These are the MA graduates that should be on your radar
Yesterday marked the last day of London Fashion Week Men’s AW19, and with it came the London College of Fashion’s MA graduate show. Having moved to St George’s Church in Bloomsbury this season, the show shone a spotlight on the emerging design talent leaving the school behind and making their way out into the fashion industry.
Concepts behind the Class of 2019’s collections ranged from the back-to-basics sensibilities of Rachel Brown – who sought simplicity with her minimal silhouettes – to the more abstract idea of “psychological distance”, as expressed by English scholar Edward Bullough in 1912 and explored in Jialin Chen’s final offering.
One concept that seemed a common strand throughout all of the designers’ work, though, was a genuine intent to create in a more sustainable way, to provide functional solutions, or to radically challenge the way we live and think.
Here’s our pick of the creatives that you should have your eye on.
Ahmed Sorour’s final collection tapped into his Egyptian roots, confronting class, gender, and perceptions of the country. The inspiration for a range of kitschy, gender-defying garments, Sorour says, “came from Egyptian kitsch aesthetics and trash couture inspired by male belly dancers.” Think attractively garish, clashing prints, chunky golden heels (a collaboration with Egyptian footwear designer Jayda Hany), and gold chains jangling across the face and the occasional crotch, as designed in collaboration with another fellow Egyptian designer, Farah Abdelhamid.
Sorour’s intention was to dispel the ideas pushed by the western media and show there’s more to Egypt than pharaohs and camels: “This collection represents the real Egyptian aesthetic, rather than the outdated westernised images people usually see.” Subtly-placed slits and flowing fabrics, including veils and sleeves based on software-tracked belly dancing movements, lent a coy, sensual vibe to the figure-hugging garments, while many of his molded corsets and bras were crafted using Egyptian plastic bags, so bonus point for sustainability, too.
On the darker side of things, Daoyuan Ding presented a collection that was almost entirely monochrome, with asymmetrical tailoring and wide-brimmed hats all in shades of black, grey, and the occasional brown. The darkness is no surprise though, really, with the designer citing a Freud essay and surrealist artworks as an influence. “It tells the story that there is nothing really defined, represented by The Uncanny, in which the familiar is unfamiliar,” he explained. A dogtooth print in varying sizes pulled the collection together, seen throughout each outfit right down to the matching gloves and ominous shrouds that concealed the models’ faces.
Siyi Long approached her final collection with a pretty adorable concept in mind: “Inspired by the movie Mr. Mom, which tells the story about a businessman becoming a stay-at-home dad, my collection is dedicated to create innovative, functional clothing for fathers to have better lives with their children and be more confident to attend any occasion,” she says.
This functional outerwear came in the form of oversized puffas, colour-blocked coats that wouldn’t look out of place on the XXXL shelf at Regatta (in a good way), and wide leg pants secured with elastic. Underneath though, the tailoring was sharp, with wide-collared jackets and waistcoats presented in muted tones. Monochrome looks with heavy quilted bags and oversized mittens also made an impact, but the star of the show was undoubtedly a (fake) baby in a bright red carrier-cum-puffa-jacket. Cute, functional fatherhood – but make it fashion.
Patent leather, belt buckles, and metal hardware were the stars of Chen Liu’s erotically – and emotionally – charged offering. “The collection You started with remembering and forgetting that we combine memories, life and identity,” the designer explains. With “sexually aggressive elements combined with humour through colour and patent leather”, her pieces had a fetishistic vibe, and were paired with complex jewellery and blocky, space-age footwear. As for colour, the pieces ranged from shades of green to a more unusual brown and yellow combo, to rich blues and reds that could have been lifted from St Georges’ stained glass windows.