Fashion East took over the ICA this season with two presentations and a show. Mary Benson had her most confident season yet, working with make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench to present a collection heavy with vinyl applique, beaded knitwear and body paint. Berets topped retro wide-collared shirts, glitter found its way onto everything (it covered one model's entire ear, in a great, deliberate way) and recurring black denim kept everything as grounded as possible. Between her and Ed Marler’s full-blown homages to eighties club kids and extravagant catwalk shows, it’s clear the ubiquitous seventies revival is dying a death.
For her Fashion East debut Caitlin Price showed slick, satin sportswear heavy with hand-finished appliques. The contrast worked, particularly on low-slung voluminous trousers and bomber jackets and the peeking straps of a G string added humour to an otherwise cool collection.
Finally, the jewel in the crown of Fashion East this season was without question Ed Marler, a designer already so divisive it’s tempting to spend the show with your eyes glued to the faces of the journalists in the front row instead of the runway. 'Did he even make the clothes?' one person asked as we walked out, 'does it even matter?' replied another. He did, by the way and they were perfect. Inspired by Del Boy and TV kitsch, Marler championed an Only Fools and Horses themed set and the golf caps, sleazy silk dressing gowns and bumsters were loud, fun and heavy with iconic references. Matthew Joseph’s casting was on point - Reba Maybury opened the show dancing down the catwalk like Rossy de Palma on a night out in Peckham and the press release specifically thanked 'all my friends for modeling for free!' It’s fashion which feels part of something bigger, something that’s happening in dark corners of the capital; a promise that London might still have that elusive 'it' between the high street vanity projects and quietly sponsored sportswear brands. Thank God, in a Meadham Kirchhoff free fashion week, we still have funny, intelligent and daring young designers like Ed Marler.