Eden Loweth, the creative mind behind the gender-fluid London label, is ready to go at it alone. Tomorrow he’ll be showing his first collection as creative director, titled Therapy. Is he nervous? Let’s find out.
Martine Rose is Back in Business for SS21. Her boys and girls – as she expands the label’s womenswear line – are ready for the 9 – 5, but it’s no slog when you’re dressed in Rose’s signature tailoring, as the designer explores the tailored extremities of past seasons. This time round, in a lookbook shot by Heji Shin, she’s introducing downsizing – suit jackets hug the torso, while traditional white-collared shirts cling to the body. Overblown trench coats are shrugged on and Rose’s elongated faux python loafers peep out beneath.
This season she introduces a wrap-around shape with a matching tie belt – a slouchy fit accompanying printed denim and trousers which saucily zip down from waist to ankle. Throughout, Rose’s past football references are reinterpreted: traditional jersey patterns are turned into striped jacquards in wool, creating boxy suit shapes with accentuated shoulders, while sexy stockings are sneakily concealed as football socks pulled just below the knee.
As with past collections, Rose explores rave. She came across a photograph of the 1970s San Francisco underground gay scene while collaborating with rave historian Steve Terry, taking with her the psychedelic floral prints, sickly acid yellow and moc-croc two pieces we see in a subversive collection merging reworked tailoring with sex, sweaty dancefloors and Banker Wankers. Expect perfection, always. TJS
A neon-fuelled online arcade was the setting for GCDS’ SS21 collection.
Deploying a virtual FROW – complete with avatar Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid (!) – the whole thing took place in an intergalactic arena lined with busts of tri-boob aliens and a blazing, setting sun as the backdrop (feels like the sun wasn’t the only thing blazing when this was thought up heh heh).
Creative director Giuliano Calza sent his digital models down the runway wearing Rick and Morty inspired hoodies, itsy-bitsy marijuana bikinis, and fluorescent pink latex pants with matching jackets.
A much needed escape from the real world from the never underwhelming Italian streetwear label. AF
Dsquared2’s design duo Dean and Dan Caten amped up the sex for SS21, with punk and military references interspersed throughout. In keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, the collection – made up of twisted lines and sharp tailoring – was presented via a co-ed video lookbook.
For both men and women, cargo trousers are offset by oversized blazers, and monochrome tones boast flashes of fluoro orange and zebra print. Lace makes a surprise appearance, too: sometimes provocatively, and then coyly, peeking through the waistline of acid wash jeans blown up in proportion and tailored to wrap around the leg.
The collection’s military and aviation references are clear, but subverted and juxtaposed with daywear. There’s a lustrous silver boiler suit for men, and utilitarian trousers with zips grazing the floor matched with minimalist suiting. It’s a subtly rebellious show that strikes all the right chords: sexy, elegant, fun. JW
For her final collection at the helm of the Italian fashion house, before Kim Jones takes over, Silvia Venturini Fendi reconnected with her past.
Edie Campbell opened the show, followed by a stellar line-up including Paloma Elsesser, Yasmine Le Bon, Ashley Graham, Karen Elson and Jill Kortleve. The 67-look co-ed collection involved slouchy suiting, short suits, jumpsuits and three-piece suits (suits!) worn loosely, and made with linen. Nods to nostalgia were present by way of pelerine socks worn to the knee, and Venturini Fendi’s use of broderie anglaise finishes on accessories, with delicate napkins draped over mini picnic hamper-style bags – a nod to the recent flux in Parklife, perhaps, given Covid-19. TJS
Bianca Saunders makes clothes for men to move in, without forfeiting elegance. And her SS21 collection The Ideal Man – a beguiling exploration of “cut and proportion, fluidity and movement” – is no exception.
“It’s about character in clothing, narrative through construction, and the multiplicity of ‘ideals’ within us,” the press release reveals, and was inspired by Hans Eijkelboom’s 1978 work of the same name.
For his project, the Dutch photographer quizzed different women on their dream beau, before documenting himself in the guise of these ideals. In Saunders’ launch video, however, she lets her models do the work, adopting her chosen ideals in a plush, wooden-panelled interior.
These range from “gangster pretending to be corporate” (sleek, short-sleeved shirts with the designer’s signature tucked, padded shoulder, worn with matching trousers) to “super nerd at a dancehall concert” (tailored shirt-and-shorts combos, paired with pulled-up white ankle socks and loafers).
More casual garms appear in the “man going to his first ball in heels” segment, which includes a ruched Jamaican tourist T‑shirt and a cute fuchsia handbag in vegan leather. While “Gully queen at his engagement party” features a new collaboration with Wrangler (tie-dyed double denim and sleeveless jackets galore).
