You could not fault the political overtone that has grabbed New York Fashion Week by now (I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t?). White bandanas at Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, Planned Parenthood badges at Adam Selman, even underwear with the slogan “No Ban, No Wall” at Mexican label Lrs – these outward protests have become a defining trademark of the New York fashion calendar, which ended with the Marc Jacobs show earlier today. Even the usually stoic Olsen twins participated in a little protest of their own, stitching a rather discreet “hope” onto the cuffs of their beautiful and grown-up show of perfectly executed outerwear and wardrobe staples.
While divisive politics might have been the new normal of American fashion of late, there’s a more upbeat prospect with London Fashion Week happening next. Because it’s traditionally the more vibrant, the more optimistic and the more left-field – in terms of its eccentricities and designs among the four Fashion Week cities.
The diversity of nationalities of designers there also brings forth a sort of dynamism not seen at the other cities. But then again – Brexit. Immigration. Shoot. Anything could happen. Nonetheless, here are the shows which I am looking forward to for their brazen style and experimental attitude which we so need in this current climate:
#1: Paula Knorr
Who: The Frankfurt-born Paula Knorr cut her teeth working as a freelance designer for the studio of Peter Pilotto after graduating from the Royal College of Art. She debuted her namesake label’s Spring Summer ’16 collection with an aesthetic that blends stage-worthy outfits (cue plenty of lame, acrylic and shine) with a sense or romanticism and art.
The X-Factor: If having Bjork as one of your fans as an emerging designer is not enough to make her one name to watch, then consider how London’s fashion fraternity – the British Fashion Council – granted her funding for her label, the same way it supported hot young labels like Ryan Lo and Molly Goddard. But what makes her brand a standout is her deft and visceral use of prints. Knorr, who hails from a family of artists, explores the idea of self-exploration for Spring Summer ’17, resulting in digital prints of her self-portraits on tailored staples like blazers and shirts.
#2: Faustine Steinmetz
Who: The French-born Faustine Steinmetz has become the go-to name for avant-garde artisanal denim that are big on being environmentally sustainable. Her work includes hand-loomed and hand-dyed textiles and jeans fashioned out of recycled denim and polyester.
The X-Factor: Her out-of-the-box presentations. Befitting of the artistic licence of her designs, Steinmetz’s intimate showings saw models dipped in 60,000 indigo-tinged Swarovski crystals for her S/S ’16 collection. Like her approach to denim, her presentations always remind me of art installations.
#3: Richard Malone
Who: The Central Saint Martins alumnus from Ireland who set up his eponymous label in 2014 and went on to become one of the most promising names in fashion, with prestigious awards like LVMH Grand Prix scholarship and the Deutsche Bank Award under his belt.
The X-Factor: Malone is a genius when it comes to playing with shapes and proportions and colours.
#4: Halpern Studio
Who: American designer Michael Halpern, who broke into the fashion scene with his graduate fashion show at Central Saint Martins for Fall Winter ’16. His super flashy (read: party-ready) designs are a hit with critics, and had their breakthrough moment when stylist/street style star Giovanna Engelbert donned one of his designs at the British Fashion Awards in December.
The X-Factor: What if Tom Ford, Peter Dundas and Rosie Assoulin had to design a label? The result would most likely look like something out of a Halpern’s lookbook.
Main image: Faustine Steinmetz
Like this? Check out the emerging fashion designers to put on your radar in 2017, cool under-the-radar brands to shop online and our A-Z guide of the hottest Singapore brands to know.