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A host of fresh — and returning — names will dot the London fashion scene this season. Here’s some of the city’s buzziest talent.
This story first appeared in the February 5, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Krystof Strozyna launched his MA collection at the Central Saint Martins graduate show in London last year, and was a first-time winner of the New Generation sponsorship from Topshop and the British Fashion Council. Shortly afterward, his sculptural cotton dresses, all in subtle shades of beige, were picked up by Harrods. And though his designs are minimal, the Polish-born, London-based Strozyna doesn’t shy away from adornment. For the CSM show, his models wore clunky chain necklaces and oversize black lacquered wood bangles that were as much a feature of the collection as the garments. For fall, the designer has been inspired by Bauhaus architecture.
After cutting their design teeth on a men’s collection in 2002, Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff made the jump to women’s wear for fall 2007. In past seasons, the two Central Saint Martins alums and winners of the New Generation sponsorship have taken inspiration from diverse sources — from the photography of Mary Ellen Mark to what they call “Parisian bourgeois taste.” For spring, that meant structured dresses inset with lace panels and sheer, billowing pleated skirts paired with bouclé jackets. For fall, the duo are set to riff on the idea of armor — in both its decorative and protective sense — with Nico and Tina Chow as their muses. “There is an element of toughness and sophistication about the women we dress,” said Meadham.
Marcus Wilmont, a Central Saint Martins men’s wear graduate, and Maki Aminaka Löfvander, who studied women’s wear at Sweden’s University College of Boras, bring elements of their respective design disciplines to their line, Aminaka Wilmont. The two, who are a couple, won London’s Fashion Fringe competition in September. Their spring 2008 collection offered Grace Jones-worthy hooded dresses and tailored jackets with Space Age bold shoulder pads. For fall, they’ve mined similarly futuristic themes, taking their inspiration from the 1982 sci-fi film “Tron” and computer graphics of the same era. “The overall feel is modern, sleek and slightly otherworldly,” said Wilmont.
Vivienne Westwood Red Label
Dame Vivienne Westwood is back in her literal — and spiritual — home of London for the first show of her successful Red Label collection. The line blends Savile Row-inspired tailoring with Westwood’s signature corset shapes. This season, she said her muse was “decadence for a lost time…Marilyn Monroe, the dance of Fred Astaire and the bizarre King Kong love story.”
Black certainly isn’t new to fashion: During his 19-year career, he’s worked at Giorgio Armani, designing the brand’s Borgonuovo label, and Ferragamo, where he was head of women’s wear until 2007. But the Scottish designer has returned to Britain for the first catwalk show of his namesake label. The collection, which he previously presented in his Milan showroom, has featured simple, draped gowns and such inventive separates as cape-like boleros. For fall, Black took his cue from his birthplace, using Scottish materials like cashmere yarn manufactured by Todd and Duncan and hand-knitted wool from Edinburgh. Colors include heather, bilberry (which resembles blackberry) and Orkney green. He says the handcrafted pieces “are light in construction and heavy on Caledonian glamour.”
Ossie Clark London
The Ossie Clark label will take its first steps toward a revival with a fashion week presentation. The storied house, which is being relaunched by Marc Worth, will show separates and maxidresses by designer Avsh Alom Gur. “It’s important to bring the label forward and make it modern and contemporary,” said Gur. While he tapped Clark’s archives for inspiration, the collection has a definite modern edge. Prints inspired by Clark’s Sixties and Seventies heyday are in a palette of reds, greens and burnt orange.
“This collection is for real women,” said tailor Edward Sexton, who will make his runway debut with an off-schedule show as well as an on-schedule presentation. “I’m very influenced by the Sixties and Seventies but with timeless elegance — what real women want to wear.” And he should know: Stella McCartney trained with Sexton, and he is the go-to man for bespoke, tailored women’s clothing. Sexton and Tommy Nutter created Bianca Jagger’s oft-copied white wedding pantsuit. For fall, Sexton’s collection includes cashmere coats, high-cut wide-leg trousers and shirts. He also collaborated with London-based trouser brand Slacks & Co.
This season, British fashion stalwart Jaeger will host its first fashion week runway show for the Jaeger London line. Launched in 2005, the line was created to appeal to a more contemporary customer. “It’s very much a design-led business,” said Belinda Earl, Jaeger’s group chief executive officer of Jaeger London, which is already sold in the Middle East, Japan and the U.K. “The Jaeger London customer understands fabrics, quality, cut and detail, which plays to our British heritage.” For fall, designer Karen Boyd was inspired by Veruschka and Talitha Getty.
Poltock & Walsh
The British design team Fiamma Poltock and Katie Walsh hotfooted it to New York to present their third ready-to-wear collection last spring in a show sponsored by Henri Bendel. But they’re back on home turf for fall, showing their line on mannequins at the Exhibition, with help from a New Generation sponsorship, and as an off-schedule show at London’s Science Museum during fashion week. The duo — who have done stints at Alexander McQueen and John Richmond — have played in past collections with sheer, layered chiffon dresses and miniskirts with layers of ruffles. For fall, they intend to work with cottons and wools, taking their cues from Madame Vionnet-inspired draping and Art Deco color blocking.
For their second runway collection at London Fashion Week, Daniela and Annette Felder will play on their signature look, which combines feminine fabrics with a design edge. “The theme of the collection is ‘grunge de luxe,'” said Annette Felder. “It takes our signature a step further with a lot of layering.” The brand, which also won a New Generation sponsorship to show at the Exhibition, is already sold in Selfridges and at Podium in Moscow, and elsewhere.
Shoe designer and New Generation winner Nicholas Kirkwood will showcase his sky-high heels with subtle Japanese and Spanish influences. “They’re quite dressy, but not in a traditional way,” he said, adding fan-like details will appear on some styles. Kirkwood favored mini booties and closed-up styles for fall, mainly in shades of purple and black. The brand is sold at Harvey Nichols and Dover Street Market in London, Madison Los Angeles and Seven New York, among others.
Charlotte Dellal has, up until now, been best known as a fashion plate on London’s social scene. But the daughter of Brazilian model Andrea Dellal and property developer Guy Dellal has a hidden métier, too. This month, the 26-year-old graduate of London’s Cordwainers footwear design program will officially unveil her full footwear line, Charlotte Olympia, at the Exhibition. She produced four styles for Dover Street Market and four for Austique for spring, including wedges woven from raffia and silk stiletto pumps fashioned from Kimono fabrics. For fall, the glam mood is inspired by “nostalgic show pieces, reminiscent of American vaudeville, [in] dusty muted colors, with hints of red and animal prints.” After fashion week, she’ll show at the Crillon in Paris with Tom Binns, from Feb. 28 to March 4.