Every editor, buyer or critic in London showed for Fashion East on this weekend, as well they should given its organizer Lulu Kennedy’s legendary antenna for new talent.
Staged inside Yeomanry House, this edition featured four young hopefuls: Olly Shinder, Standing Ground by Michael Stewart, Johanna Parv, and Asai by A Sai Ta.
Standing Ground: Bio-morphic draping
Standing Ground, by Irish-born Stewart garnered the loudest applause after a great expression of clever and cerebral draping. Made in mono-color of light, fluid jersey, the collection was all about skillful sculpting, impeccable ruching and intense beadwork.
Stewart’s inspiration and the name of the collection was “vast temporalities” of Tethys, a prehistoric ocean that later formed the basis the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Sea.
The result was a series of gently biomorphic shapes and forms, undulating screen goddess dresses; purist modernist couture and a collection that would be welcomed with open arms in Paris.
Johanna Parv: Polished performance gear
Johanna Parv, an Estonian designer living in London, must be the greatest boon to fashionable cycling ever.
Her collection is all based on technical fabrics, and pretty well every look suggested a woman dismounting elegantly from a bike and looking coolly dressed for her next event – whether office, cocktail or tryst.
Pretty much every look included cycling shorts and knee-length leggings, all accompanied by windcheaters, parkas, and some great padded gilets and tops. Her sense of what is flattering when wearing sheer or semi-sheer was impeccable as was her clever use of darts, hems and stitching.
The kind of cool multi-functional performance gear one always searches for in brands like Adidas or Nike, but rarely finds. Parv’s polished performance chic marks her out as a designer with a bright future.
Olly Shinder: Lederhosen in London
A fledgling hipster marque hailing from a recent Central St Martin’s graduate, Olly Shinder opened this season’s Fashion East with a deft deconstruction of classic masculine codes.
Gingham shirts that shone; shorts studded like Lederhosen; taut tops slit open to reveal pecs; deep gorge gilets the better to display his whirlpool logo.
Multiple men in shorts with metallic harnesses, body chains and straps.
Inspired by London’s “fashion establishment, art institutions and queer night spaces,” this was a subtle subversion of male dressing by a truly original designer.
Asai: Shaggy designer story
No one could fault designer A Sai Ta, for lacking fashion chutzpah. He favors fantasy colors – from orange sherbet to psychedelic violet. And barely there dresses that make major statements.
His skimpy crocheted dresses are ideal clothes if you are a rock star on a global tour. No wonder pop stars like Rihanna, Teyana Taylor and Dev Hynes have donned Asai. These are clothes that project great distances.
AN-Y1: Haute-sport chic
One novel haute-sport chic new marque that seems to have real potential is AN-Y1.
Pronounced ‘Anyone’, AN-Y1 is part of the extended Gulf Oil umbrella and aimed at deep-pocketed Formula One fans and followers.
Launched in 2021 at the Monaco Grand Prix, the brand immediately found an insider following with its snug and snazzy unisex leather biker jackets, featuring tags and Gulf Oil colors of eggshell blue and soft orange.
For ladies, there are also silk twill jump suits and shorts, while men began picking up the cotton boiler suits.
The brainchild of Anu Hinduja, wife of Gulf Oil chairman Sanjay, and her sister Nandita Mahtani, AN-Y1 captures the exhilaration of speed with its snappy designs.
They are far from fashion ingenues. Anu opened her own Knightsbridge boutique Aranya and sold collections for 13 years, retailing in over 300 doors, before taking time off to have her second son. Nandita launched and built her name as the go-to resort wear designer, within the Indian market.
Gulf’s signature orange disc logo recalls the driver suit in the classic film Le Mans starring Steve McQueen. Today, Gulf is a key sponsor of the iconic Williams F1 racing team – for the 2023 Formula 1 season and beyond.
Since the reprise from Covid, AN-Y1 has opened a June pop-up on Savile Row. Plans are in the pipeline to open pop-ups next in Dubai and Singapore.
With brands like Ferrari winning followers with his luxe sporty style, AN-Y1 looks to have a promising future.
Malone Souliers: Sexy Victorian
London’s Victoria comeback continued at Malone Souliers, with corsetry detailing, 19th-style clasps and Dickensian booties on display.
A British label manufactured in Italy, Malone Souliers chose the Italian Embassy on Grosvenor Square as the location of its professional presentation.
Showing a great series of pointy pumps decorated with pearls, seen under a Renaissance oil painting of a lady with pearl necklace.
Lots of sherbet satin high heels court shoes finished with square clasps, shapes taken from Victorian lingerie.
Nearby slingbacks trimmed in grosgrain ribbon continued the Moll Flanders mood. Though Queen Cora also got a makeover in another series of crystal covered shoes and a full crystal mesh boot – Victoria goes to Vegas.
Banshee of Savile Row: Classic tailoring, modern attitude
Those who search for sophisticated tailoring with a little kick should consider Banshee of Savile Row, an Irish marque making a mark in England.
Banshee staged a smart runway show in its show space, one floor up at 13 Savile Row, presenting classy tailoring with cool titles.
Empress for deep red velvet tuxedo suit with frogging; Tigress for a blue bold pinstripe three-piece suit and Lion for a black fine wool double-breasted redingote. All worn with slinky tops and bodices.
“I like a mix of long and short,” smiled designer Ruby Slevin, who paired a sequined mini with an ankle-trimming one button velvet coat.
There’s even a brown houndstooth tuxe in Donegal tweed, where designer Ruby Slevin’s family hails from, and where she shot the brand’s latest video clip.
Both a direct-to-consumer brand and a bespoke house, Banshee is off to America next month for three trunk shows on Fifth Avenue in New York, Chicago, where it will also stage a runway show in the Art Institute, and finally to Los Angeles.
Ashish: Surrealism inside Nobu
Just when the penumbra of serious clothes was darkening the whole London season, when along comes Ashish to provide us with a proper surrealist romp.
Guests at this show staged inside Nobu Hotel were greeted with a black goddess in a three-meter-long dress, standing onto a silvery moon. Beside her, a beefy lothario with a hairy chest, attired in sequined knickers lay asleep on a bed made in the shape of a cartoon swan.
Referencing the power of dreams and quoting Arundhati Roy, Ashish sent his cast out in mashups of the designer’s favored sequins and his design colleague Linder Sterling’s halftone dots. Delhi-born Ashish might be the most maximalist designer in London, but his clothes have been worn by Beyoncé, Debbie Harry, Rihanna and Taylor Swift.
Lean sheathes for women or wee shorts for men made in sequined flowers, stems and starfish. Mashup patchwork sequined leggings and tops – blending polka dots, plaids, checks and big cat shapes. Avant-garde transgender looks, and an angelic young lad in silver platform boots, knickers and halo, along with a mesh T-shirt that read ‘I Love Fairies’.
“Given the state the world is in today. We need surrealism, we have to dream to stay sane,” argued Ashish backstage, after fully living up to his credo.
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