Harry Evans and Charlotte Knowles — both MA graduates from Central Saint Martins’ fashion programs — took to two narrow, higgledy-piggledy houses off east London’s Brick Lane to present their collections under the Fashion East umbrella Monday.
Evans took a distinctly more-is-more approach, showing his opulent, gender-fluid designs on male and female models. “It’s kind of really indulgent bad taste,” said Evans. “The colors and the fabrics are all slightly offensive, but I think really nice at the same time.”
Indeed, many of Evans’ designs had a classical, by way of Versace, inspiration. One male model wore a pleated gold skirt with a matching shirt, while another wore a pink satin camisole dress with a pleated skirt that resembled a gladiator’s uniform. It was embellished with shells.
Earrings crafted from light clay and inscribed with hieroglyphs added to the madcap, ancient-meets-modern vibe of this very editorial collection.
Knowles, meanwhile, had already made waves with her graduate collection of subversive, lingerie-inspired designs that played with the codes of femininity. For her first London Fashion Week presentation, the designer said she’d wanted to continue to explore those ideas. “I wanted it to feel very feminine and very sensual, but also very functional,” said Knowles, who turned out skimpy, swimwear-like designs toughened up with utility details.
One hybrid piece combined a string bikini and a one-piece with heavy shoulder straps. It was worn with a fanny pack belt that threaded through the suit’s waist. Models also wore nylon shorts with drawstring waists, or multifunctional bags that could be carried or strapped around the body. They were rendered in a palette of tropical floral prints that looked slightly faded, combined with flat khakis and grayish blues.
“It’s about the double standard of men’s swimwear and women’s swimwear. On the beach, it’s fine for a woman to wear a micro-bikini and a thong. But then in day-to-day life women are expected to cover up,” said Knowles of the thinking behind the collection’s knowing blend of girlish and rugged details.