#SuzyLFW: Beating Brexit
Like a show of defiance to the current political climate, London Fashion Week has never looked more international on the runway.
With designers under the Fashion East banner coming from different countries and models more diverse than in New York shows, it seems like British fashion is saying ‘no’ to Brexit.
And no wonder. For the arsenal of London’s style comes from the multi-ethnic students trained at the city’s fashion schools.
Yet a new spirit of adventure and energy is also seen in English designers like Richard Quinn, who graduated from Central Saint Martins last year and was picked up by Liberty for his exceptional skills with print. The historic London store gave the designer space surrounded by lengths of Liberty prints. But on the runway, the flowered patterns were given a stronger vibe.
“Everything was printed, made and pattern cut in my studio in Peckham,” Quinn said. “I actually took and reworked a floral from Liberty for my final collection and I have very unassuming prints from the archive that I have blown up in acid colours and different textiles. I hope they will be springing modern ideas into the store and bringing a different audience.”
It would require a bold customer to take the collection as shown – especially the gimp facial covers using patterns inspired by 1960s upholstery from Paul Harris. The show looked like it was put together by a student – yet at the same time it was filled with the fashion energy so particular to London.
The multi-ethnic character of the UK may fade after Brexit, but right now it shines. Fashion East’s Supriya Lele, a Royal College of Art graduate, described her work as “a personal dialogue between her Indian and British cultural identity” and also “subverting established notions of Indian fabrications through unconventional materials rendered luxurious”.
Translated into fashion, that meant plastic fantastic with blobs of translucent colour or vivid shades wrapped as a semi-transparent skirt.
Sai Ta was head-hunted by Kanye West to work on the multi-tasking rapper’s Yeezy fashion line. Trained at St Martins, the designer launched his own brand Asai last season and defines his style as “exploring nuances of a British, Chinese and Vietnamese cultural heritage”. Read: sporty and stylish incorporating puffer jackets, stretch shorts and a play on handbags – and dramatic thigh high boots painted with purple dragons.
Matty Bovan, another Central Saint Martins alumnus and winner of the LVMH Graduate Prize in 2015, made imaginative knitwear. A mix and meld of colour and texture with eye popping patterns showed how bold and dynamic are the designers who have come through a college system that encourages freedom of expression.
Significantly, the London shows are pulling in a much larger number of international buyers, especially from America. Maybe fashion will benefit from the promises of the pro-Brexit campaigners and current supporters who claim that leaving the EU will enhance trade from elsewhere. As well as recognising Britain’s distinct fashion offering, buyers from abroad may be drawn by the drop in the British pound since the referendum, although the reckoning on this last week showed the pound moving up on rumours of rising interest rates.