London Fashion is Autre Fashion - if that makes any sense. Basically, the fashion coming out of London is on-brand with the message that we are trying to set forth at Autre: the contrast of high and low culture, freedom, expression, sexuality, and you know, being fucking weird. It’s been a pleasure to watch these young designers grow into their roles as international arbiters of taste. It’s not hard to imagine JW Anderson’s brand growing into Yves Saint Laurent levels of label endurance while he simultaneously re-brands Loewe into an ultra desirable fashion label. Simone Rocha is bringing a romance back to fancy clothing that has been missing for some time. KTZ is still killing it. Burberry puts on a very fun show for a juggernaut mega money brand. And the best part is, there is always a new crop of Central Saint Martin’s graduates looking to enter the fashion system and re-shape it in their visions.
So, yeah we love London. Obviously we get excited about Paris, too, but there is such a youthful vitality going on in London fashion at the moment made all the more exciting by its defiance of the city’s astronomical living rates and housing costs. These designers express their creativity in any way they can or they starve trying. Literally. So, I (Adam Lehrer, fashion editor at Autre Magazine) teamed up with new fashion correspondent Julianna Vezzetti to discuss the SS 2016 London collections.
I dress pretty minimally. I like tight jeans, big shirts/t-shirts/knits, boots or sneakers, and a cool coat. It’s easy, and it’s a look that I’ve committed to. It makes me feel good. Imagine then the esteem that I have for Christopher Kane as a designer that he makes me want to change my whole thing up and maximize my shit. He makes intricate patterns and colorful prints feel very effortless, and yes, luxurious.
Kane is the type of designer who is able to hold together ideas in continuity in both his men’s and women’s collections while keeping his menswear masculine and his womenswear feminine. The colorful near-painted on looking graphics could be the visual representation of walking on cloud 9, and Kane looks as confident in his concepts as he ever has, maybe more so. The show introduced some classy uses of bumblebee yellow, such as a dress underneath an over-sized grungy cardigan (boyfriend cardigan to be sure), before introducing some black and white monochrome looks, and then he manages to brilliantly fuse the yellow with the black. So many of Kane’s choices feel like they should be tacky, but they always look great.
There is so much innovative and genius fashion coming out of London right now. Even the biggest and most publicized young designers (JW Anderson, Marques Almeida, Simone Rocha) feel firmly anti-establishment in a way. That might be why a truly underground designer like Claire Barrow might not be getting the write-ups that she deserves. Her SS 2016 collection felt like a maturation of her palette.
Barrow is one of the few designers who also might not take issue with being described as an artist. She has gained fame for her dark and striking illustrations emblazoned onto beautifully made leathers and dresses. SS 2016 had illustrations in spades, but the clothes that they are printed on have grown more elevated. There are printed skin-tight leather dresses, jacquard power suits, shredded white knits, etc.. I think what is great about the prints is that they don’t look immediately “fashion,” they look very authentic. I think Barrow’s design philosophy is as fresh as anyone’s. She’s also unapologetically political, which I appreciate. SHOWstudio agrees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha_em0YFx54
I’ve been finding designer Marjan Pejoski’s KTZ collections pretty dull for some time. His trek to New York for the FW 2015 collection possibly led to him re-grouping, because the KTZ SS 2016 collection, while not terribly original, is everything that people dig about KTZ. Pejoski, as always, references the club cultures that he loves, but there is some seriously apocalyptic urban warrior vibes here too. Maybe this is a bit of a hackneyed observation, but I can’t help but think that Pejoski was really really into Mad Max: Fury Road (that film is easily the fashion moment of 2015). Part of the collection feels like the warriors were left on Earth to fend for themselves: beige colored trenches and military-inspired tops with these sort of futuristic kneepad shoes. The other part of the collection looks like the haute people who were able to secure a spot on the space ship: mega expensive black leathers and linen with cyberpunk styling. Another film reference that comes to mind is Snowpiercer, where the rich live on the opulent front of the train and the poor are forced to starve in the back of the train. Sorry, I’m writing this late. Bear with me.
MM6 Maison Margiela
Every part of me wants to hate what John Galliano is doing at Margiela. Margiela is one of those brands that is hard to accept now that it is no longer designed by its namesake. It’s the same with something like Raf Simons. Who the fuck could design Raf Simons other than Raf Simons? But Galliano’s penchant towards extremism in couture has proved not only right for the house, but also has taken Margiela towards its future.
