Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Pet Shop Boys, 'Planet of the Apes' & Pac-Man

London Fashion Week is well on its way.......and either I am not getting it or fashion is being pushed sideways for collections that are created to look at rather then to be worn. I do love a bit of conceptual fashion (well thought out and executed and conceptual collections can literally leave you winded sometimes) but when it does in the hope that one can make front pages or get noticed then it all looks too contrived. The younger designers (and not so young) have started showing collections that would send any harajuku to wardrobe heaven. As opposed to any other fashion week in the world....London has always been seen to be cutting edge and more street. Now whilst I must agree with this and say that it has bred some of the finest designers most of them choose not to show there anymore and each year the contingent of press heavyweights tend to dwindle. This season the inspirations ranged from 'Planet of the Apes', Pac-Man, Pet Shop Boys to 'Blade Runner' (including a host of artists that even Google would have a problem finding!) . There is an extreme obsession with the 80's going on this week and whilst I find history repeating itself I cannot help think of my grand dame mentor , Jenny Le Roux, who has often said that the great thing about fashion repeating itself is that you can leave out the naff stuff. Well trust me the naff was there in all its finest glory......... Are they falling into the trap of trying to be so different that it ends up being just overhashed arbitrary inspirations that are so far removed from the clothing? Do I sense a bit of what is going on in SA................designers showing collections and justifying the ends without any explanation (logical or coherent). If one is aiming at designing purely conceptual fashion then where does the twain meet when it comes to making your collection commercially viable? I love Hussein Chalayan but where is he now? The same people that lauded his collections/installations are the same ones that begged at the end of the day to be able to wear them.......clearly wearing a dress as a table did not cut it (it appears that sitting in it posed a few problems...). The respect and praise that was heaped on him is now at an all time low......why? Simple being a great designer means being commercially successful in the real world...........being a pure artist is another thing altogether. I do hope that we are able to see him show again just for the mere fact that Hussein does conceptual like no one can at the was always well thought out and the presentation was pure genius.........and the garments superbly crafted. A far cry from the badly crafted collections that are coming out........Roksanda Ilincic being the most guilty here......with most saying she lacked the couture skills to pull off the collection she showed.

Christopher Kane S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira
Christopher Kane was another designer everyone was waiting for this season. Yep this is where "Planet of the Apes"served as the inspiration to the designer.......yup interesting. He does tend to overstate the one detail he picks up on.....last season it was the layers and layers of ruffles and this season its circle upon circle of organza. If I thought that I did not get this collection then I was fortunately not alone in that boat of confusion. The one thing though that must be said is that as a new designer to the scene he was trying to bring a commercial sense to the collection. The circle cutting was not all that new and if anyone cared to remember Valentino 3 seasons ago then one would note it was all premiered there. This was the boy that was touted as being able to assist Donatella Versace in breathing new life into the Versace brand.........he worked a bit with her and then it all fizzled one knows what really went on there.

Louise Goldin S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira

Kane was still great compared to Louise Goldin. Goldin known for her innovative take on knitwear showed a collection..............well you decide............That ubiquitous word 'interesting' reared its head post show which actually translates into : I'm not quite sure what that was about and I am not sure whether I missed something but I would rather reserve full judgement and take some time to digest it all and/or it was just an assault on my sense of taste!

Giles Deacon S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira
Giles (Giles Deacon) aka Pac Man showed another collection which was as he said "ridiculously simple but incredibly graphic". Again this was a collection that featured simple silhouettes with strong graphic colour blocking done in the construction of the dresses which again had everyone muttering that Giles has "grown up" fashion speak it would mean: Yes he has gotten over that experimental phase where he needed the attention and now he is into trying to create a consumer base for his clothes.

Richard Nicoll S|S 2009 Photographer: Marcio Madeira
So far Australian designer Richard Nicoll showed a strong collection. New takes on the classic T-shirt and pants with a clean sporty look and really great use of colour. In fact its not easy for a designer to take colours that are sometimes on the verge of bad taste and make it look fab in a garment. I liked this collection. Established Brit brands like Aquascutum, Mulberry, Jaeger and House of Holland showed interesting collections which were clear attempts at revitalising the staid perception of their brands and attracting a younger clientele without alienating their existing clients.

What I did find interesting was last week Marc Jacobs showed an eclectic and layered collection largely inspired by Broadway, American country naïveté and American designer Perry Ellis. Zany accessories and hats reigned supreme..........and the colours were electric, metallic tweeds, shot Lurex plaids and ginghams all in one melting pot but cleverly put together. Now it was interesting to see just how many designers seemed to have thrown in that multi-layered approach in their styling........down to the hats and in one collection even the same soundtrack ('Rhapsody in Blue' by George Gershwin) as Jacobs.............copying/inspiration it seems has no limits and sometimes no shame.........
London being no exception......


styleguide said...

Having watched Christopher Kane's collections in London for a couple of seasons now, I have to say that while they have always been visually arresting (and yet quite soothing with all that repetition), I have yet to be able to actually visualise a real live breathing woman wearing them. Maybe, like Giles Deacon, a tawdry collaboration with a high street store like New Look will actually reap rewards for CK by teaching him about accessibility and consumer demand? Or in industry speak, "help him grow up". It really seems to have paid off for Giles this season. Just a thought.

Gavin Rajah said...

yep i must agree robyn! giles was working it this could see that with the impressive line up of models booked for his was PR & PR & PR and sell sell sell! but CK is getting there.....we all hope!