For Royal College of Art graduate Supriya Lele, Saturday’s display marked numerous firsts; perhaps most notably the occasion announced her debut London Fashion Week appearance with Fashion East, in practical terms there was also the small matter of her static presentation being the first event of the season at Topshop’s AW17 showspace at the Tanks at Tate Modern: it was the very first thing many people saw that morning, and we all know first impressions count.
Luckily Lele didn’t disappoint. Tapping set design duo Studio Maud to enhance the display with flowers and curated objects, the designer explored her dual Indian-British cultural identity in the context of the female form. Translated to cloth this meant pink faux fur, red PVC skirts and black silk suits paired with barely there transparent plastic heels and an all encompassing feeling of elegance.
Following two seasons in Lele’s shoes, Mimi Wade made her first appearance on the Fashion East catwalk, with a collection titled ‘Dial M For Mimi’ (Hitchcock fans hold tight, while influenced by cinema, Wade’s initial inspiration came from the Pink Panther’s ‘Dial P For Panther, something the soft palette on show affirmed). As noted in previous outings, Wade’s aesthetic goes in heavy on the feminine silhouette and here things were no different: 50’s pencil skirts partnered low cut square necklines as the kitsch glamour vibe continued with the addition of pink marabou fur and fantastic cloud pieces (read: glittered frocks with appliqued cloud shapes). Not interested in confirming to a single narrative, the moment concluded with Liam Lynch’s “United Stated of Whatever” playing overhead.
Another newbie to the Lulu Kennedy fold, British-Asian designer A Sai Ta impressed from the get go with a press release that doubled as Chinese takeaway menu – ignore the haters, fashion is perfectly capable of comedy – while the south Londoner followed with a collection that went heavy on the texture. Boasting a mix of all white looks and brightest of the bright get ups, the Asai line-up saw shirt silhouettes redesigned, knitwear cut up and patched together with translucent fabrics, and early noughties era Sienna Miller inspired belts make the cut; mixed by Larry B, Mutya Buena’s “Real Girl” soundtracked the finale.
Having Winne Harlow and Adwoa Aboah open and close your show, respectively, is no small feat, but it was far from the only delight on show at Matty Bovan’s second Fashion East catwalk. Here the Yorkshire born designer made a subtle departure from his usual vivid designs, presenting instead something that felt more considered: the signature magpie knits and busy aesthetic remained, but the palette and overall vibe spoke of something deeper than garish design. The addition of a cardboard set by William Farrow and warpaint make-up only further enhanced this notion.