Monday, 20 April 2009

MAW @London's Alternative Fashion Week Day 1

Just dashed back from Day 1 of London's Alternative Fashion Week and time to share a few of my picks of the first dozen or show designers to take up the ramp duties...

Overall I thought the quality was mixed. What excited me most were the cuts and silhouettes of a few designers' work. But even then, often the quality of fabrics and finish of the samples was fairly basic. I think it's fair to say that the AFW prides itself on offering a platform to designers who consciously don't follow fashion trends. But the schizophrenic magnet of fashion has a habit of pulling even as it pushes and many of the designers did reflect current trends to some degree.

Before the show began I was drawn to the work of a couple of current students from City and Islington College. Anyone who's ever had a tight creative brief dictated from above will appreciate how difficult it is to tap into one's creative juices under such artificial imposed circumstances so I was pleased to see the results that the Russian Tsars theme had produced (see top photo). Lianne Latouche's winged shoulder blouse looked regal, androgynous and sexy all at once. Eva Pospisilova's courtly panelled jacket walked a similar tightrope of restrained sex appeal helped by being beautifully modelled by Evie. The fabrics and finishing on these student designs was better than many of the more established designers.

Coming towards the end of the schedule, Hannah's Kille's country gents womenswear hit me like a fresh shot of robusta to waken me from my slightly jaded stupor. Inspired by some photos she discovered of the turn-of-the-century lesbian author Radcliffe Hall decked out in gent's garb, the mature collection mixed traditional men's tailoring with liberty print harem pants and one of my current fave trouser cuts: plus fours. There was plenty of contrasting loose and body-con cuts within outfits, with the tight lines across bust and hips giving a very sexy feminine take on the overall gent look. The slouchy styling and sassy attitude of the models worked the gender/soft and hard play to the max and cool Edinburgh model Eunice (in the liberty print harem pants blow) was a particularly good choice.

If I was impressed during the show, my membership to the Hannah Kille fan club was confirmed when I caught up with her afterwards and she told me that this was in fact her Birmingham City University degree show and is over a year old already. She was working on it before Dolce and Gabbana's recent Queen look and I can only imagine how fresh it would have looked back then. So, top marks to Ms Kille for last year's production, a little slap on the wrist for not giving us something new... and lets hope her current time in Paris spawns more original looks.

Gemma Garnham and Lenka Padysakova do the balloon shoulder thang

In terms of trends, the balloon shoulder with cut at the elbow to give a tight forearm was a bit of a common theme. This look was shown best by Gemma Garnham's black lace numbers and Lenka Padysakova, though I reckon Lenka saved her best design for her own outfit which I snapped below. She explained the popularity of this sleeve design by comparing it to the jodhpurs we've all been loving since Nicholas Guesquiere reminded us how cool they could look for Balenciaga all those seasons ago (AW 07/08).

A few more highlights...

Fuller-figured ladies get slappy-happy in Robert Miller's designs

I loved the textured bronze fabric New York based Cassie Kogler used for these leggings

Aaron Ray Dowie's shows us the shape of things to come with his cropped double breasted jacket

Better photos tomorrow...perhaps...

Today's list in full:

City & Islington College
Gemma Garnham
Manjit Sangha
Jayant Kumar
Robert Miller
Laura Booty
Aaron Ray Dowie
Lenka Padyasakova
Cassie Kogler
Hannah Kille
Tim Rhys-Evans
Kensignton and Chelsea College
Chantal Gibbs-Jones


  1. Lovin the street Gent style of Hanah Kille's womens wear and those scaly bronze leggings - want some!

  2. Some great shows over the week, Loved Aaron Ray Dowie's collection really sharp tailoring so often over looked at these events. Also Najlaa Jabri on the wednesday she made some great coats.

  3. Robert Miller's latex wear was divine!

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  5. Brilliant clothing.. very different