Fashion East is a good barometer for judging the spirit of the times. Lulu Kennedy compiles bright young things to give their verdict on what fashion should be right now. The answer? Bright. Bold. Messy. Odd. Isn’t that what London Fashion Week has always been? Mimi Wade, Matty Bovan, A.V. Robertson and Richard Malone were looking back as much as they were forward. The first, who showed via a presentation rather than the runway, cited vintage movies such as Morthra from 1961 and I Dream Of Jeanie from 1965 when dreaming up her slogans and silhouettes. Fun for a new generation who love gimmicks and costumey get ups, but maybe staid for those who have seen it all the first time round.
Up first on the runway was Matty Bovan - London’s new fashion it kid. His maximalist aesthetic speaks to those looking to new talent for light relief, conjuring the images of club kids and Leigh Bowery hedonism that people look to London for. But he’s no gimmick - he’s cut his teeth working with Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu and, despite his tender years, pulled in big name collaborations to add weight to his collection. Coach provided the bags, while Linda Farrow gave sunglasses. His mother did the clay jewellery - sweet. There were unexpected materials throughout - vinyls, velours and diamanté synthetics jostled for space alongside hand-painted surfaces and woven plastics. So far, so fun. Let’s hope Bovan keeps his momentum. Other similarly hyped talents such as Meadham Kirchhoff and Louise Gray have struggled to turn their eccentric dream worlds in viable businesses. Fashion’s not always kind to the dreamers.
A.V. Robertson has also been the focus of overzealous buzz from the press. Last season, when her former boss Marc Jacobs sat front row at her Fashion East debut, social media went into overdrive. No pressure. This season, the mania had calmed slightly and the focus was on the clothes. The show notes suggested avant garde references - there was talk of alien invasions and plants that mutate humans - but there was an inherent conservatism to those looks. Perhaps it was the sky-high Louboutins, but the models looked too traditionally lady-like for this to really intrigue a viewer. But then again, there’s a fine market for London-designed party-wear. If Robertson has her sights set on catering to the cocktail market then this was on the money.
Last up was Richard Malone, whose designs focus on subverting working class stereotypes. His bright blue, yellow and orange designs took longer to register than the looks before them. They lacked the immediate visual appeal - but thats the point. He’s hoping to build garments that have an intense, evolving relationship with their wearer, rather than ones that simply pop on Instagram. He was a refreshing addition to the mix.