Watermelon shaped wicker baskets, surfside Ocean Drive and Old Bollywood at London Fashion Week
London was buzzing with excitement during London Fashion Week. With so many designers to see - I wanted to get in on the action!
For the last few years I have been happy to see some strong craft influences on the catwalk from the likes of Shrimps, Julien Macdonald, Burberry, and Christopher Kane. These influences have continued and next season’s trends include brightly coloured accessories, knitwear, patchwork and embellishments, and queen of all the new trends - embroidery.
Here’s a roundup of some of the designers and shows that stood out the most,
Luxury shoes and accessories designer, Charlotte Olympia Dellal began designing due to her love of old Hollywood glamour. Charlotte took her passion to explore her interests and gain technical training in crafting beautiful shoes at Cordwainers. After graduating from Cordwainers, Charlotte launched her shoe brand in 2008 and has continued to expand her products to include bags and accessories. Her designs are all handmade with genuine leather and are feminine, playful, and contain a touch of humour.
Charlotte Olympia’s show at London Fashion Week was spectacular! For her Spring/Summer 2017 collection, she celebrated everything glamourous about enjoying your twilight years in style by the pool. The collection had many tongue-in-cheek moments and fruity twists including watermelon wicker baskets, parrot handbags, jewel encrusted heels, and even banana-shaped pumps. The crowd were also dazzled by a sparkly cabaret performance with models wearing emoji costumes.
Roberta Einer has quickly created a name for herself and is certainly a designer to watch. Originally from Estonia, Roberta came to London to study fashion at Central Saint Martins and University of Westminster. Before she finished her studies Roberta completed an internship with Mary Katrantzou and Alexander McQueen. Upon graduating in 2015, she moved to Paris to work at Balmain where she had fun with design, learnt traditional couture techniques, and developed her craft.
Roberta’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection took inspiration from the colours and art deco architecture of Miami’s South Beach as well as doing a modern-day take on 1980s poolside poster art. “I was looking at Miami’s art scene in the 1970s when it was still riding the wave of Pop Art,” explained Roberta.
Her highly woven fabrics featured embroidered tropical birds and plants, laser-cut denim, hand-painted leather, knitted skirts, pearls, and Swarovski crystals for that extra surfside Ocean Drive feel. “I wanted to recreate what all those strong characters like Bianca Jagger, Janice Dickson as well as supermodel Gia Carangi would be wearing if they went to Miami.”
My favourite had to be the tropical bomber jacket featuring laser-cut denim flowers, threadwork embroidery, hand-sewn pearls and Swarovski crystals. I could live in this every day (and instantly imagined myself out in social situations where I would....). Roberta’s presentation really inspired me and I could see how Miami had influenced her work. From the range of colours through to the playful nature of the presentation - it summed up South Beach pretty well. I can see a bright future for our London-based designer.
Ashish Gupta first showed at London Fashion Week in 2005 and went on to win the New Generation award three times. His story really brings home the saying "everything happens for a reason". Born in Delhi, he studied Fine Art in India, and then moved to London to complete an MA at Central Saint Martins. After graduating in 2000 his plans to work in a Paris design studio were foiled when his bag containing his entire portfolio of work and his cash was stolen. He quietly began making clothes for friends until being spotted by Yeda Yun, then of Browns Focus, who gave him his first order in 2001. Ashish is now stocked in over 60 international stores with celebrity clients including Beyonce, M.I.A, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Rita Ora, and Taylor Swift.
For Ashish’s Spring/Summer 2017 show we were taken on a journey through ‘Old Bollywood’. Traditional Salwar Kameez and Saris were given a modern twist with intricately embroidered skirts and shirts, sequined jackets, and loose slogan t-shirts. The collection was very gender-fluid and each model was covered in jewels including crowns, bracelets, and anklets. At one point, a model carried some roses to hand out to the crowd, and later another walked down the catwalk with a snake. It was truly a magical experience where you could easily forget where you were.
However, beyond the magic and sparkle of the evening Ashish had an important message to make. He wanted to celebrate immigrant lives through a display of unity through his show. From the collection shown, to the models chosen for the show – there was a sense of him wanting to show us the bigger picture. At the end of the show Ashish came on to the catwalk wearing a simple white top with black writing across it saying ‘immigrant’. I feel what Ashish was trying to say was that throughout history we were all immigrants in some way or another which shouldn’t limit us, and all of us have something to offer the world if given the opportunity to make our mark. We all realised we had witnessed something spectacular that bonded us all together that evening, and I now understand why the fashion crowd had unofficially adopted the Mayor’s #londonisopen.
Sara Khan is the Crafts Council's Press Manager