1. Christopher Kane.
Each of his collections has been centered around one clear theme that conspicuously runs throughout the clothes. He’s done Frankenstein, Photosynthesis, rainbows and the galaxy — all certainly visually pleasing and fun ideas, but not eh most thought-provoking. Well not so for his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which was inspired by the late Central Saint Martins professor Louise Wilson, and which seemed to lean more towards the thought-provoking and less towards the visually entertaining. “Because of those 18 months on the MA, because of meeting and being taught by Louise, I am where I am today,” Kane wrote in his show’s notes of his old professor who passed away this past May. During his time with louise, when he was getting his MA at CSM, Kane was exploring ropes and cords in dresses that, he wrote, “were not shown.” So he decided to revisit this idea, while also building onto it — grieving his loss sartorially, in a way.
“Here, we are looking back to our time with Louise, but also looking forward,” he said.
2. Toga Archives.
Toga is a brand one goes to for clothes that are anything but ordinary. Their pieces are different, eccentric, sometimes kooky and always creatively constructed. The Japanese label’s designer, Yasuko Furuta, has said that her clothes are for the “complex woman,” and if you take a gander at her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, you’ll immediately see what she means. The confluence of fabrics suggests not only complexities, but a nonconformist disposition too. “Feminine, but not overtly so,” she said. Visually, there’s no mistaking that some of the prints were inspired by the French modernist painter Serge Poliakoff.
And such inspirations always serve as pleasant reminders that, behind all of the street style hullabaloo, fashion is ultimately art as well.
3. Mary Katrantzou.
Mary Katrantzou’s is the type of designer whose clothes are instantly recognizable. One characteristic she’s maintained throughout all of her collections is a bold print — prints that look more like photographs than anything else and are always hyper-realistic. Symmetry has always been at the forefront of her prints too — a theme that could probably be traced back to her early interest in architecture. For her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Mary explored a rather apt theme for fashion these days: the environment but, more specifically, geology. Shirts with sheer paneling were inspired by tectonic plates, while other pieces were clearly influenced by some of the world’s first living organisms like coral and algae.
For this collection, she took herself back to a time when the earth was pure and untouched — when it consisted of Pangaea and Panthalassa — and let her imagination run wild.
4. Meadham Kirchoff.
If it weren’t for designers like Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchoff — the two who make up the brand Meadham Kirchoff — the fashion industry might have lost its pulse a long time ago. Meadham Kirchoff makes sure that fashion upholds its dreamy, fantastical elements, often making pieces that look more like costumes than anything else. But it’s not just clothes they’re concerned with; the two are preoccupied with politics, equality and the state of society too. In particular, it’s the silent, but destructive and ever-present prejudices that rankle them most. “Freedom is not true. There’s no such thing as freedom. We live in this disgusting culture where freedom is this myth that everybody sort of believes in. There’s no equality. Women still don’t have full equal rights. Homosexuals still don’t have full equal rights. I have people shout at me every single place I go. It’s apparently fine for people to bother women, to rape women, to bother homosexual sand I’m sick of it really,” they said after the show. And I assume that after this commentary, the tampon trees started to make a bit more sense; the space where the show was held was decorated in trees, from which bloody tampons hung.
In the show’s notes, the designers nodded to Vivienne Westwood and the influence she had on this collection, which anyone well-versed in fashion didn’t really need to be told; the elements of punk in the collection were pure and honest and not a half-hearted studded or spiked attempt. They veered from the typical vanity of fashion week with an open casting call for their models that read “typical models not required” and which produced a range of personalities, skin colors and body types. And if their message still somehow evaded anyone, there were the words and phrases scrawled out onto some of the clothes that drove their point home — words that represent feminism, freedom and homosexuality set against the forces working to oppress them.
It’s always much appreciated when a designer can clearly articulate how certain pieces in his or her collection came to fruition. For his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Ashish Gupta, of the London-based label Ashish, made it clear that his designs were not random, but instead calculated decisions. “I’ve been wanting to try lots of new techniques out for a while now. Including making gingham and snakeskin out of sequins,” he said. A straightforward and honest designer is always refreshing, but even more so is one who doesn’t try to squeeze far-fetched ideas from collections or make the clothes into something they’re not. The formula for this collection seemed to be “what you see is what you get” and, in addition to lots of sequins, we also saw lots of black models. It was a purposeful decision on Ashish’s part and one that we’d hope would be as standard as a pack of white models strutting down the runway. But the attention that this decision has afforded him has proved that, sadly, it’s not.
“I don’t think there’s enough done to promote diversity in the fashion industry. It’s all very well having a token black girl here and there but I really wanted to make a statement. You know, if a designer has all white girls in their show, nobody asks for the reasons behind the casting, which I think is really strange. We live in a multi-cultural society. London is one of the most amazing multi-cultural cities and I just feel that needs to be represented in fashion,” Ashish said.
6. Simone Rocha.
Another designer whose clothes are paramount to fashion, Simone Rocha will forever remain relevant because of her blind devotion to fashion’s romantic side. Her clothes bring to mind the idea of art for art’s sake.
One might feel tempted to comment on the suffocating potential of wrapping one’s face with a scarf, but even that felt like it fit naturally into her grand, overarching theme of love — suggestive of love’s capacity to cloud one’s judgement.
Models walked out on marabou-embellished slippers, perhaps inviting onlookers to ask what it is about this slipper trend that Celine and now Rocha find so captivating. But then again, love will make you do some pretty weird things.