This story first appeared in the February 16, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A clutch of new names is nudging its way onto London’s runways this season.
Mark Fast, a London-based Canadian who’s made a name whipping up delicate, form-fitting knit dresses, is staging his first on-schedule runway show in London. “This collection tells the story of two lovers in a lightning storm,” said Fast, describing his fall inspirations. “I wanted to create a collection that expresses the joy of being in nature, where it is just the trees and the breeze of the fresh mist from the side of the mountain.”
Meanwhile, Mary Katrantzou, an Athens-born Central Saint Martins graduate, will show back-to-back with Fast at the British Fashion Council’s Natural History Museum venue. This season, she has taken vintage perfume bottles as the starting point for her printed dresses. While Katrantzou, who is known for her bold, jewelry print dresses, graduated from CSM’s M.A. program only last year, she already counts Browns Focus in London, Colette in Paris and Joyce in Hong Kong among her retail clients.
Fashion East, a program that supports young designers and has in past seasons brought names such as Richard Nicoll, Marios Schwab and Jonathan Saunders to the fore, is now among London’s must-see shows. New to its lineup for fall are Holly Fulton and Maria Francesca Pepe, who join Natascha Stolle in her second season as part of the group show. Fulton, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, has garnered attention for her heavily embellished dresses in simple silhouettes. “References include Eduardo Paolozzi, robotic stuff and circuit boards,” said Fulton, adding she’ll work with materials including “Swarovski crystallized elements, lots of luxurious leathers, hand-enameled metal, laser-cut Perspex and a dash of digital print.” Pepe, meanwhile, started out designing graphic jewelry in silver and brass after graduating from the Central Saint Martins masters program, and will show a full ready-to-wear collection for the first time. “The collection will be very feminine without being obvious,” Pepe noted. “I…have built up a warrior woman who faces her femininity without being weak. There will be a great mix of trousers, jackets, coats, and dresses — plus vintage-inspired evening bags. The jewelry remains the prime focus, since it works as both the frame for the outfits and as a component itself.”
This season’s crop of New Generation-sponsored designers is rapidly becoming established on the London scene.
Known for his packed-to-the-rafters shows — often starring his best pal Agyness Deyn — Henry Holland says his House of Holland collection for fall will take inspiration from “paint sample cards and Pantone color sheets — as I’ve spent countless weekends in [British hardware store] B&Q trying to work out what color to paint my house.” Expect a collection full of sharp, tailored pieces in “tactile” cashmeres, silks and wools, says Holland.
Meadham Kirchhoff designers Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, meanwhile, are taking their cues from desire, sex and luxury. “We’re exploring the introspection of falling in love through the use of multilayered and contrasting fabric textures,” said Meadham.
Danielle Scutt — who counts Michael Jackson and Picasso among her fall inspirations — said she’s worked up a collection “much more structured and tailored than the last. It’s about construction and physical change to the body this time, with corsetry in the garments and prints that aren’t as organic.”
New in Town
Kinder Aggugini has already notched plenty of fashion accolades: He’s served as head designer at Versace and held positions at Calvin Klein, Costume National and Vivienne Westwood. Now, after presenting his namesake collection of silk puffball dresses and jackets in Paris last season, he’ll stage a runway show at London’s Paramount Club for fall. “The fall collection is inspired by the musical concept of mash up,” said Aggugini. “Pieces are created from the combination of two or more elements of overlaying shapes, textiles and ideas to form a bold, beautiful strong new silhouette.”
Sienna and Savannah Miller, meanwhile, are showing theirTwenty8Twelve label on the runway for the first time this season. Savannah Miller said inspirations for the fall line include Charlie Chaplin, highwaymen and Grace Jones. “When all chucked in to the melting pot, we have come out with a classic Twenty8Twelve feeling but with a much more modern edge than we have ever visited before,” said Miller.
London designer Maria Grachvogel is also back on the London schedule this season after a few years’ hiatus, and will show a collection of Thirties-inspired masculine tailoring in a presentation at Covent Garden’s Hospital Club on Feb. 23.
Hats are elevating in status from side show to main event, with emerging hat and headwear designers rapidly joining the schedule. Nasir Mazhar, known for his offbeat presentations — such as models wearing rusty scissors on their heads — will stage an on-schedule show.
Justin Smith, who, like Mazhar, is a former hairdresser, will show his fall collection as part of the On/Off schedule at London’s Science Museum.
Smith’s past collections have incorporated materials like oversize buttons, doll’s heads and bunches of pearls.
Piers Atkinson, who got early exposure to the millinery craft when his mother made hats for the Royal Opera House and English National Opera, will show his collection as part of designer Ashish’s show.
Avant-garde London hairdresser Charlie Le Mindu will also step into the fray, showing 15 wigs and hairpieces made from a mixture of hair, fabric and Swarovski crystals. “Somehow it’s all happened at the right time,” said Atkinson of the boom in London headgear. “The recession happened, and people wanted a bit of fun.”