A new generation of designers are emerging from the UK capital, rekindling London’s reputation within the global fashion community as a centre for experimentation.
In the nineteen-nineties, the spectacular runway shows at Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh brimmed with visceral energy. London Fashion Week was cast as the enfant terrible of the fashion world, a reputation which the city maintained in the years which followed. However, increasing commercialisation, combined with the closure of iconic brands such as Meadham Kirchhoff, have led many to speculate that the city has lost its ‘edge’.
Be that as it may, a wave of recent graduates are embodying LFW’s eclectic spirit once more. To see proof we need only look to Mimi Wade’s S/S 17 collection, where tongue-in-cheek slogans, bold prints and unexpected cuts came together in a cacophony of nineties nostalgia. Elsewhere, frills, jewel tones and electric blue eyeshadow at Ryan Lo evoked the excess of John Water’s ‘Pink Flamingoes’.
Furthermore, due to the logistical and financial implications of staging a runway show, recent graduates cannot afford to present their collections in the time-honoured manner. As a result, the fashion presentation is gaining ground as a rival to the catwalk, with surprising effects. Given their smaller scale, presentations afford greater experimentation at a lower cost and designers have been taking advantage of this to play with concept and sound. Take the example of Gabriel Vielma’s S/S 17 presentation, where the designer played with ideas of femininity and fun by using a pastel-hued beauty salon as a backdrop.
Indeed, while no one could recapture the grandeur of McQueen at his peak, the infectious enthusiasm of this new wave of designers is a step in the right direction.