With internships at Chalayan, Viktor & Rolf, Stella McCartney and Damir Doma, StevenTai’s definition of his customer as ‘nerdy, awkward and ironic’ was never going to translate into brown cardigans and laddered tights. Instead, the Canadian-born CSM graduate makes clothes that invests dorky, old lady-wear with unexpected attitude, grounded in nostalgia but contemporary. Corduroy pieces come in lavender and olive; hems are left frayed; belted coats in puffed white silk recall the warmth of a well slept bed; the sweater vest rules. Utterly beguiling.
When Marc Jacobs sits FROW at Fashion Week, everyone takes notice. If there was any pressure, AV Robertson, finale of the Fashion East triumvirate and formerly Jacobs’ design assistant, didn’t show it. Amie Victoria translated alien landscapes, the seed of the collection, into a stunning mix of feminine/masculine style tropes. Wide pinstripes on off-the-shoulder blazers, high necked tops, bra-lets and slinky pencil skirts were embellished by clusters of crystalline flowers – designed to represent ‘alien spores’. Styled by Katie Grand (an avid supporter) and worn by Edie Campbell, Lineisy Montero and Georgia May Jagger, this was no ordinary show. But – even more than the celebrity backin – what makes Robertson stand out is her dedication to craft. ‘I’ve been in a lot of design studios,’ Grand told the Telegraph. ‘And I’ve never seen someone so young with such an interest and obsession with embroidery.’ It’s the way of the future. We absolutely approve.
How much do I love Sadie Williams’ bold, playful clothes? Lots. NewGen-ner Williams upped the ante this year with a collection of signature space-sporty silhouettes complete with a shattering silver for sci-fi girls ready to plant feet and flags on new worlds. From last season’s school discos, the CSM alum looked at old photographs of her parents on a skiing holiday, which translated to chevron patterns, sequin and lurex dresses and patchwork kilts. Sign me up for the stormtrooper sleeved knitwear, quilted red A-line skirts, all the tartan and any of the leather ski pants.
Few designers make tulle as cool as Molly Goddard, whose puffed princess dresses are presented in scenes of Lynch-ian surrealism and who, in four short seasons, has garnered a cult following. Vision and inspiration remains constant: kids’ clothes, the smocks her mother used to make and debutantes (a reaction to Goddard’s own history of tracksuits). Paired with layered tights and frizzy hair, dresses recall a punkish Miss Havisham, with a simultaneous sense of joyous excess and decay. It’s a clever recipe: dresses built on layers of tulle that can be worn with anything. ’I got interested in how much fabric I could get in a dress,’ Goddard told HungerTV. ‘Some skirts and dresses have up to 40 metres in them.’ In perhaps the greatest accolade a young designer can receive, a panel met on Showstudio.com to discuss Goddard’s work. With observations such as ‘her dresses have the ability to elevate whatever they are worn with’ (Rosanna Falconer), Goddard looks set to go far.
Vegas is the heartstone of Roberta Einer’s AW16 collection, a neon riot of florescent tones, 1950s silhouettes and fringed shirts which pay homage to rhinestone cowboys and the brash sensibility of Nevada’s brightest city. Einer’s embroidery is key here in creating a lush, intricate edge to her work; the playful illustrations of previous collections are replaced with abstract florals on slip dresses and realised in beading, fringing and embroidery, sometimes on faux fur. Fast food, fast cars, fast men is the motif stitched onto one oversized bombe: who could ask for anything more?
Alice Archer’s serious models made an impression. Since 2009, the RCA, Goldsmiths and CSM graduate Archer has been working with Tracey Emin, hand-embroidering versions of the artist’s drawings onto her own designs – but her style couldn’t be more different. Classic, almost conservative, Archer’s fluted skirts and cropped jackets in duchess silk satin and crepe de chine silks are given floral details with lush prints and embroidery inspired by 18th century botanical gardens; fabrics such as jacquard, velvet and chunky hand-knitted sweaters lend textural nuance.
For AW16, Polish-born RCA MA graduate Marta Jakubowski was inspired by superheros – but don’t think Spiderman. Instead, fire walkers are the starting point for dungarees, long sleeping bag-like coats, winged dresses in jersey, suits with sharp lapels and wide trousers that celebrate women’s inner power. The oversized silhouettes refer to ‘body extension and super powers and creating strength through every body part,’ Jakubowski told Dazed. Other tropes of power are contained in Jakubowski’s signature pinstripes and colour palette of red, black and white.
On the occasion of his Holy Communion, Richard Malone’s godmother arrived at church with a shaved head, combat boots and a spandex, zebra-print dress cut to reveal her Celtic tattoos. It made an impact, not least on young Malone, a recipient of the LVMH Grand Prix scholarship, whose AW16 show with Fashion East revealed elaborate pattern cutting and construction in a tribute to working-class streetwear. Stripes in the acid yellow and pale blue of road signs were cut into pinafore dresses and overalls, paired with ruffles and assymetry.
After collections inspired by camping and Vivianne Sassen, Danielle Romeril turned to a 16th century portrait of Isabel de Valois, Consort of King Philip II for inspiration – via futuristic fabrics, footbal scarves and famous 1980s Dutch nightspot Studio Paradiso. The result? Red cropped shirts in Irish linen with huge sleeves unzipped at the elbow, long skirts with cutouts at the waist, wide pants spliced at the knee. Sporty hand-braided chevrons decorated a khaki parka in technical waterproof nylon that resembled silk.