London College of Fashion’s first standalone womenswear show exemplified why the university is amongst the most respected globally within the industry.
Backstage screams of utter relief punctuated the air as the eager attendees shuffled out of London College of Fashion’s first ever standalone Womenswear MA show tonight. With an alumni of titanic proportions – Jimmy Choo, JW Anderson, and even S Club’s Rachel Stevens – the twelve graduates selected to show at the Wallace Collection had a daunting task at hand.
Despite the clear cut separation of each collection via a dimming and brightening of the overhead lights, most of the offering focussed on the contortion of classically minimalist shapes and monochromatic colour schemes, while a few designers landed at the opposite end of the spectrum with hyper-detailed 3D prints, PVC bell skirts with built in bags, and a rather interesting ‘Westwood does St. Trinian’s’ contribution.
Yutong Jiang was the first to hit the runway with her perfectly puckered hems and sweeter-than-syrup baby-doll bows. The palette of red, pink and orange – with gingham accents – combined with awkward shapes, and knee high socks, made for a rather Comme des Garcons cum Tennis Club feel – and no one’s complaining. The collection apparently started with the words ‘naughty girl’ – there’s nothing naughty about beautiful bright drop shoulder coats, ribbed crop tops and huge angular chest ties, is there?
The highlight was Maria Piankov’s space-race collection, which felt like a well executed nod to sixties Courrèges, and was standalone in both calibre and wearability. Black and white cottons, techno-wools and neoprenes, with bright blue and orange appliquéd shapes, hung like simple space suits from the troupe of slow walking models in black cropped wigs. Perspex rectangles which read ‘Earth’ were tacked on to different parts of the upperwear, and chunky clutches made of the same were certainly the take home item. It is hard to know where a designer will go, of course, but Piankov’s futuristic aesthetic certainly has a future.
From moon minimalism to exaggerated Amish garments, Qiwen Wu’s pinstripe shoulder wraps, crisp white shirts and bandanna-bonnets provided the foundation for a very carefully crafted and intelligently tailored collection. Oversized strapped-up outerwear in all-black and all-white gave the impression of a cape-straight-jacket hybrid, while boxy, high waisted trousers, and full sleeve boleros added a crispness to the overall silhouette – which is no easy feat when belting and layering like this.
Elly Choi couldn’t have been further from this moody minimalism, with her baggy knee length checked shirts beneath mini school girl skirts. Huge sweaters with visible colourful whip stitching had school style blazers slung over their shoulders, and embroidered emblems sat on the left breast of brown and beige knitted tank tops. Imagine Oliver Twist took a turn at World’s End, throw in a bit of that ‘British boarding school for girls’ vibe and there you have it. Although Choi’s pieces felt comparatively less refined in their finish, there is most definitely potential for development within this aesthetic, for this was the only collection which seemed to capture any kind of punk feel – something which the fashion industry is in dire need of right now.
The absolute showstopper, though, were Kelly Cho’s vampish dominatrix skirts, jackets and trousers. In the shiniest (and kinkiest) black PVC and matte gold faux-leather the overall aesthetic, as well as the fine detailing, made for wearable, practical, sex. A stiffly structured bell skirt and PVC jacket both had built in actual (!) handbags which sat at the pelvis and the breasts respectively. Gold external zips, jacket pockets with had ‘hold-tight’ handles, hi-shine police hats and arm length black gloves (again, more PVC) indicate a woman who is happy to wear her sexuality on her person. The Kelly Cho woman is not afraid. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but in a world where so many male designers produce collections for this kind of woman (Olivier Rousteing and Ricardo Tisci et al.) it feels much more political for a female designer to be exploring such a trope. Kudos.
The entire offering was promising, and each designer has already been industry approved in part – with the selection panel for tonight’s showcase consisting of multiple fashion big wigs. In an industry where fashion giants roar, and lesser known design houses disappear daily, it is always both invigorating, yet rather nerve wracking to picture the future of any young designer. But if talent is what gets you far, then there is much promise coming out of LCF’s MA Class of 2015.
Words: Tom Rasmussen.
Styling: Anders Sølvsten Thomsen.
Make Up: Andrew Gallimore and the M∙A∙C PRO team.