Walking into the Niro Wang AW16 show, our eyes were drawn immediately to the trail of wooden shapes littered across the catwalk, leading to the figure of a small rocking horse at the far end of the catwalk. As the lights went down, cow bells and animal sounds could be heard, transporting us far away from the grey streets of London to the agricultural Sweden of the past.
Inspired by the ‘Trähäst’ or Dala Horse (hand-carved toys made by peasants and farmers out of material found in nature), the collection embodied a rural lifestyle, at one with the Earth. Each look that sauntered slowly down the runway – a pleasant change from the usual rush of LFW – was clearly influenced by the shapes and properties of the natural world.
Silhouettes were relaxed, with loose-fitting, androgynous styles and Wang’s signature draping creating movement similar to a gentle breeze with each step. The colour palette was straight out of a farmers’ field on a long, hot day; shades of beige and cream were the basis of the designs, interspersed with the odd flash of burgundy or indigo. Fabrics, too, were synonymous with a more natural lifestyle, combining linens and wool.
Yet this is where the true beauty in Wang’s designs lie; their ability to totally embody one idea, while simultaneously expressing another. Juxtaposed with this historical farming lifestyle is his contemporary aesthetic, coming together in perfect harmony. The relaxed separates are manipulated to create up-to-date styles and outfits; the linen and wool are combined into an innovating hybrid fabric and the leaf and horse shapes become modern prints and technically intricate embroideries.
As the final designs made their way backstage and Wang jumped onto the catwalk for his bow, I felt as though I had been on a journey, all the way from Sweden in the 1890s to London today. From a simple toy, rooted in forgotten farming heritage, Wang has created a collection that expresses at once both the past and the present, both the simple and the technological, forming a truly unique, versatile and cosy range of clothing that will be infinitely wearable next Autumn.
Images: Daniela Monteiro | Fashion Week Photographer| @Danikm