The Empress Wore Monochrome – Wesley Harriott AW19

My final London Fashion Week Show saw myself making my way to The Strand’s Discovery Lab first thing in the morning to see the hotly anticipated presentation of London born-and-bred designer – Wesley Harriot. Being new to his work and having seen this collection, I am now a total fan. 

His AW19 collection, “Sixth Rank”, is inspired by the writing of author Jung Chang, whose book “Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China” is the narrative that informs this collection. Everything about this presentation was immaculately considered and executed. The sound design created a score that enhanced the models’ presence; the models were perfectly cast, with the sharp and delicate bone structures complimenting the lines of the clothes.

This is confident and expert deconstruction and experimentation of form and tailoring. Ruffles, and pleats meeting flared oversized sleeves, a myriad of pockets in subtle gradients from charcoal to ivory, carbon to bone. The subtle and artfully placed flashes of skin, also have a tailored quality, sensual rather than sexual, giving an intrigue to the bodies’ form. Looking at the whole collection in a simple black room with natural-feeling lighting, there is a poetic stillness and fierceness to the collection. It created a different kind of power dressing – suiting meets renaissance, meets kimonos.

The use of monochrome gave subtle definition to a mix of textures. There was a futurism across the ensembles that also had a timeless quality. These are clothes that are so of their own era; you get a sense they will not soon date. I am absolutely thrilled to hear that he will be launching a capsule collection with ASOS later this year. If “Sixth Rank” is anything to go by, you will want all of it…if you even have a chance before it sells out!

Words By Paula Varjack

~ Paula Varjack’s show “The Cult of K*nzo” is currently on a nationwide tour that includes Battersea Arts Centre on Saturday 27 April

*Disclaimer – All images are sourced from Wesley Harriott’s official Instagram, courtesy of We are not responsible for the source of the images beyond these entities. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd does not own copyright to these images. All rights reserved.*

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