LONDON — Female power and sexuality sparked the creativity of many of the emerging fashion names in London this season, who showcased their work at the British Fashion Council’s Discovery Lab show space.
Through immersive presentations, designers delivered different takes on femininity and conveyed powerful social statements with their fall collections.
Central Saint Martins graduate Katie Ann McGuigan took the spotlight with her feminine reinterpretation of Japanese Bosozoku — or “Speed Tribe” — biker subculture, that resulted in a vibrant representation of a powerful underground girl gang.
The designer looked at vintage imagery for inspiration, to channel the Bosozoku bikers’ attitude into the collection.
In particular, she injected the subculture’s signature approach of customizing uniforms with slogans in her grungy lineup, layering prints and textures in the shades of lilac, mint, ochre, navy and jade. “Road Runner,” “Only Night Angels” and “Highway Danger” slogans appeared on hand-printed leather biker jackets, which were paired with pleated skirts, organza tie-dye pants, floaty tulle dresses and chunky knitwear.
A different type of gang was on Natalie B. Coleman’s mind when conceiving her “Sisters” collection. The concept was centered around the needling craft passed down from mothers to daughters, along with the knowledge about female body and reproductive cycles. This turned into a range of knitwear pieces in wool and lace, featuring embellishment in the shape of women’s reproductive systems. Stylized versions were printed on silk long dresses with frills.
To further demystify preconceptions around the female body, Coleman also produced a more casual lineup of organic cotton hoodies bearing a crossing swords and blood graphic that will be launched in April and 10 percent of each sale is set to be donated to the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency.
Budapest-born Fabian Kis-Juhasz went down a similar path, questioning the relationship between womanhood and femininity, and challenging social preconceptions and expectations regarding how a body should look like.
“I really love this idea of the abject body and the aspects of femininity that remain unnoticed because they’re not that pleasing to the standards that we set for ourselves,” said the designer, who reimagined female anatomy, molding leather bodices to mimic body parts with undesired shapes.
Pieces included corsets featuring misshapen breasts, as well as bras sporting misplaced nipples and printed with lipstick marks. The rest of the lineup also played on the concept of femininity, with frill-trimmed satin dresses and ribbon-embellished tulle stockings.
Underage’s founder Ying Shen referenced cult film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and its impact on the sexual revolution movement in Seventies Britain.
The result was a dark, androgynous collection. She opted for a deconstructed approach to rework tailoring staples with colorful prints and jacquards — as seen on an asymmetric, blazer-like red dress — while sartorial fabrics were crafted into streetwear silhouettes, including paneled pants cuffed around the knees and ankles by leather straps.
Poster Girl’s energetic creative duo Francesca Capper and Natasha Somerville didn’t shy away from their signature sexy approach to fashion.
They staged their presentation in a fun, Fifties-like beauty salon set, but went for a Nineties-inspired kitschy aesthetic, with chainmail pieces layered over knit cycling pants and crystal-embellished dresses. Knitwear was also strong here, with a figure-hugging jumpsuit featuring playful black and fuchsia stripes and crystal detailing among the highlights.