All the looks from Olly Shinder, Johanna Parv, Standing Ground, and special guest ASAI’s collections at the hottest show on the London calendar
Day one of London Fashion Week, and alongside stellar shows from Di Petsa, Ahluwalia, Chopova Lowena, and Moiwalola, there was also the small matter of a massive Fashion East debut to attend to. With Olly Shinder making his sexy debut, Johanna Parv and Standing Ground dropping their swansong, and ASAI making a very special appearance, here’s our round-up of the chaos and magic cooked up in the bowels of Lulu Kennedy and Raphaelle Moore’s red-hot talent incubator.
The big Fashion East debut this season came via Olly Shinder, who joined Lulu Kennedy and Raphaelle Moore’s unconventional family unit for SS24, and getting stuck straight in, the rising designer made a strong start. Turning his back on the tech that was supposed to connect us and has instead left us sitting in a room full of people staring at a glowing rectangular screen instead of actually talking, Shinder looked to his community to inform his first runway offering, and was thinking about what it means to actually be ‘in touch’ in 2023. The designer called on a bunch of his friends to model, and paid tribute to their creativity via a collection made up of sensual – and in many cases, damn sexy – looks that incorporated sportswear, streetwear, and queer-coded accessories. Silky double-layered running shorts, cutaway windbreakers, and little pinafore-like playsuits with utilitarian strap detailing were all key, coming down the catwalk to a tripped-out, afters-appropriate soundtrack curated by Wolfgang Tillmans.
Michael Stewart got super nerdy this season, diving deep into the earth to dig out ancient fossils as his inspiration for SS24. The Standing Ground designer’s finale collection before he emerges out of Fashion East blinking into the light of the big wide world felt truly special – his signature floor-sweeping gowns and deft use of colour comes quietly, but really packs a punch. In palette of black, white, muted stone and opalescent silver shot through with faded neon green and a wildly gorgeous azure blue, Stewart’s creations clung to the curves of their wearer and came detailed with twisted seams and pin-tucks that emulated the rings of a fossil, alluding to the timelessness of the kind of fashion he is turning out. Also seems like Stewart is as obsessed with aliens as the rest of us right now: in his show notes, he pointed to xenomorphic biology as a further influence, with the ‘spines’ of the dresses giving an air of HR Giger’s nightmare-inducing extraterrestrials. The show notes weren’t lying when they said Standing Ground ‘delivers eveningwear of menacing sensuality’.
Estonian designer Johanna Parv was also completing her Fashion East hat trick this season, with her final collection under Kennedy and Moore’s wing further building on the strong codes she’s laid out across her last two outings. For SS24, Parv was still thinking about the woman on the go and kitting her out for everything the city can throw at her – from adaptable dresses that can be hiked up via bungee cords to whip into town on a bike and later released back down for dinner or drinks, to multi-pocketed pull-on anoraks that pack away into nothing in their own integrated pouches, the designer thinks through every detail and every eventuality to turn out practical clothes to help a girl out. With more sheer, lightweight fabrics on show this season – like a dove grey, semi-see-through pencil skirt and matching windbreaker – what is particularly impressive is Parv’s lightness of touch. Her clothing solutions might be functional, but they’re also imbued with a soft, alluring femininity. These are garments for the future, here now thanks to Parv.
SPECIAL GUEST: ASAI
Former Fashion Easter ASAI was back in the fold this season, as designer A Sai Tai took the spot of special guest for SS24 and switched his rough-deal Tuesday slot for one on the opening day of fashion week. This time around, the cult designer dipped back into his Hot Wok archive and fully shredded what he found, turning out big, bouncy, criss-crossing body-stockings embellished with swathes of ribbon-like tendrils which seemed to move autonomously as the models wearing them stomped frantically down the runway. Elsewhere, textural mini going out-out dresses and skimpy lace-up bikini sets in kaleidoscopic hues came matched with high-heeled Y2K-era Timberlands – pure joy on the runway, received by the crowds with whistles and shouts of appreciation as was rightly deserved.