Author: Camilla Hunt

Who's Jack Fashion Week Editor, avid Bukowski enthusiast and lover of all things sequin.

Runways? Pfft.

For Xu Zhi’s AW19 collection, the audience was invited into his story through the medium of dance. Now, don’t get too excited – this wasn’t a mass Hokey Cokey in the name of fashion, but a story that unfolded through the movement of bodies and brief encounters.

Setting the scene, Xu Zhi created a story of a café where strangers come and go, experiencing a fleeting – and sometimes literal – dance with another. They meet and interact for only a short moment before moving on: their stories short and wholly captivating, accentuated by the haunting sounds of the accompanying pianist. What unites these strangers we’ll never know – except, of course, for their Xu Zhi garms. Duh.

Whether the story resonated with the viewer or not, it was fairly impossible not to immerse yourself in the design. As is the shift we are seeing across the board, the collection expanded to include menswear alongside the women’s, blurring gender and fabric lines to create a fluid and interpretative collection. As a brand built on a feminine image, it's certainly an interesting move - but a sensible one too as Zhi gears up for a new partnership with Chinese online giant, JD.com. From the jarring asymmetric hems, column fits and awkward lengths to the androgynous blouses and boxy-shoulder tailoring, boundaries were suspended and the models were one. From heavy faux fur and mesh to low-brim headwear, there was a sense of hiding the figure beneath. The intention? Anonymity, allowing the protagonists in this particular tale to blur in and out of focus and the moment, existing only momentarily in Zhi’s distorted reality.

Yet, out of nowhere, a vision in hot pink appeared with a fringed dress and hoop-handled bucket bag to die for. Anonymous? Unlikely in that get up, but it's the kind of femininity Xu Zhi is known for. This was the look that turned brief cafe encounters into lingering moments; first glances into double takes. We’ll have what she ordered.

 

Words: Camilla Hunt | Fashion Editor | @camillamcleanhunt
Images: Tasmin Dacres | Fashion Week Photographer | @tasm0n_d

Gender fluidity. Hybrid identities. Creative political expression. These could all read as a strategically curated reel of dumped millennial buzzwords if not handled with the right level of consciousness, integrity and heart. For terms that can mean for much for so many, they can feel so impersonal when carelessly brandished without meaning, particularly by me-too brands and the media. Luckily, when it comes to Tolu Coker’s collection -  this season’s Merit Award winning showcase - there is heart, there is meaning and, above all else, it is deeply personal.

As a unisex fashion brand centred around inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility, Tolu Coker’s ethos and ambition couldn’t be more relevant to now if it tried. But it’s genuine too, informed especially by her own dual identity as a Nigerian Londoner. This collection focused on reimagining black identity within a western context, and fuses icons of her heritage– think old family photographs, cultural prints and designs inspired by own father’s diary – with contemporary fabrics, youthful colour schemes and modern design.

It was loud, it was bold and it was vibrant. The collection felt like the wearer was able to carve out their own unique identity, without the enforced constraints of gender or politics. It was carefree as it clashed naval-exposed crop tops and 90s denim with Nigerian prints and braided hair. Recycled leather in vibrant colours, along with reused scraps of fabric and plastic on both male and female bodies, blurred lines and provided unexpected combinations that spoke to the endless possibilities and juxtapositions that make up each and every one of us.

 

Words: Camilla Hunt | Fashion Editor | @camillamcleanhunt
Images: Fashion Scout

Look we’re just going to go ahead and say it: Pam Hogg is the one show at London Fashion Week we consistently look forward to every single season. It’s hard to believe that a designer that consistently commands mile-long queues down the road, a literal elbows-at-dawn charge to get in at the doors and a celebrity friend-filled guest list that reads like the rock’n’roll hall of fame has only been part of the official main schedule since SS18. And that doesn’t even take into account Pam’s fierce, unabashed creative strength and identity, which she has honed to a fine art of familiar signature details delivered with a hefty dose of the unexpected.

Venus in Phurr was the name of the game for this London Fashion Week, and that’s exactly what we got: bold, sensual, exaggerated embodiments of female sexuality, trussed up in fur. For AW19 the delectable Dr Hogg brought erotica to the masses that packed out the vestibule of Freemason’s Hall with a provocative collection that played with BDSM attire and culture in all its splendour, yet coupled it with the contrasting notions of submission, dominance and compliance. Leather, whips, chains, studs and PVC fulfilled the expectations of the story in shades of black, red and gold, whilst the titillating reveal and conceal of flesh through mesh bodysuits and the scantily clad form ensures there was a no way to hide behind the policy, ‘No sex please, we’re British’. With Pam’s eternal muse Alice Dellal cracking her whip and tipping her PVC hat, she guaranteed that the audience were given the thrilled they were expecting and no doubt craving. But it was the pieces that deviated from these tropes that left the greatest impression: angelic, virginal whites and frou-frou powder blues in almost Victorian-esque ankle lengths that offered an alternative take on female sexuality that denoted innocence and enjoyment in equal measure.

