Designer Georgina Johnson introduces Laundry Service – a brand she describes as ‘contemporary couture’
The best emerging designers not only have a clear point of view and perspective on fashion, but a real reason for doing what they do; their work is not just interesting, it’s important. Double threat. This is true of born and raised Londoner Georgina Johnson of Laundry Service, a recent graduate of the London College of Fashion and a former intern of Dutch couturiers Vikor & Rolf (who taught her that “no is never an answer”). Johnson has a distinct visual identity coupled with a desire to better represent black women through fashion images.
Defining her aesthetic as “artistic”, Johnson’s designs focus on shape and, she hopes, could just as easily be worn as clothing as displayed on a mannequin as art. Raw but highly considered, it’s a contemporary and slightly undone expression of couture. When asked where this sense of ‘undoneness’ stems from, Johnson says that she’s always had a “weird infatuation” with rust and ruin, which she thinks comes from growing up in an area (Croydon) filled with warehouses.
This collection, titled Yellow Undertones and shot here by emerging photographer Campbell Addy (of Nii Journal and Nii Agency), wasn’t inspired by South East London’s industrial architecture though, but by the work of American post-minimalist Bruce Nauman. “‘Collection of Various Flexible Materials Separated by Layers of Grease with Holes the Size of My Waist and Wrists’ underpinned a lot of my ideas,” says Johnson. “That’s where I started; I took a massive square of foam and made holes for my waist and wrists, wore it, moulded it and interacted with it. My silhouettes came out of that.”
However Johnson isn’t just on a mission to establish a label, she wants to use Laundry Service as a platform to show women of colour in a different light, and to prove that black women like her can flourish in the predominantly white world of fashion. “Black women and women of colour are so often shown in overly-sexualised or fetishised ways. Sure, there is some nudity in my lookbook, but is not overly-sexualised,” she explains. “My nan did say it was porn, though,” she goes on to say with a laugh. “I asked the models not to wear make-up and just be really natural. It’s honest and true.”
Describing the fashion industry as a space that has historically been dominated by white people, she wants to be an example to young black boys and girls who aspire to be designers themselves. “At uni, I was the only black person in my year – out of maybe 120 people,” she remembers. “That’s disgraceful in 2016. I want to show other black girls, who are also the only black people in their years, that they can definitely do this.”
Head to the gallery above to see more pictures of the collection.