As ever, Saunders’ designs balance softness with strength, minimalism with playfulness, business with pleasure – a bold celebration of the dualities that exist within us all. DW
FENG CHEN WANG
For the past five years, Feng Chen Wang has been redefining men’s tailoring and streetwear with her forward-looking, gender-fluid approach to design. And with her SS21 video (which opts against showcasing a new collection), we see the Chinese-born, London-based designer take some time out to reflect on her journey and the central tenets of her brand.
“[Wang] often mines her heritage in China’s Fujian province and works with the people there,” the press release for the film, titled Ode to Community, expands. “Community – and the idea of human connection more broadly – are fundamental components of her practice.”
The five-minute short introduces us to seven members of Wang’s inner-circle – a writer and tech initiative founder, a musician, a skater, a youth group volunteer, a tattoo artist, and two students – who are all, in turn, members of their own individual communities. Each has selected a quintessentially Wang ensemble from the designer’s past collections – think: a masterfully deconstructed jacket; panelled shorts and lounge pants; netted knitwear and tie-dyed denim – and each explains what community means to them.
The overarching (and apt) takeaway is the importance of both individuality and a collective coming-together. As student Hai says in the film’s closing lines, “The story of Feng Chen Wang is about deconstruction and reconstruction, like life itself.” DW
Optimism comes in flower power form for Charlotte Knowles’ SS21 collection, aptly titled PETALS. Backed by a short film by photographer Harley Weir, Knowles and her partner Alexandre Arsenault have been yearning for hope during these uncertain months. They used the life cycle of flowers as a symbol for the design duo’s rejection of the seemingly never-ending fashion system cycle, as well as a glimpse into what the past few months could mean for the not-so-distant future: change – and for the better.
Through an acidic colour palette – blending orange with green, yellow with peach, and brown with blue – Knowles’ girls are as empowered as ever. There’s a toughness through solid leather corsets and knickers creating muscular shapes, and sharp, pointed boots worn with elongated flares. For the first time, Knowles and Arsenault introduce denim through bootcut jeans, that fit perfectly into the early-00s style the pair regularly reference – whether in the maxi-sleeved blouses, or the knee-length suede overcoats – which also borrow from the ’60s and ’70s counterculture movements evident throughout the collection.
Charlotte Knowles’ mission is to make beautiful clothes that last. But above all, clothes that uplift. The political message is clear: that optimism can come in the strangest of times – even in 20-sodding-20. TJS
Per Götesson gets personal in For Lillie – a tribute to his grandmother, nicknamed “working-class princess” – who passed away earlier this year. The Swedish designer’s relationship with his grandmother reflected his eye for craft, subversive silhouettes and repurposing of fabrics and craft techniques to form progressive concepts on modern masculinity. She herself was a garment factory worker with a “specific appreciation for what is beautiful”.
Sensual in design and often humorous in approach, Götesson’s SS21 collection is as much an evolution of menswear as his previous seasons – but this time reworking key pieces like “the boyfriend shirt” blown up to the proportions of a knee-length dress. Similarly, Götesson introduces cuts and details typically found in womenswear, like a denim coat-cum-dress, a portrait-neck zippered cardigan and details by way of brooches made from bracelets. TJS
This season – for a Fashion Week unlike any other – London-based designer Paria Farzaneh took her show to Amersham. That’s zone 9, where the air’s a bit cleaner. It’s far – but, set in acres of green land, it was a truly fitting setting for a collection urging us to stop, think, close our eyes and take a deep breath. What do you stand for? Do you know what you believe in? asks Farzaneh, in a politically-fuelled presentation inspired by the fires that tore across the West Coast of America, forcing residents to evacuate their homes, and police brutality causing the unlawful deaths of thousands of Black lives in America, inspiring protests this year.
The presentation was Farzaneh’s New World Order – the designer’s formed a cult, walking side-by-side, dressed in tough oxblood PVC and green anoraks shielding the face. The collection was functional and, at times, harsh, with khaki camo trousers worn alongside hard leather boots. Pockets were added to a utilitarian vest, while zippers decorated a high-neck, sleeveless dress, nodding to the designer’s nack for functionality.
In this collection, unlike her past, there was a message of anger – and hope. Farzaneh is ready for war. As the models walked closer towards the audience, up a steep hill, there was an impending moment of unity. Cast away from the obstruction of inner-city life, this was a moment for us to pause and reflect on the politics of the past year, and decide what we are going to do next. TJS
Liberation is the only way forward for designer Priya Ahluwalia this season, as she asks: where do we go from here? Following the polarising political landscape of 2020, the Nigerian-Indian-British designer embarks on a mission of positivity and hope in the wake of police brutality, blatant racism and neglect from the UK and US governments.
