by Alex Fury .

The Walk Through at Fashion East: Louise Gray

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The success of Lulu Kennedy's Fashion East over the past few years cannot be overstated - a clutch of her former proteges now form the hot tickets of every twenty-first century London Fashion Week, while two have already flown the nest to further electrify New York and Paris. Kennedy's imprimatur holds real weight, and this season it was bestowed upon newcomer Natascha Stolle, David David and Louise Gray. First up was Stolle, a graduate of Central Saint Martin's MA and former design assistant at Peter Jensen - who, gentleman that he is, sat front-row at his first fashion show as spectator to cheer her on. Stolle's MA collection was only shown in March, and accordingly she wisely decided to refine the ideas and techniques originally proposed in that show: namely a porcelain applique applied to fabric, reminiscent of crocodile more than any conventional needleworking technique. Her collection was for girls who wished they were sluts at school (her words, not mine), with super high-waist skirts and trousers, Jerry Hall hair and lashings of red lipstick. Think Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl and you get the idea. While she is still somewhat under Jensen's shadow ( a ruffle-print screamed of his influence) this was a offering with distinct future promise. David Saunders opted to show a film rather than conventionally present a collection (of course an approach SHOWstudio can much appreciate). His short was bright, chirpy and above all happy, a riot of graphic print playing out like an early-Nineties music video with pieces that are basic enough but zing with fresh, vibrant energy in primaries and pastels. To close we had Louise Gray - and it was third time lucky, without a doubt. Despite beautiful tailoring and interesting approaches to colour and decoration, some of her applications in the past have appeared slightly heavy and a little too infantile for comfort (or for sales). This season, Gray sharpened her game, offering a collection that was harder, tougher, sexier and more sophisticated. There was an industrial - even brutalist - feel in her use of metal and chain-mail, appliqued once more to dresses in her signature style, but this time to dresses pulled closer (but not too close) to the body. The sexiness was the unexpected element and Gray seemed to have really worked to make her clothes appeal to a grown-up woman with money to spend on something truly original for the evening. She is more than ready to strike it alone.

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