If it’s not those two times of the year when London is taken over by London Fashion Week, fashion shows are few and far in between. Fashion for Show, a collaborative effort of 11 students of menswear, womenswear, knitwear and set design, quenches the independent fashion aficionado’s thirst for a straightforward and drama-free presentation that focuses on showcasing fresh young design. The original team of Magdalena Gustafsson, Lisette Norrby, Sara Arnesen, Pauline Edwall, Andrea Mongenie and Timothy Bouyez-Forg, who showed last year, was reinforced with menswear designers Julia Björkeheim and Audrey Littman, and joined by product designers Pauline Richard, Daniel Windfeldt, and Phan Thao Dang.
With their shared fashion sensibility, they put their heads together to create an impressive line-up of looks that conveyed the individual styles of the participants in a cohesive whole. Dazed Digital interviewed three of the design collective’s members, discussing their divergent visions as they each explored this years’ ‘The Deviant’ theme.
Dazed Digital: What do you study and where?
Magdalena Gustafsson: I am in the second year, doing a BA in knitwear at Central Saint Martins.
DD: What’s the inspiration behind your pieces?
Magdalena Gustafsson: The looks I’m showing are made up of pieces in wool and mohair, and also in artificial hair. I was inspired by the work of two photographers – Renée and Radka – whose images of children wearing wigs underwater influenced the patterns I used. In water, fabric becomes lighter and creased, so I wanted to work with that, creating patterns that transform from representing a girl into something more abstract.
DD: How did Fashion for Show’s theme ‘The Deviant’ inform your collection?
Magdalena Gustafsson: The images of the photographers look very surreal, different from other photography. Also working with hair gives a strange feel to the collection.
DD: You also participated in the first ‘Fashion for Show’. Do you notice a progression in your work?
Magdalena Gustafsson: I definitely got a lot better in the technical stuff! This time I was also more emotional about it. Even though it has become more serious in a sense, I enjoyed it a lot more. We are a great group of friends and a great team.
DD: What do you study and where?
Julia Björkeheim: I’m a first-year Menswear student at London College of Fashion.
DD: Why menswear?
Julia Björkeheim: It’s more of a challenge to me than womenswear. As a woman, you know your body and what clothes might look like on you. When I design I don’t want to be thinking “would I wear that?” – it does not need to be wearable for myself in the first place.
DD: You are one of the designers who are new to Fashion for Show. Is it your first time showing?
Julia Björkeheim: Yes, it is my first proper fashion show! I’ve never had a full collection before so it’s a bit scary …
DD: What are you showing?
Julia Björkeheim: The five outfits are inspired by late ‘90s, early ‘00s hip-hop music videos. Their style is playful, but at the same time they take themselves very seriously. I also let my own experimentations with dying fabrics, quilting and colours direct my designs.
DD: How is your collection ‘deviant’?
Julia Björkeheim: I think the fact that I use really lame, bleached colours. I’m having a weird colour period right now, which I seem to have to go through! I never use black because I think it can be a bit easy, and I want to challenge myself. The balance between being edgy and using soft colours interests me.
DD: What and where do you study?
Audrey Littman: I’m at Ravensbourne University, in my second year studying Menswear.
DD: You were at Fashion for Show last year but not as a participant.
Audrey Littman: Last year I presented the show, now I’m upgraded, and showcasing my work as well!
DD: What are the influences in this collection?
Audrey Littman: I was thinking about fabrics and colours that inspire me. I wanted to create a look that is not typically masculine but inspired by womenswear, which lead to a romantic look. Me and Julia lived in Whitechapel for a while and I just got so inspired by the colours, caftans and the ethnic jewellery you find there. My design influences are Marni and Dries Van Noten, and I want to go more in that direction of wearable colourful menswear. The jewellery adds an element of styling to the total looks, which is something I’m also very interested in.
DD: So how does your style ‘deviate’?
Audrey Littman: I think my work is about using colours that make you look differently at what menswear can be. In a sense, I try to convert womenswear into wearable menswear.