized yet understated black brollies skilfully hanging above our very heads, it was  hard not to feel that the collection exuded the Magritte painting of quintessential Britishness, the missing bowler hat only to be located on the opposite side of the room complete with detached hairpiece. Now, it’s common knowledge by now that the ponytail is the must have hairstyle for Autumn and Winter, but on the end of an umbrella? Elements of the surreal were accentuated by the Father time-esque figure, posing with each piece, mounted upon the walls . The typicality of a lowly umbrella and stereotypically English bowler reach unusual heights in this curiously innovative collection leaving the bowler on my very own head feeling a little bland!

London Fashion Week 2011: Felicities Presents...

Whilst established brands such as Burberry Prorsum and Christopher Kane were extravagantly  divulging their predicitions for next year, we at Who’s Jack made our way to the Vauxhall Fashion Scout quarter to gander at the next generation of Baileys and Kanes, courtesty of Felicities Presents.

Felicities provides emerging fashion brands with the whole shebang including PR, brand management and the crucial support and mentoring necessary to lead young talents on the path to professional success. With clients including this year’s Fashion Week break through designer Ada Zandition (everybody has been talking, trust me.), we were eager to see who Felicities had declared the faces, or more importantly, the brands,  of the future. Presenting and proudly explaining their collections to the viewers were the  budding fashion geniuses Beautiful Soul, CC Kuo, Funlayo Deri, Phannatia and Tramp in Disguise who all had their own unique creative flair as was apparent in their dynamic and extremely varied collections.
Starting with Beautiful Soul, their signature look is a blend of timeless evolving style with true global consideration to juxtapose the quintessentially English with an international appeal. The brand offers both a ready-to-wear collection, ‘Beautiful Soul London’ alongside a bespoke ‘Kimono Collection’


Next, it was time to peruse the wears of CC Kuo  who lifted the looks straight off the mannequin and wore her own design, a sleeveless maxi shirt dress horizontally striped with blocks of black and sand with an intricate coffee brown print. A Central Saint Martin’s graduate, her acclaimed graduate collection resulted in a feature in POP magazine. Previously known for her bold use of colour, her SS12 collection takes a more relaxed approach to keep the pieces luxurious and sophisticated whilst retaining a striking and somewhat quirky edge.

After a few more sample of the lemon drizzlecake and chocolate brownies, we’re onto Funlayo Deri who describes her brand as a “celebration of the female form” to emphasize curves using the most lavish fabrics and fine detailing. The SS12 collection has a definite Coast vibe, suitable for an event that requires a guest’s elegance and formality without being overly serious. Classic strapless shapes are given an element of the unexpected through high cut sheer detailed panels whilst plain cocktail dresses are given  box effect volume around the hips and teamed with a monchrome, delicately crafted cropped evening jacket.

A quick white tea (non-alcoholic, baffling.) later and onto Phannatiq. Previously having made an appearance with her first collection at AW11 Fashion Week, Anna Skodbo is back with  a collection inspired by “forgotten London, urban industrial decay and street art”. The collection features a series of figure huggings shapes with contrasting and sassy anti fit. For Phannatiq, the real design is in the detail as delicate printed silks are adorned with press studs, leather piping and rivets to add an urban edge to feminine wear. 
And finally, Tramp in Disguise which is a name that really doesn’t fit the collection on show. According to Felicities, the label offers “dazzling collections that are fun, youthful, modern and edgy”, yet, at first glance, the clothing on show seems distinctly grown up with its head scarfs and high necks. Again though, the proof is in the details. The youthful edge is in the sheer chiffon maxi skirts and near scallop edging, and when looking at the other clothing in the next room their brand aesthetic becomes all the more clear with striking digital prints and knits.

Monday, 19 September 2011

London Fashion Week 2011: We Need To Talk About Fred

 Disclaimer: All images are my own and are to creditted if used.

Sunday afternoon had me ducking and diving under the any umbrella and cover I could find with its oscillating combination of heavy rain  and short bursts of glorious sunshine , leaving me exceptionally pleased at my choice of head gear (bowler hats are practically a small umbrella on your head, I promise you.).  After the fascinating Cristina Sabaiduc show in Covent Garden, I hot footed back to Somerset House to meet Kathryn for the much anticipated Fred Butler SS12 reception high above the BFC tent in the Portico Rooms where i had only recently watched Craig Lawrence.

A reknowned and rather fabulous maker of the wildest accessories available, and friend to a favourite of mine, Patrick Wolf (who created a sound installation especially for the event),  Fred Butler was the place to be. Over looking the damp grounds and sour faces below, we inside found ourselves in a rainbow world to mark the celebration of her first ever on-schedule presentation, after quite a few seasons of exhibiting off site. And what a presentation it was!  Each model was presented on her own indivual and colour themed lilypad suited to their unique ensemble. Vivid pops of orange, purple, blue and green were splashed across tubular shoulder pieces and structured, geometric headwear almost orbiting the models heads  created an out of this world experience.  Volume was paramount And the shoes!  Tonal platform stilettos adorned with shell like circles helps evoke ideas of under water fluorescing marine life leaving me feeling rather bland in comparrison. 

On such a drab and dismal day, this was just the thing to liven our spirits. The original musical score and even more original designs were only let down by their sponsor, sodastream. A neon under water esque party this may seem but those bubbly drinks tasted like something right out the sea. Eck! And of course, anything but drab herself (himself?) , Pandemonia made an appearance in a outfit covering every inch of skin including using rubber to look like skin. However, this blow up Barbie Doll talking through rubber lips was enough to make me think of every kind of vile horror film in which faces are implanted onto innocent, screaming  I made my exit.