That injection of vitality that Galliano brought to Maison Margiela couture is perhaps even more on display in the brand’s offshoot, MM6 Maison Margiela. Showing both men’s and women’s looks, Galliano elevated gender-bending street looks to the umpteenth degree and did so with his ever-present sly sense of humor. Who else would send his first model down the runway in a baggy lime green t-shirt, arm-length silver gloves, with a bra over the t-shirt? Not many, and Galliano makes this stuff look good. The red, thigh-high socks were absolutely decadent, and the space dresses and coats were detailed just so.
It’s interesting that Galliano has actually adhered to the Margiela ethos, remaining relatively quiet in his public persona. Of course this could be a PR strategy so that he doesn’t say something disgusting again, but it is very exciting to see him take on this house and touch it up in his own image. It shows humbling. Martin might be nodding in approval at this one. Great show.
There are few garments more satisfying to wear than a pair of denim pants with tastefully applied knee slits. Thomas Tait appears to agree in his SS 2016 collection, which debuted some fantastic new jeans with the knees removed and replaced with a see-through grid structure of sorts. Details like these are what make Tait fun to watch. His clothes seem kind of boring at first, but as the models make their way down the runway your eyes find themselves glued to myriad design flourishes.
Tait won the first LVMH prize last year and had his brand injected with a cool $300,000 euros in capital. That capital looks like it’s paying off: the clothes in Thomas Tait SS 2016 look quality. The looks in the show define a powerful woman that will be noticed. Though the style of the clothing could be defined as masculine, these clothes aren’t at all masculine. They radiate a tough femininity, such as the elongated printed knit over a white shirt and orange and black trousers. However, Tait’s SS 2016 collection is not for women who demand attention, but rather for women who command presence. Tait is minimal only when he’s not.
J.W. Anderson took the viewer to another planet of dream-like ambiguity. He playfully used lines and textures to convey an alternate universe. This female odyssey shined light on the right areas of the body to express. Using expressive lines to contour the neck and collarbone, the knotted ties on the ankles created a seal of design. This woman jumps from galaxy to galaxy while making a statement with Keith Harring-esque prints and linear lines. J.W. has the ability to create living illustrations with emphasis on modular inspiration.
Mary Katrantzou has the ability to dance between everyday beauty and nighttime glamour. Her products can be intimidating visually but are balanced by lightweight mobility. She opens up dialog about construction and the layers of content we use to articulate ourselves. The volume is seen in the tooled Spanish ruffles, ribbed sweaters, and quilted sweater dress paired with a snakeskin ankle boot to create an ensemble defined by context. The sequined pieces are subdued but casually tactful. The Kantranzou girl is beautiful but approachable. The enchantment between the client and the designer is an integral one that you observe in Mary’s work and the presentation.
What’s black and white and red all over? Gareth Pugh’s SS 2016 presentation took eccentric glamour to task. The combination of fish scale sequins and leather corset dresses mark this collection as something of performance via dressing. These garments present a stage for you to make every moment monumental. The tone was set with the Leigh Bowery-esque masks with makeup design akin to the classic ‘80s film Liquid Sky. The swooping collars were accented by luxurious Himalayan sheepskin. Pay attention to the high necklines contrasting with deep necklines standing in as metaphor for the range of radical desire. There are secrets in this collection, but Gareth’s message is loud and right there for the interpreting. It’s a glamour circus and anyone fabulous enough is invited if one woman can perform her best sideshow.
Uniformly speaking, Joseph has a way of creating a lasting impression without overtly yelling it out. The subtle tones of yellows, creams and whites allow the viewers to comfortably envision themselves in the clothes. The elongated silhouettes direct the eye to the right frame of focus: the subject. The knotting of the skirts and shirts create a point of reference and texture. The artful stripes feel very on-trend. The finely tailored dress shirts are minimalist with a direct agenda: everyday to evening. The subtle metallic colors communicate that this Joseph woman is mysterious and aware of herself. Smart accessories like white paper bag-like clutches and vinyl-wrapped belts speak to this woman being able to go from the office to the dojo and battle anything that comes into her protected sphere.
What a dream it would be to live in the world of Simone Rocha. Something like a Sci-Fi version of Alice in Wonderland. The clothing is ethereal and whimsical as if the Rocha girl is restrained in an alternate universe and all she has to ponder is freedom. The cross-body roping and textural accessories offer weight to this point. The fantasy of glitter tights and candy-coated strappy heels bring imagination to the Rocha girl. She has a casualty to her; the layering of dresses on top of pants allow her to be multi-faceted and dimensional. The billowing sleeves and skirts create a volume of intent and dexterity of the manufacturing. The earthly tones and playful floral patterns extenuate the aspiration for freedom. Truly a dream within a dream.
Text by Adam Lehrer and Julianna Vezzetti. Follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE