Three collections from three very different designers made up the catwalk show for this seasons much anticipated edition of Fashion East, supported by TopShop. The three designers chosen for the Spring Summer 12 platform were Marques' Almeida, James Long and Maarten van der Horst. First up was relative newcomers Marques' Almeida, with Marta Maques and Paulo Almeida behind the collection. The duo met at the Fashion School in Portugal, graduating in 2007 and relocating to London in 2009 after stints at Vivienne Westwood and Preen respectively. Their heavily denim and streetwear influenced collection relied on oversized elements and deconstructed and degraded shapes and fabrics.
Then came James Long, who has been gradually establishing himself as a strong figure on the circuit, garnering a great deal of attention with his fantastical and technically adept knitwear. The final show of the three was Maarten van der Horst, a graduate from the Arhem's Artez institute of arts. This collection was the second showing he has made in London and brought his technically advanced skills to the fore with a fine balancing act of graphic Hawaiian shirt inspired prints and heavily embellished pieces.
Dazed Digital: Where were you pulling inspiration for this season?
James Long: Ginger from Casino was really at the centre of the show, the feeling of how Gerry Hall used to rock up to Studio 54. Not necessarily what she was wearing or how she looked, but more the attitude that you can see coming through in photographs of her around that time.
DD: How did you move things forwards from last season?
James Long: We obviously kept the knitwear and leather elements in there, binding them together and working a lot on hemlines and the varying feelings you can get from experimentations there. There was a bit of a dancer in there as well, like the way people would dance at clubs in New York in the 70s.
DD: Is that where you took the palette from as well?
James Long: Yeah, it was all those silvers and gold shimmers from that 70s era, and then layered a lot to create variations of texture and weight. We also worked a lot with the beading, which was all about the way that hangs on a bias without doing a particularly sculptured silhouette.
Dazed Digital: What was behind this collection for you?
Maarten van der Horst: I made this collection because I had these super crazy ideas but at the same time had a real desire to dress my friends. That meant that proportion wise I just wanted it to be flattering and sexual and raw with a lot of energy. In the end I just used prints that I love and that have always been really inspirational to me. At this point in my career I am starting to really work on discovering who my girl is.
DD: Who do you think she is?
Maarten van der Horst: Someone really fun and gutsy enough to wear frills on the back of a Hawaiian shirt. While it looks really out there I wanted everthing to be super considered, working with these vibrant ingredients but at the same time make it really slick.
DD: There felt like there a bit of a power woman in there as well this season.
Maarten van der Horst: I always cut my jackets really boxy and I like the kind of tackiness and shine that those city girls have. I like the fact that she looks so dressed up and then she turns around and from the back she looks like a yeti, which I love. Its me trying to do a dress up version of my crazy ideas.
DD: Where do you find your prints?
Maarten van der Horst: A lot of them come from researching old vintage Hawaiian prints, which I then develop mtyself. When I graduated I used them again but it was almost in an ironic way, but as we have progressed I have started appreciating them a bit more, so the irony has actually all gone. I just really enjoy the fact that the colours are so amazing.