Alternative Fashion Week Day 1
Beatrice Korlekie Newman
Beatrice Korlekie Newman
From cupcakes and curtseys, through the cosmos, to the downright kinky, Emma McCarthy reports from Day 1 of Alternative Fashion Week.
The New 1950’s
City & Islington College opened the first of five Alternative Fashion Week shows with an apron string’s guide to all things cute and kitsch, in a nostalgic reinterpretation of the 1950’s housewife and the very best of her kitchen attire. From the sugary shades of strawberry pink, butter yellow and cornflower blue, through to the Alice in Wonderland-esque reds and creams, the collection is brimming with candy cane stripes, girlie gingham and delicate lace appliqué. From the bow topped heads to pom-pomed feet, the charm is in the details: each design has been crafted with originality and style, including a dish-cloth ruffle skirt and an apron embellished with ladles. With all its polka-dotty and froufrou deliciousness, you could almost smell the taste the Victoria sponge...
Another competitor in the retro glamour stakes is Chantal Gibbs-Jones, with her cupcake creations. The capsule collection featured everything from bags and coats, to pinafore dresses, high-waisted shorts, corsets and full skirts. As her ringletted and red-lipped models bobbed out in a perfect Stepford Wives' formation, Chantal’s ready-to-wear collection is cohesive and beautifully executed. My personal favourites here are an adorable baby blue playsuit, and a gorgeous white silk shirt with high-cut shorts, with cheeky side frills, bowed neckline and a keyhole back.
Further down the spectrum of kitsch comes Chloe Haywood’s ingenious millinery contributions whch provided us with an outpouring of fascinators, berets and hairpieces. Featuring pastimes and playthings beloved of any 80’s child, her designs utilise Lego blocks, Monopoly money, Slinky’s, pin wheels and bouncy balls. Colourful and unconventional, the Alternative Fashion Week catwalk was the perfect showcase for Chloe’s playful creations.
The Futuristic Female
Heidi Wikar offers style and substance in her thought-provoking collection, entitled ‘Singing Silence’. Heidi considers the environmental changes evidenced in the melting white landscape of her Scandinavian birthplace, which she considers to be the 'New Winter'. Forging inspiration out of an evaporating terrain and an unstable climate, Heidi has used alternative methods of fabric manipulation to create visually stunning designs relying on movement, volume and texture, from inflated pockets of air to clumps of downy insulation. She states that her “design challenge was to craft functional, dynamic clothing that could be easily adjusted and lightweight enough so that the whole collection can be packed into one 20 kg rucksack, however still remain feminine and glamorous.” Space efficient and stylish? Londoners take note!
Olga Shishkina explores the futuristic and the feminine in her collection, she uses form to mimic the fluidity of the human body. The smooth lines and curves flattered her models in transparent shades of green, blue and red and silvery soft metallics.
Sini Moilanen takes on the cosmos with her knitting needles, in a collection which depicts the world’s first organisms. With steely greys and vibrant purples as her colour palette, her prints feature the pocked and cratered landscape of a planet’s surface and the dreamy other-worldly quality of star constellations, juxtaposed with the thick wools that she uses to create either whole pieces or knitted embellishments.
Exoticism and Eroticism
Laura Theiss also plays with convention by taking inspiration from the traditional Japanese Samurai warrior and creating statement pieces for the modern woman. The end result? A riot of colour, strong prints and even stronger attitude. Huge, Afro-style headpieces, thick, chunky necklaces and technicoloured fringing. A favourite of mine is the highly wearable printed tapered trousers, featured on a couple of the models. Laura’s veritable colour wheel and Japanese theme was finished off with a top knot and a flush of hot pink on the temples.
There are tastes of the Middle East on Brick Lane in Beatrice Korlekie Newman’s collection, expressing all the richness and opulence of Bazaar Boutiques and Arabian nights. The combination of fine crocheted leggings, meshy dresses and woven knee-high boots with intricate embroidery and beadwork, and in antique gold and cream with jet black, makes for a clash of light vs heavy, of bright vs dark, and flashed just enough flesh to remain understatedly sexy.
The East London Offerings
Anna Wilkinson heralds a new wave of dusty, fusty, Librarian chic, with her English Eccentric knitwear collection. Awash with mustard yellows, forest green and every shade of brown available, Anna created a new-vintage collection, a style that East London has come to pride itself on; clashing prints, textures and fabrics together with knitted socks and brogues. A little piece of kitsch that caught my eye in particular, is a shrunken hooded jumper over a lemon yellow dress, like a little knitted cape. I would consider it a gem of a find in any vintage store.
Two firm favourites in today’s catwalk came back- to-back in the running order, and managed to get all of our tired East London, seen-it-all-before souls riled up. Richard Evans-Lacey offered up the only menswear collection of the day, with his procession of “London Kilts, for the Man about Town”, as his opening two-some were marched out by a female militant with only boxer shorts and army berets on, and ordered to dress (boxer shorts off, naturally). Their camouflage ensembles were then followed by kilts for the office, in thick, grey fabric, ties and briefcases, sporty numbers, emblazoned with the Union Jack, summer, floral affairs, a leopard print number, and, not forgetting, the S&M duo, with bondage chains, whips and handcuffs.
This was aptly followed by Lady Lucie’s latex outfits. The figure-hugging 8-piece collection of body cons, catsuits and nipple tassels is delightfully tongue-in-cheek, and flawlessly executed and shown with 8 inch heels and bucket loads of sass. Lucie says her collection is inspired by a “background working in circus and theatre”, and by the “clubbing scene in London”. Lady Lucie considers it her duty to rework Latex off the bodies of Dominatrix’s and S&M parlours and into mainstream fashion. Currently working on her first menswear collection, watch this space for her at AFW ‘11!
Photos: Emma McCarthy