London is the fashion capital best known for its young, ambitiously creative designers. Something about the air here has given us a roster of talents who have shaped the fashion landscape in their own image, but they were all students once too – plucked fresh from their graduate collections and nurtured into the powerhouses they are now. Last night, the London College of Fashion MA class of 2017 put on their own show, and we’ve made our predictions on who you’ll be seeing a lot more of.
Bright, vibrant graphic animal prints reimagined in bold neon hues, Katrina Wilson’s graduate collection was a fresh reimagination of the spirit of African tribes captured by the photographers she used as a starting point. At times skin-tight and other times twisted into drapes along the body, Wilson’s patterns reflected both the functionality and love of ceremony she saw in those images, evoking traditional body painting and draping.
For textural play this season, Gergei Erdei shone through, in a collection that started from a fascination with Victorian shell works – small artworks under a bell jar – and sailors valentines, created for their lovers to keep while they were away. Through embroidery and 3D additions, Erdei translated these miniature sculptures onto fabric and simultaneously explored ideas of love, devotion and personal armour. Meticulously hand-crafted, Erdei’s work is a labour of love in itself.
Lorenzo Buzzi’s muse is his grandmother – but don’t let that make you think his clothes are anything traditional. Titled, ‘The Story of Vanda’, Buzzi’s narrative was all about the empowerment of ‘Vanda’, a mid 20th-century Palm Springs housewife, and liberating her from the dominant ad man narrative of her traditional role as a woman. He does so through tapestry-like prints sculpted into exaggerated and unconventional shapes, worn with kitsch cat-eye glasses – designs that have been grandma approved, if you were wondering. “She does a lot of modelling for my garments,” he says.
Called ‘Mind Bending’, Siyang Meng’s offering was the kind of avant-gardism you’d expect from a fan of Comme Des Garçons. “I wanted my collection to feel very futuristic,” Meng says, but her starting point was somewhere closer to the present, in a relatively obscure photo series called ‘Two Girls in the Garden’. Drawn by how relaxed the girls looked in these candid photos taken by their mothers, Meng’s vision of the future was more about this idea of “another space for people to imagine different things,” than the obvious hard-edged, chrome-heavy aesthetic we usually associate with futuristic fashion. Instead, Meng’s vision of the future was all glossy textures softened as nudes and blush pinks, sculpted on the body which sometimes peeked out through cutouts.
Ah, the tube. Place of packed morning commutes and sometimes having to sit next to a man that smells like piss – hardly a source of inspiration really. Or is it? Yuqing Lai seems to think so, managing to design an entire collection around the London transport system, and even naming it by its unofficial tagline: ‘Mind the Gap.’ These weren’t your average logoed London underground tourist pieces though – instead, Lai wanted to explore specifically the women of the underground, “giving them an identity within their uniforms.” Fluoro jackets became bright yellow tailored pieces, rucksacks and side bags with a utilitarian hardware, toned down with neutrals in places – outfits that imagined the post-work lives of those morning commuters, “something they’d wear to bars or clubs that show you who they really are.”