Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, London Fashion Week has found a way to persist by going digital. Through technology, art and fashion was showcased pushing the boundaries that previous shows may not have. Along with the collections and work of over 100 designers, content ranged from podcasts to videos exhibited on the new platform. For the first time in fashion history, LFW will combine womenswear and menswear making it the first gender-neutral season. From the 12th of June to the 14th, LFW hosted designers whose collections focused on issues from sustainability and inclusivity to sheer self expressive art.
Central Saint Martins MA graduate – Li Gong started his career in 2017 with menswear label – 8ON8. He has acquired many accolades including a ‘LVMH Grand Prix Scholarship‘. Having developed his style, 8ON8 was based on various reference points, namely city life and the energy of youth. Through unorthodox use of traditional fabrics and techniques, a fusion between contemporary sportswear and men’s tailoring was created. Li Gong’s most recent collection under 8ON8 – “The Crown Of Ruins” spearheads sustainability as its main feature. Showcased in a video format, visually the headwear was very much the centrepiece through a ‘fisheye’ view. The lookbook displays a variety of hats, commonly seen was the ‘baker boy’ silhouette and others with an oversized feel. All of the hats are ornately decorated with different kinds of embellishments from rhinestones to sequins.
CENTRAL ST. MARTINS Ma fashion
Upcoming fresh talent is always a bedrock of creativity and innovation, encouraging the industry to expand horizons, opening minds and hearts alike. This year is no different as the work of MA Menswear graduates was showcased in video format. Various art mediums were utilised to represent their ideas and work. The diversity of thought is ever present in the 2020 cohort of graduates, emphasising the skill-set and creativity of fashion’s future.
Of the alumni, Halina Edwards was particularly interesting as it’s topical with the resurfacing of the Black Lives Matter movement. She stated “I guess being more knowledgeable about different cultures will kind of help eradicate this sort of prejudice we have”. The feature of storytelling in her work functions as almost social commentary: art that serves as a form of subtle yet powerful protest.
Another graduate, user @d.eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.p, created artistry that emphasised the playfulness and lived joy of their gender identity, and experimenting with it in various capacities. They go on to state in the presentation: “I am very proud of and feel confident, this kind of confidence means I am a male. When I grow up I realise if I still live in a traditional world, that confidence can be explained (as a) revolt. The more people say I am different, the more I want to show them”.
Born and raised in Cyprus, Hussein Chalayan MBE graduated from Central St. Martins. A year later, he started his own label, in which he soon found more success being crowned “British Designer of the Year” in 1999 consecutively for 2 years’ running. Performance art involving technology and installations were used for his exploration of cultural identity, anthropology, nature and genetics. He is best known for his innovative design and skillful tailoring, utilising the aesthetic of minimalism and exploring various production techniques. The autumn collection produced boasts base colours (primary and muted ones) with a mixture of sleek yet oversized tailoring in genderless structures. Bold shapes and textures combine to create a unique stripped back approach to fashion.
charles jeffrey loverboy
Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY is a fashion house created by Glaswegian designer, stylist, illustrator and “radical creative” – Charles Jeffrey. Sarah Mower of American Vogue describes him as “the upholder of all that is human, creative and cheerful about British fashion . After leaving university, Charles won various awards and accolades, from the Scottish Fashion Awards to the prestigious British GQ Award for Emerging Designer. In 2017, he became the recipient of the British Fashion Award for Best Emerging Menswear Designer which was presented to him by his “hero” – John Galliano.
The identity of LOVERBOY is driven by Charles’ autobiographical research. His collections are very personal, influenced by his individual style and that of his collaborators and friends. As shown in the lookbook, the collection maintains a colourful approach with dynamic bursts of motif and shape across the garments. The collection speaks to the influence of vibrant nightlife and its youthful, untamed energy; sheer experimentation with a personal touch.
DANIEL W. FLETCHER
Daniel’s contemporary menswear brand, DANIEL w. FLETCHER, was established in 2015 after he graduated from Central St. Martins. Hailing from the North West of England, Daniel made the move to London to study gaining industry experience at Victoria Beckham, Lanvin, Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
Following the success of various collection showcases, Daniel became a participant in Netflix’s ‘Next in Fashion’ where he reached the final. This success has seen him become an Artistic Director for Italian label – Fiorucci. His collections are inspired by a variety of social issues and current affairs, brought together by his signature statement. Daniel’s AW20 collection is a mixture of smart and casual, using atypically feminine cuts, supported by clean tailoring.
hill & friends
Hill & Friends is a “contemporary luxury” brand established in 2015 by Georgia Fendley and Emma Hill. The brand is driven by ethical practices and fair trade, as the founders believe this is “good business”.
