TALENT SCOUTING: Lee Lapthorne, the founder of On|Off, has recently brought the emerging talent showcase back to London, and is calling for young designers to take part in the February showcase.
The nonprofit organization is currently selecting designers for the off-schedule event that will take place once again at The Vinyl Factory in Soho during London Fashion Week.
A pioneering showcase since 2003, On|Off has served as a springboard for many a successful London label, including J.W. Anderson, Peter Pilotto and Gareth Pugh, and has traditionally been seen as a stepping stone to the BFC’s NewGen sponsorship for emerging talent. It was the first London show organization to live-stream its runway events and work with iTunes on downloadable fashion films.
The London-based women’s wear designer Robert Wun joined On|Off’s roster in September and most recently became a guest designer for “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” which features a dress for his graduate collection.
Wun’s nature-inspired asymmetric dress is worn by Elizabeth Banks in her role as Effie Trinket. “It’s one of the only characters in the movie that actually dresses really over-the-top flamboyant,” said Wun. “She’s like a style [luminary], fashion-y person.”
Wun graduated from London College of Fashion in 2012 before launching his eponymous collection the following year. A former intern for Lucas Nascimento, he worked as design assistant for that label’s spring 2011 line.
“As an emerging label from London, we are always looking for platforms or sponsorships in order for us to get to another level of recognition in the industry,” Wun told WWD. “I’ve learned so much from On|Off. The catwalk has been amazing, it really helped the collection a lot in terms of sales, and in terms of press recognition also.”
Wun has also dressed Lady Gaga, who borrowed his graduate line. “She loved the collection,” he said. “Especially the shoes — obviously.”
The last edition of On|Off took place on Sept. 18-21, when 15 designers staged both static and live presentations at The Vinyl Factory, a short walk from Brewer Street Car Park, the British Fashion Council’s new official show venue. The spring lineup featured designers from countries including the U.K., Ireland, Korea, Malaysia, the U.S. and Italy, and labels such as Manuel Facchini, PPQ, Clio Peppiatt, Asli Polat, and J Moon.
“We’re independent from London Fashion Week, we’re the fringe of fashion week,” said Lapthorne, a London-based academic and creative who stages events for fashion brands via his agency Doll. “There’s an awful lot of groundwork and mentoring that we’ve done, and I’m very proud of that. Moving forward, we hope to do more of that, but we still need the support to continue.”