Venus herself is the embodiment of love and godly femininity, but that doesn’t mean she’s a prude. After all, she was never one for covering up and now that she walks on Earth, she does so with the same appreciation for her body – with just a few furry nipples pasties, landing strips and a cleverly-positioned ‘Venus’ to shield us from becoming too overwhelmed by her beautiful presence.

Away from the chaos and frenzy of the sexually charged, we were treated to some real Pam classics with studded berets and chic buckled separates in punchy candy pink, yellow and khaki, along with a new-season reinterpretation of her famed rainbow bodysuit. It was a little of what we know; a lot of what we didn’t know or could even hope to anticipate – exactly as a Pam Hogg show should be.

Words: Camilla Hunt | Fashion Editor | @camillamcleanhunt
Runway images: Eloise Peachy | Fashion Week Photographer | @eloisepeachyphoto
Backstage images: Tegan Rush | Fashion Week Photographer | @tegalouise

London Fashion Week can be tiring – what with being on your feet all day and running between shows with barely a moment to grab a Pret sandwich, so the chance to step into the POSTER GIRL spa at the BFC Discovery Lab was very welcome.

Except this was no ordinary salon, this was sixties ‘Beauty School Dropout’ on acid. Neon lights lit the room whilst disco tunes played in the background – okay, so not quite the relaxing scenario we had in mind!

 

Some models lounged on psychedelic-swirl chairs in face masks and hair rollers, others posed in line waiting for their treatments whilst the salon receptionist flicked through a vintage copy of Vogue and answered the kitschy lip-shaped telephone.

And what was on the treatment list? Retro-print knitted co-ords, cycling shorts, metallic slip dresses, plunging necklines and pink, pink and more pink.

The designers' micro-metal mesh dresses from SS19 were there, this time updated in bubble gum pink and magenta and layered over a bell sleeve top.

The knitwear gave a sixties vibe but with a contemporary twist; there were leggings, a flared jumpsuit, polo-style tops and cycling shorts – all with zip-up detailing.  The Hackney-based design duo, Francesca Capper and Natasha Somerville, pride themselves on ensuring all garments are adjustable to fit each individual body shape with ease. And they were keen to show off the versatility of the pieces – a model who looked to be in her sixties or seventies showed the clothes weren't just for the young. She sat under a retro hair drying hood in a ribbed-knit midi dress, paired with magenta tights and fluffy salon slippers of course.

The looks were accessorised with super-pointy mules, transparent bags and candy jewellery – gummy rings and fizzy strips were crafted into chunky necklaces and cherry jellies dangled from the model's earlobes.

Would we like to book for a future appointment? Absolutely!

Words by: Lucy Hardy

Images by: Jessamine Cera

When you think of London Fashion Week, it’s hard not to let your mind wander to the big hitters: Vivienne Westwood, Burberry, Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane and the like. But if your sole focus lies on those with maximum exposure and notoriety, then you could be missing out of a whole world of emerging talent that London is globally known for. Whilst Victoria Beckham’s trousers may dictate the trends for the coming year, we in London march to the beat of our own drum by championing up-and-coming designers who harness a cult following that’s all their own.

From avant-garde Matty Bovan and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy to the cool-girl’s new squeeze, Ashley Williams, there’s been a number of smaller designer brands that are generating even more buzz – and definitely more excitement – than the household names. And this season sees another new name vying to make its mark: Katie Ann McGuigan. Rising through the ranks from Merit Award winner to main schedule showcase in the click of a finger, the Irish native and Westminster graduate is the word of everybody’s lips this season.

Known for her bold and decisive blend of sporting details, vibrant palettes and all-out prettiness, her aesthetic is distinctive, fresh and very now – and this season was no different. For this AW19 collection her signature colour-soaked knitwear took centre stage in tones of mustard, lilac and teal, accentuated by swathes of clashing check prints and punchy tie dye. Nothing felt one dimensions as fabrics juxtaposed and layered atop one another, creating unexpected and chaotic combinations that somehow felt carefully considered and like a natural fit.

Sporting elements such as supersized puffer coats and gilets, along with utility details spotted on a standout khaki boilersuit,  added an unexpected streetwear edge. But nothing seemed more unlikely than the addition of tulle skirts and sleeves layered over the top of it. Where bigger names play to their strengths and deliver consistency, younger players like McGuigan are taking risks and finding their groove, meaning even they might not know what comes next. All we know if that we’re excited to find out next season.

 

Words: Camilla Hunt | Fashion Editor | @camillamcleanhunt
Images: Tegan Rush | Fashion Week Photographer | @tegan.photography