Every couple of years, I get excited about a new crop of designers debuting during fashion week. During last week’s London Fashion Week, I was gobsmacked by two emerging designers, whose vision and creativity I would like to share with you.
Matty Bovan, a 2015 graduate of Central Saint Martins and winner of the prestigious LVMH Graduate prize, is ‘fashion’s great bright hope’ according to this Guardian article. His handmade one-of-a-kind creations, which he creates in his parent’s home in York, have been described as ‘off-kilter’ and ‘dystopic’. As I viewed his collection, I was dazzled by his use of neon colors, piles of knitted textured fabric and skewed textile patterns. He artfully placed fabric shreds and large knit swatches on billowy layers of crinoline. The hodgepodge of color, texture and pattern mesmerized me. I knew I was witnessing an emerging talent as soon I viewed some of his video interviews. He is as captivating as his designs and reminds me of 80s club kids who were known for their rebellious and outlandish fashion statements. His makeup, clothing and fashion sense are liberating and refreshing. Yet, what impressed me most is his humility and sense of humor. I’m hoping that the media attention and pressure won’t change him and he’s able to perpetuate his vision.
Richard Quinn is my second pick for most exciting fashion designer to watch. A fellow graduate of Central Saint Martins, he has garnered many accolades and is known for his bright mix of big prints and classic silhouettes. I was immediately struck by his choice of colors and floral pairings. The prints are so lush and regal, as evidenced by a grouping in the runway show aptly named “Balmoral” after the Queen’s Scottish summer estate.
Additionally, Quinn’s show made history when he presented his London Fashion Week collection. For the first time ever, the 91 year old Queen sat in the front-row alongside Vogue Editor’s Anna Wintour. The runway show followed the presentation of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British design.
Now for my pet peeve: a special honorarium is bestowed upon a designer by Queen Elizabeth and the honoree shows up looking like a sweatpant clad American cruising the aisles at Costco? Richard Quinn, didn’t you get the memo? You couldn’t lose the baseball cap? You were receiving a prestigious award from the Queen, not Jerry Springer. Your backstage hair team couldn’t drag a brush through your hair? And when is it acceptable to wear an untucked t-shirt under formless flannel when being honored? Dressing as impeccably as Tom Ford might be shooting for the stars, but what about dressing respectfully for the occasion?
When interviewed about his wardrobe faux-pas, he quipped “Obviously, I care about meeting the Queen, but I think it’s more endearing to wear what you feel comfortable in.” Eye roll. Sadly, decorum has been absent for too long. Time for Central Saint Martins to add a mandatory course to their roster: Fashion Designer Appropriate Attire 101 or What to Wear When Accepting an Honor.
In addition to Matty and Richard’s shows, here is my list of shows that are worth noting.
I’m always exhilarated by the London shows. The creativity, ingenuity and English inventiveness never fail to push the limits. The British tradition of textile innovation continues to expand the boundaries of the craft. This textile and creative ingenuity is cultivated at the design schools and in the design community. Designers are freer to experiment and not limited by the constraints of commercialism so prevalent in the NY collections. For that reason, I am London Calling.
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