Considering London is not only the theatre capital of the world but a celebrated workshop for pioneering, experimental art, it should come as no surprise that the schedule’s younger draws have a flair for the dramatic. This season a number of shows at London Fashion Week paid testament to the appeal of the spectacle: designers like Richard Malone, Roberta Einer and Pushbutton sent out striking collections that were equally wacky, wonderful and wearable. Below, ORDRE names four emerging labels that made a statement for AW’19.
Designer Seung-Gun Park toyed with the idea of “celebrating all things unflattering” for AW’19, dreaming up a series of unusual headpieces made from plates, combs, forks and even lighters. But beneath these showstoppers, Park’s feminine tailored pieces with strong historical references were nothing short of flattering: Elizabethan collars and 14th-century pourpoint jackets were updated with sporty sweatshirt fabrics, while corset tops and puffed sleeves added a regal spirit. A mish-mash of textures and patterns – checkers, polka dots and frills – resulted in a confident and outspoken collection that reaffirmed the label’s signature punk attitude.
Reflecting on the looming threat of Brexit as an Irish immigrant, for AW’19 Richard Malone looked to simpler times – to the birthday parties of his youth. He sent out a party wardrobe rich in colour and texture that elevated the everyday to a fashion context: he repurposed dog beds into elegant fur stoles, and fashioned frock coats from twill fabrics typically used in school uniforms. Form-fitting silk dresses intricately gathered to contour the body and ladylike suiting in fitting hues of blue, red and white were juxtaposed with punkish laddered knits and hand-painted mohair coats, adding a hint of rebellion.
Already touting an ultra-feminine, maximalist aesthetic, this was only Roberta Einer’s second runway show yet it managed to stand out in the packed schedule. Inspired by her grandmother’s youthful, adventurous style, her shimmering hand-embroidered embellishments were seen across cycling shorts, crop tops, thigh-high boots and wrap skirts; multi-coloured tulle evening gowns added a dash of drama. More commercial pieces - including tailored tartan dresses and blazers, patterned satin shirts, laminated silk puffer jackets - balanced out the collection. All in all, it was a playful and sophisticated line-up confirming Einer’s keen eye for modern feminine dressing.
Inspired by the simultaneous energy and simplicity of Agnes Martin’s minimalist abstract paintings, for her fifth season i-am-chen designer Zhi Chen presented a playful collection bursting with vibrant hues of bubblegum pink, canary yellow and cornflower blue. Dominated by geometric patterns rendered in sleek, angular silhouettes – the result of advanced knit technology – it delivered the perfect marriage of statement dressing and the everyday, all while offering strong commercial viability.