Naivety runs throughout London Fashion Week. Thanks to support systems such as Fashion East and the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN scheme, 20-something talents, just a few years out of college, are given a spotlight to show alongside established brands. That means that London tends to be full of highly personal shows; collections that reference the trials and tribulations that face all young people living in a big, punishing, expensive city. Forget lofty concepts, or shows that pay tribute to a theme or artist, these shows are often about heartbreak, financial struggle, sexuality, gender identity and childhood. They are relatable for their honesty.
For S/S 17, Marta Jakubowski was a case in point. Naivety was embraced. She used her mother’s recent funeral as a starting point, musing on the purity of a child’s love for their mother. That’s the most innocent, sincere emotion there is - and that was reflected in the sweet, almost saccharine tones and the strange simplicity of the shapes and forms. This was about youth and the young - not in that usual way fashion fetishises the teenage body and youth culture, but in a strangely sombre, touching way, which bottled the awkwardness and impulsiveness of childhood and early experience. A carousel set created by Gary Card hammered this point home quite literally, but it came through subtly in quieter details, such as the dandelion faux-tattoos that crept out from under garments, and the strange, surprising cut-outs in clothes, that were part sexual, part innocent, seemingly unaware of their provocative, almost fetishist placement. They also suggested the carefree innocence of childhood - before appearance insecurities and awareness of the power of one’s own body sets in. India had provided another reference. Jakubowski had spent a summer travelling the country, taking in how its inhabitants celebrate rather than mourn death. The reference was most obvious in the palette and that brilliant, hot pink. Jakubowski had stuck tightly to her chosen tones - a smart move which gave the collection a punch and a sense of precision.
All in all, it was sad yet sweet. Sexy yet childlike, odd but beautiful. It existed between states and moods. But that’s apt. Jakubowski herself is at the intersection between maturity and youth. She’s a name-to-know, but still emerging. Established, but still up-and-coming. Despite her recent loss, she’s thriving in this in between stage.