Their new collection of bags are incredibly pragmatic, ranging from large handbags to smaller side bags. The practicality of their bags doesn’t compromise on aesthetic: bold block prints and colours crafted in a simplistic yet effective manner create a highly wearable but fashion-forward collection.
LYpH is an “Avant Garde” clothing company that produce both mens and womens wear. Their inspiration is sourced from the vivid, ever-changing world around them: different countries, cultures and people. Dynamism and exploration are at the core of the brand’s ethos. Through this, they have created functional fashionable designs that transcends seasons. A highlight of the garments is the detachable pockets that can be used on other respective pieces of LYpH clothing. This approach makes for recyclable fashion that leaves limitless possibilities for styling. The swatch nature of garments makes the items more customisable and personal, providing consumers with more choice.
Designers of the brand – Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding met whilst studying at CSM in 2007. Through exploration of their own creativity, they decided to use the shirt as a base for further development of this. Using various techniques for draping and pattern cutting allowed them to develop their ideas as to what a shirt could be, from the flamboyant to the functional.
The collection is designed with females in mind, having created wardrobe stables that remain highly fashionable. Muted tones and colours are used in the collection alongside a strong feminine sleekness, made for the working woman.
Graduated in 2002 with an MA in Fashion Design, Bora Aksu was awarded NEWGEN funding for 8 consecutive seasons, showcasing his work at London Fashion Week for 14 years. The female form underpins his inspiration, becoming a tool to create elegant, romantic pieces. His brand has recently expanded in Asia, with the flagship store located in Beijing.
The growth has led to the creation of a range of dresses, jackets and separates. The collections are centred around a fun approach to dressing. Worn by a range of stars from Elle Fanning to Rita Ora, Aksu has dressed celebs alike, even making custom designs for musicians. Creating playful fashion through an appreciative approach to the female form has allowed Aksu to withstand the test of time.
Born in Lagos and raised in Glasgow, Olubiyi Thomas attended CSM graduating in 2013 with a BA in Menswear. Having gained experience working at Alexander McQueen, he became a creative director at De Rien (now defunct). Thomas left in 2015 to create his own label. Art is at the center of Olubiyi’s approach to garment design and experimentation. Deconstructed pieces/elements combined with fine silhouettes and tailoring create an “avant garde aesthetic”.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SCHEDULE
Other than finding out about the diverse talent in the industry, LFW had an array of content to offer fashion connoisseurs – here are my top 5 highlights.
1. wHY ARE WE COMPELLED TO CREATE?
A short video montage made for LFW included the various insights of designers and creatives from all backgrounds and walks of life. It was fascinating to see what fashion – broadly art, at its barest, as a medium for creation, meant to and for people who live for it.
2. JAMES MASSIAH: CLIO CORSET
As a lover of poetry myself, I couldn’t help but enjoy James Messiah’s performance of his poem ‘Clio Corset’. He states that “Clio Corset captures all the things that are fun about Summer and all the things we might miss because of lockdown”.
3. British Fashion Council Fashion Forum PodcasT
At the intersection of art, fashion and culture, influential voices came together to offer their views on various related topics in this short series. The podcast kicked off with music turned entrepreneur Tinie Tempah and Dylan Jones – BFC Menswear Chair.
4. BFC & Google Panel Discussion: The importance of collaboration fashion sustainability
Enriching, insightful discussion that the public has access to is of great importance in my opinion. Especially when issues like sustainability affect the various industries creatives operate in. To see open conversation with experts and key players in their field, helps a fashion lover like myself understand how the industry is tackling this problem.
5. MTV X BFC – with ICEBERG and River Island – Music Meets Fashion Competition
Having found out about the competition, I felt very appreciative as a young creative, new to the industry and entering with a complex background. All of which, I’ve been able to do is through the incredible opportunities I’ve been offered by my mentors. I hope young people, irrespective of their backgrounds, are able to access opportunities and make their mark in creative spaces.
An integration of technology, fashion and art have created a unique experience for the fashionistas. In the future, it would be interesting to see the scope of technology for such an event like London Fashion Week, and possibly how this could be incorporated into designers/artists work. After all, what would the industry be without pushing boundaries?
WORDS BY LOUISE WORTHINGTON
Disclaimer – all images within this article are sourced from London Fashion Week‘s official press release. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd. does not own the copyright to the images in this article. All rights reserved.