Bianca Saunders, Per Götesson, and Paria Farzaneh all brought their heritage-inspired designs to the SS19 show schedule
With Craig Green and Grace Wales Bonner missing from the London men’s schedule this season, you might have thought the SS19 shows were going to be quieter than usual. With some of the heavyweights pursuing different routes, it just meant the big names of tomorrow could step things up – take Samuel Ross and his visceral, immersive A-COLD-WALL* show for example, or Charles Jeffrey’s futuristic vision of a genderless utopia.
Among the crop of new faces you should be paying attention are Bianca Saunders, Per Götesson, and Paria Farzaneh – a trio of designers interpreting their heritage in exciting ways. For Saunders, this is an exploration of black masculinity, while Gotesson looks to his childhood growing up in Sweden. Farzaneh, meanwhile, reworks traditional Iranian looks.
Here, we catch up with the three designers to find out more about their SS19 collections, and what’s next for them.
Having only graduated from the Royal College of Art last year, Bianca Saunders made her debut on the LFWM schedule earlier this week. Following on from a lookbook of her graduate collection, and a film created in collaboration with Akinola Davies Jr, the SS19 collection continued her exploration of black masculinity.
Featuring intentionally creased garments, that sometimes hung off the models as if they were caught midway through dressing. “With this collection, I wanted to show a positive kind of confidence in how these clothes move and how they showed or hid a bit of the skin – to bring a bit of femininity or sexiness, but still keep it masculine in a way,” Saunders explains.
For the designer, presenting an alternative idea of what you might you think masculinity in fashion can be – particularly for black men who feel underrepresented – is of the utmost importance. “In fashion, there’s not really a broadened image of masculinity,” she says. “A lot of my friends are very different to the stereotypes so I want to speak to them and create a character who they can relate to.”
In addition to creating this character within her collections, Saunders takes a multi-disciplinary approach – also creating films and other formats. “Continuing the conversation and making sure my work is still as authentic as it was in the beginning” is the main objective for the label, she says. “What drives me the most is my research, as well as opening up important discussions through my work.”
From not so humble beginnings – Frank Ocean wore one of her t-shirts at Lovebox last year – Paria Farzaneh has gone from strength to strength in a short period of time. Back in January, she made her debut at LFWM with a presentation held in an Iranian restaurant. Fastforward to now, and Farzaneh is back with sponsorship from the BFC and a space on the schedule marking her as a definite ‘one to watch’.
Presenting it out of a giant truck, her SS19 collection’s starting point was Iranian new year celebrations, which consist of the seven S’s of Haft-sin’s – symbolic items Iranians layout on a table that promote reflection, nature, health, power etc. This was manifested in the form of technical printed jackets that could be modified with zips – each one hand-printed for “a slight imperfection, making it so unique”, Farzaneh explains.
The designer’s collaboration with Converse continued too, this season bearing the prints the designer has become known for. “Whoever has this garment has a piece of home,” the designer continues. “You didn't go to that country but you have a piece of the culture there with you. To me, that’s really, truly beautiful.”
Looking to the future, and the evolution of her brand, Farzaneh is keen to continue bringing her Iranian heritage to the forefront of her work – to combat negative opinions people may have formed because of the media. “Unfortunately people have this perception of the Middle East that the media put across. It’s hard to understand when you’re not in tune with it, or you don't actually have knowledge of it,” she explains. With people taking interest via her culturally charged clothing, she’s happy. “It's interesting to see that people are finally starting to have a wider perspective.”
As the most established of the trio, you’ll likely recognise Götesson from his residency under Fashion East’s MAN initiative from SS17 to SS18. After taking a break from the runway last season to host a presentation (“detailing and touching the fabric is very much important with my pieces”, he says) the designer yesterday staged his first solo runway show.
Continuing to make a case for his minimal, detail-oriented clothes, the Swedish, London-based designer’s starting point was Jan van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait”, which was sadly closed off when he went to visit it at the National Gallery. “I was thinking about exploring modern types of masculinity and what it means in terms of sexuality,” the designer explained. “I’ve always been on the softer side of things – elegance is a word I like to use.”
Elegance and denim are not words that would often be used together, but the designer’s proportions are all about taking unlikely fabrics and elevating them. There’s fun too, with a tongue-in-cheek approach, as seen in the childlike abs scribbled on to a vest, or actual regality brought via broken plate brooches printed with the Queen, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle. “I'm comfortable with the ideas I’ve established over the seasons but it's more about refining them now,” Götesson continued, and we can’t wait to see how he’ll continue to evolve.