London Fashion Week's First Digital Showcase
The first European fashion week to go digital (as more and more designers move online or off the fashion week calendars entirely with COVID-19 shaking up the industry), London Fashion Week men's (and some women's) took place last weekend.
Designers from Marques Almeida to Ahluwalia showcased their latest collections and inspirations in various video formats on the British Fashion Council's homepage. Many highlighted their sustainable values, some opted for cinematic videos. Charles Jeffrey used his platform to amplify the voices of other black musicians and designers. While it's definitely a mixed bag, and prompts even more mixed feelings about a digital fashion week format, here are five we feel are worth rewatching.
Ahluwalia – "Jalebi", a 3D VR Exhibition
Featured in our own shortlist of 10 Emerging Asian Designers To Watch, Ahluwalia does it again as she closes the first session of digital London Fashion Week with a 3D VR Exhibition; displaying archival Inkjet prints from her latest book, Jalebi. Displaying photographs by Laurence Ellis, each study moves “back and forth between the imagined and real” – reflecting the cyclical nature of life in Southall, Britain’s first Punjabi community, where Ahluwalia regularly visited growing up.
In turn, each photograph reveals more of Ahluwalia’s world, allowing the viewer to further understand and how her heritage is fused into the recycled and found garments she acquires and transforms into her collections.
A celebration of immigration and how it has impacted the community, family is a hallmark in Jalebi: photographs are laid next to extracts of Ahluwalia’s interview on her family experience between India and Britain. These portraits allow the viewer to submerge themselves in the profiles of the many mixed-heritage youths living in modern-day Britain – similar to Ahluwalia herself – and the beauty of diversity within this community.
Visit Jalebi by Ahluwalia at digital London Fashion Week.
Buy Jalebi at Ahluwalia Studio. Proceeds will be donated to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and Southall Black Sisters.
Xu Zhi – AW20, Virtual Catwalk
Soft crooning and a moody set – one which gradually transforms from the underground to a luxury apartment overlooking the city – barely scratch the surface of Xu Zhi’s virtual catwalk. The designer pushes the boundaries of the traditional catwalk using his film: using slow motion to highlight pieces, multiple sets which transition seamlessly, and juxtaposing stationary silhouettes with the traditional catwalk models.
This is who his collection was made for: individuals who want to go from the grubby subway to a classy apartment, and still appear just as chic. Xu Zhi creates a new standard for virtual collection showcases, as his film doesn’t distract from his collection at all: it simply elevates it. Silhouettes fall gracefully, showcasing different movements of the fabric; and Xu Zhi makes use of lighting changes to show his clothes in different settings.
Slicked back hair and angular cheekbones dot the models’ structural silhouettes in Xu Zhi’s AW20 collection, shapes which are signature to Xu Zhi’s brand as his clothes use a construction technique unique to his ateliers – complement the distressed fabric and faux fur squares which act as the motifs of his collection.
Watch AW20 - The Prelude by Xu Zhi at London Fashion Week.
Shop Xu Zhi AW20 at Browns.
Charles Jeffrey – Loverboy Party 2.0 “SOLASTA”, a fundraising event
Charles Jeffrey is back with a second reiteration of his LOVERBOY Party. In tandem with the launch of his new capsule collection, Jeffrey has used his platform and set as a talent showcase and fundraiser for UK Black Pride, featuring five POC creatives in a 30-minute livestream he calls “SOLASTA”.
As in his collection, Jeffrey showcases a punk spirit: one that innovates while respecting tradition through this event – bringing together creatives from all over the industry, each with a different perspective on how their heritage has affected their upbringing in order to bring creative reform to the mainstream consciousness, helping others to become more knowledgeable about other cultures in an effort to eradicate prejudice.
From Mariki, a dancer who explores the meaning of becoming dehumanised; to Catherine Hudson, a designer who free-handed her patterns in her latest collections in high-stress environments to visualise a sense of unbelonging; to Rachel Chinouriri, whose emotive voice captures the isolation she felt as a Zimbabwean brought up in Britain - each creative references their heritage and the microaggressions they felt to create a new identity that draws from both their ethnic backgrounds and British nationality.
Watch LOVERBOY 2.0 by Charles Jeffrey at London Fashion Week. Donate to the fundraiser for UK Black Pride at Gofundme.
Shop Charles Jeffrey's capsule collection at Ssense.
Nabil Nayal – Chapter X: The Archives in Blue, Film
Nabil Nayal draws from the colour blue – “highly regarded as a moral shade … separate from “true colours” which were deemed extravagant and grotesque”, with accents of black and white to highlight shape and form – in provocations of privilege as he inverses the iconic colour into a symbol of privilege. Nayal’s obsession with Elizabethan craftmanship is manifested again as he references the 14th, 15th, 16th centuries in a selection that aims to revitalise the image of privilege; a theme that is highly relevant in the current political climate.
Nayal’s short film strikes a sense of tension and coldness – juxtaposing the intimate sheerness of the lace and tulle in his clothes. The obvious Reformation references go beyond Nayal’s revitalisation of the colour blue; his use of bonded pleating in cotton poplin to “inform doublet-like archetypes” holds onto signature characteristics of this era he made sure to include – such as shoulder wings, high neck, and extreme fit.
Watch Chapter X: The Archives in Blue by Nabil Nayal at London Fashion Week.
Shop Nabil Nayal at Moda Operandi.
palmer//harding – In Conversation with Caroline Issa, Discussion
Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding have a sit-down with Caroline Issa to for a discussion on their brand: how they began, where they’re at now, and what they’re looking to do in the future. Through this discussion, the duo allow viewers to have an in-depth look at their brand and their practices, as they discuss everything from their complementary skillset – how Palmer specialises in draping and pattern cutting; whereas Harding specialises in the design illustration and ensuring each collection aligns with their brand – to how they develop custom fabrics for their collections.
However, what’s most interesting in this livestream is their discussion of the rise of Black Lives Matter and awareness of climate change in tandem with the Coronavirus pandemic – and the impact it has had in accelerating change in the fashion industry. This includes palmer//harding, as they walk the viewer through the different ways they are individually promoting inclusivity as well as sustainability in their brand; such as in their casting, as well as integrating a sustainable approach in their fabrics in making them eco-organic starting with SS21 – which the duo also hint at being the most personal they have ever been with a collection.
Watch In Conversation with Caroline Issa by palmer//harding at London Fashion Week.
Shop palmer//harding at Net-A-Porter.