LFW Digital: Finally some actual, new clothes
Just when one thought that you’d expire from the lack of any actually new fashion in London Fashion Week’s debut digital only season, along came Tiscar Espadas, Xander Zhou and Ka Wa Key on Saturday with some genuinely new clothes and ideas.
It’s a season devoid of actual live shows in London, where most events on the three-day schedule were pre-recorded videos in what the British Fashion Council has defined as a “gender-neutral platform.” The stand-out video on Saturday was Capitulo II, first act by Tiscar Espadas, whose deconstructed sporty tailoring had oodles of attitude. Marvelously ballooning fatigue pants that nipped at the ankle; fab funnel neck parkas; matador trousers with high waists and side pockets and Velasquez worthy shirts with elongated Jesuit sleeves – all presented to the sounds of classical acoustic guitar and flamenco music. A Spanish-born graduate of the Royal College of Art, who was awarded a Burberry Scholarship, Tiscar is definitely a name to watch. This collection, her debut, had tremendous technical flourish and complex construction.
London this weekend is the first major season to be held in the pandemic – and its young talent is being closely watched by major fashion houses looking for inventive new ways to showcase their own collections digitally in Milan and Paris in July.
One of the cleverest videos by far came from Xander Zhou, who presented a Spring/ Summer 2021 in a spacey video, an almost robotic cast and showroom, with Kraftwerk-style soundtrack. Texts giving fabric blends, colors and construction details; and a commentary from a boffin-like voice, speaking in English and Chinese, added to the deadpan humor. Superhero padded shorts with an ergonomic twist, brilliant color-blocking tops and pixelated print blousons all underlined the powerful futurist vision of Xander Zhou,
Xu Zhi, by fonder designer Xuzhi Chen (a previous LVMH Prize finalist) unspooled a great video shot in a decayed underground passage, city street and several elevators that looked very modern and majestic. However, this was not a new collection from the designer.
Inspired by the Little Prince, Ka Wa Key mashed up archive pieces and Day-Glo knits into some new party fashion. Using a green screen and obviously limited resources, and working from his home in London during the Covid-19 lockdown, the result was a wacky mix of silent movie lettering; early MTV color and knitted yetis.
The evening before Marques'Almeida, Robyn Lynch and Daniel Fletcher also unveiled actual new clothes and ideas.
Lynch produced a strong, snappy and athletic capsule collection through a heartfelt video. This one-off capsule was supported by Rapha with a homemade film documenting the making of the collection. Lynch also unveiled a video look-book made in collaboration with artist Joe Cruz and styled by Ben Schofield. All told, seven stylish Anglo athleisure looks, with lots of bold cutting; intriguing fabric mixes of Aran sweater cable; hard orange nylon and cable wool, made into natty cycle shorts, racing shirts or dandy tops with heat-seal trims. One of those clever London moments, where energy and imagination more than make up for a lack of financing.
“As the world began to hault (sic) I began to film and document the weeks to come as well as reflect on the past. I wanted to challenge myself to see what I could make from the fabrics that I had to hand, with the accumulation from past seasons, all whilst within the confined space of my home studio,” explained Lynch, whose video showed her team beavering away in cramped workspace amid fabric swatches and sketches; along with clips of old black and white images of the Tour de France and kids cycling in Dublin.
One also discovered a whole new line from Marques’Almeida. Named brand ReM'Ade by Marques'Almeida, it emerged when the design duo discovered how much unused stock and fabrics they had in a factory in Portugal. Amalgamating all of it together in London, just before the pandemic hit, they were able to create this novel collection – new and classic M’A designs, made exclusively with deadstock and recycled materials.
Shot mainly in Portuguese with subtitles, the actual video begins and ends with images of the designers’ son playing on a rocky beach. The documentary film was created by Agency for the Reality of Things. The collection captures what makes the duo so unique: bravura cutting, unexpected fabric combinations with denim and an ability to blend street style with historical references.
The University of Westminster also unveiled their 2020 menswear graduates in an art-rock video, with impressive displays by San Kim, Catherine Hudson, The Rune, Haylee Wong and Halina Edwards.
It was also a season of multiple talking heads, like Hussein Chalayan insisting that “I want to do less, but do it more deeply.” And Instagram debates – like Daniel Fletcher in conversation with Miss Vogue editor Naomi Alexandra Pike – a chat that garnered over 16,000 views on Instagram. Fletcher actually unveiled a fall winter 2020 collection, turning classics on their heads – jockey shirts in white with multiple mini metal horse medallions; parkas with toggles and piping; great denim jackets with painted trim. Clever, gender-free clothes that looked fun and very flattering.
However, far too many videos referenced past work, albeit with a certain amount of charm. Like the video that opened Saturday morning, where Farfetch China staffers interviewed UK-based talents like Erdem, Charles Jeffry and Roksanda – mainly about collections they showed in February. Except for Jeffrey, who had fresh news on London clubs. For the record, his current favorite is Inferno inside the ICA.
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