Nasir Mazhar, Heikki Salonen and Michael van der Ham showed their strengths in the Somerset House vaults.
It's always been the case that you're not sure what you're going to get at Fashion East, which makes the trio of designers showing together, all the more exciting to see. This time round, we had inklings but still, the surprise was yet to come when Nasir Mazhar's rudeboys and rudegirls came strutting out in his statement-making headgear that took 'ghetto' ideas, made with a high level of craftsmanship. When paired with plenty of House of Harlot latex, it was a slick and dramatic affair. Second timer Heikki Salonen continued his exploration of an urban uniform for the girl that is now growing up a little or at least, struggling to. Staples like bomber jackets and destroyed jeans were mingling with simply and severely cut dresses. Finally, Michael van der Ham whose garment collaging/patchwork signature continued, albeit in a softer mood that saw him collaborating with Liberty Art Fabrics for a smattering of florals mixed with flowing chiffon as well as the introduction of knitwear.
Dazed Digital: Can you tell us what you were exploring?
Nasir Mazhar: Jamaican dancehall queens, rudeboys, rudegirls, gangauo girls, Norwegian black metal.
DD: I saw some Marie Antoinette references in the first curled wig.
Nasir Mazhar: That's my favourite piece. They're just hairstyles though. Those are actually belt kiss curls. When you sculpt something like that with the craftsmanship in it, it's not ghetto anymore really and it's not just some girl slicking it back.
DD: How do you feel about showing your designs as an accessories/millinery designer doing a catwalk show as part of Fashion East?
Nasir Mazhar: I didn't know what to think at first because I was thinking "Is this right?" because sometimes there's a chicken head on a rude boy you know and it's like, how do you make that work on a runway. In an installation, it works because there's these separate characters. On a runway, it's already formulated. It did work really well though because we had a really great team and we just made it work.
Dazed Digital: How has it evolved from the last collection because it is very much a urban uniform?
Heikki Salonen: It was quite teenage angst last time in a summery way. So this time, we wanted to go a bit sinister, and the same girl is stepping into an adult world a little bit too early. It was sort of loosely based on the film Leon where this little girl is thrown into this sinister asinine world. That's what we wanted to achieve, that there's still this innocent girly things but there's this cryptic, weird adult world against her.
DD: How did you handle that juxtaposition between girl and woman in the clothes?
Heikki Salonen: We wanted to go as utilitarian as possible. All the dressier pieces had a utilitarian feel. The griller pieces always had both worlds crossing and mixing in-between?
DD: I saw some diagrams/mathematical looking prints in the fabric collaging.
Heikki Salonen: It's about growing up into a woman and nobody as a child has it figured out. So she's so messed it up and she's figuring out the rules. So there's Fibonacci here to help her figure it out!
Dazed Digital: So how did the collaboration with Liberty come about?
Michael van deer Ham: I knew that from the beginning I wanted to do something, and I had never used print or pattern that much. I thought this time I wanted to go for full on patterns and more layers. I'm stocked in Liberty so we got together and they supplied me with some fabrics and I went to the Liberty Art Fabrics and I picked my favourite ones. I was trying to clash them and do things in different ways.
DD: You also used knitwear this time too?
Michael van deer Ham: At first I put different jumpers together but it was quite boring so then I did these sheer and knitted dresses together and thought that was quite fresh.
DD: It's quite soft for an autumn winter collection.
Michael van deer Ham: I know but that's why I wanted to do something quite floral and unexpected. Together with the make-up and hair, it was meant to look a little funny and a bit weird, so that was the mood.
Photography by Alex Sainsbury
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