On a sunny Saturday in London, three bold face name designers presented contrasting visions of fashion, though unified in their common attempts to explore unexpected silhouettes, made of unlikely raw fabrics and materials.
JW Anderson: Play-Doh in Chalk Farm
“I didn’t know they still made plasticine in Ireland,” smiled Jonathan, whose invitation and opening looks were made in that very material.
The invite was a long rectangular beige bar, not of chocolate but Play-Doh, the garments – clothes that will go on molding onto the body long after being purchased.
Presented inside the Roundhouse, an historic concert venue in Chalk Farm, the Celtic plasticine set the scene for the latest striking collection from the house of JW Anderson.
The Northern Irish designer taking the idea of Play-Doh and using it as maquette, while contemporaneously creating 3D renderings. As a result, the first five looks appeared like modeling clay – biker jackets, hoodies and chunky shorts cut hunched over the body. A new attitude and a toughness made in a spongy structure.
His knits – or as he called them “total knits” -were also something else: summer dresses cut in architectural conical shapes, using knitted sponge inside. Made in fire-engine red and Trypan blue and worn with crochet shoes.
Before upping the ante with padded coated nylon surgeon’s smocks and matching pants made in light turquoise, tobacco and silvery white.
“Redefining a type of wardrobe. I wanted to be focused. Less about silhouettes. More ready-to-wear unravelling in a controlled way,” said Anderson, surrounded by some 50 editors, iPhones in hand to capture every word.
Like his unspooling hipster Grecian goddess dresses in cerulean and khaki that looked like they were artfully falling apart on the circular catwalk.
Before going into overdrive – with nylon flight jackets, so large they became frocks, and cotton hoodies that morphed into crystalline tentacles creating a dress.
“Naivety and how technology can be used artistically and not realistically. A new type of modernity based on experimentation and reduction,” added Anderson, whose musical choice was oddly conventional.
A blend of Skin and Bones by 070 Shake and Danielle (Smile on My Face) by Fred Again, since the designer wanted the mood of “music we have been listening to in the car all summer.”
Roksanda: Beauty amid brutalism
A purist statement of beauty and volume in a tremendous Roksanda show staged inside the Barbican, Britain’s greatest monument to New Brutalism.
The scene set by a soaring operatic performance by soprano Isabelle Peters, attired in a superb lilac plissé cloak dress, her beautiful singing finding the perfect setting amid the towering utopian architecture.
On a sunny Saturday, the cast parading around the giant concrete half-moon courtyard in a marvelous series of Roksanda’s latest dramatic dresses and coats.
Adding to the sense of majesty, several models sported religious conical hats – high priestess chic.
Opening with a bold black undertaker’s coat and following with hyper refined draping and traditional robes.
The designer also juxtaposing her powerful masculine tailoring – seen in sleeveless redingotes and Edwardian top-coats – with ruched and grandly gathered gowns made in crushed plissé silk or textured jacquards.
Before Roksanda began riffing on a trio of monasteries from her youth in the Balkans, playing on their frescoes with golden thread and fil coupé onto printed lamina.
“A personal heritage,” explained the designer, after receiving huge and prolonged applause, one of fashion’s true artists enjoying a triumph, which she gracefully shared with soprano, Peters.
Molly Goddard: Getting in touch with her inner Victorian
A change of address and mood at Molly Goddard, who left the usual gym spaces where she prefers to show and went way upmarket to Christie’s auction house in Mayfair.
For a more dressed-up and ladylike approach albeit soaked in Goddard’s joyful sense of humor. A spring/summer 2024 collection that referenced centuries of British style from Regency grandeur, to 1950s underwear to Victoria bedding.
Half of the looks appeared rather turned inside out, interiors linings used in grand gowns, debutante dresses and ballet tutus.
Her key idea were below the knee skirts finished with rivulets of ruffles and pleated horizontally at the waist, worn ornate piped bras and prim cardigans. While for evening Molly focused on interior construction, finishing the back of many looks with wadded linings or trims, or cotton grosgrain. Deconstructed Dickens.
“This season, I became obsessed with turning everything inside out. Like finishings from handmade vintage garments. I like using simple fabrics and elevating them,” smiled Goddard in the backstage.
Riffing on vintage ball gowns that look simple on the outside but feature layers of tulle and three different rows of hook and eyes inside. All the way to playing on the concept of Victoria christening gowns with babes squished up in their dresses.
“The collection was surprisingly literal,” she conceded.
Goddard always wears sneakers and even her golden court shoes became sporty trainers, or funky platforms.
Why, one wondered did she pick Christie’s for her show?
“It’s an amazing space and history and whenever I have been here and seen them setting up for an exhibition you see masterpieces lying on the floor and that’s amazing. Which is in some ways related to the show,” smiled the obviously pregnant and ebullient Goddard.
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