Ahluwalia’s collections have long stemmed from her compelling heritage, taking from the histories of her family in Lagos and India. This season, the 27-year-old partnered with Lagos-born British graphic designer Dennis McInnes, as the pair researched archival posters, newspaper clipping and photographs from protests in 1960s Nigeria.
The result? A punchy collection steeped in juxtaposing colours, with an overarching message of liberation. Cuts are reminiscent of the ’60s dancefloor, with wide-legged, printed trousers worn with sleeveless vests and denim jackets buttoned only half way. Meanwhile angular, zig-zag patterns create relaxed silhouettes, layering prints, embroideries and panels of fabric to create shape.
Ahluwalia’s design process is once again ethically-minded, using only vintage and deadstock fabrics throughout. This time, though, she was closer to home, spending her days in south London’s Tooting market once the nationwide lockdown began to ease. TJS
FASHION EAST SS21
Maximilian Davis made his Fashion East debut this weekend with a collection rooted in the 1934 emancipation of the enslaved people of Trinidad and Tobago. Once-forced to perform as entertainment, the people reclaimed the abhorrent tradition, forming a carnival of love and liberation that still continues today.
Davis draws on far and wide sartorial influences like the avant-garde style of Hype Williams’ videos, super short cuts and low-slung waists worn by Lil’ Kim, and the white cravats worn by 18th century Senagalese former slave, Jean-Baptiste Belley, to unify facets of Black culture into a celebratory collection. He establishes a reclamation of elegance through sensual evening gowns made from viscose and bonded crepe and keyhole halter tops reminiscent of Lucio Fontana’s slashed canvases, while the pleated ra-ra skirts and calf suede dresses and jeans nod to Davis’ love for underground nightlife.
The collection is as much dance-floor ready as it is a sensitive dedication to the Black narrative.
When GOOMHEO made her Fashion Week debut six months ago, she had lurrrv on her mind. This time round, she’s channeling a darker side to romance, taking on the role of a sensuous voyeur influenced by the erotic paintings of German artist Paul Wunderlich – all nude figures and surreal strokes established via a vibrant pallette of gaudy greens and fleshy pinks.
This season, the designer’s boys are teasing us – garments are made from sensual silk chiffon and GOOMHEO’s scarlet and black wrap around tops reveal flashes of skin. Further decoration is sustainably-minded by way of upcycled sports jerseys used to zip together patchwork textiles. Then there are the fringing details,that add a sense of something deeper lurking beneath…
For SS21, Nensi Dojaka’s initial reference point was a Sylvie Guillem ballet show in north London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre. For her, it was the lightness of movement that led to her collection influenced by the female body and abstract interplays of shapes and shades. That, and the peacefulness of her studio during the most trying months of lockdown, a stillness that allowed her to explore the art of draping as seen in her voluminous sheer trousers and floor length skirts.
Albania-born Dojaka’s process involves starting with a minimalist frame, upon which she layers draped and knotted chiffon, tulle and organza textures that expose sections of the skin as seen in her new Harley Weir-lensed SS20 campaign visuals. As for the initial ballet reference point, consider Dojaka’s new lace-up stockings to be your new Saturday night (at home) dancing partner.
For his final collection with Fashion East, designer-slash-dancer Saul Nash presented Flipside – his SS21 collection further evolving his designs for fluid movement, function and transformation.
Nash imagined the freedom of men spinning around in space, and used this as the starting point an escapist collection built around pieces that open up and move around – a transformative shape-shifter of sorts. Influenced by the fabric worn by 1890s dance pioneer Loie Fuller, and the billowing skirts worn by Sufi dancers, Saul began developing breathable garments with a commitment to functionality. Quick release zippers are used to transform trousers into knee-length shorts, and anoraks are made with protective hoods with toggles added to create the illusion of a shell. Many of Nash’s pieces are flippable, for example a tracksuit that’s green on one side and printed on the other, as well as a reversible polo shirt made using an eyelet cloth that’s often found in football kits. TJS
In June, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida debuted their ReM’Ade collection, featuring looks crafted entirely from their own upcycled fabrics. They also published a sustainability manifesto to map out their intended journey to eco-conscious design.
This season, the Portuguese design duo have taken things one step further: rather than showcasing a new collection, they’ve taken the opportunity to launch a periodical publication, titled SEE-THROUGH, “dedicated to the makers, processes and values that advocate a more transparent fashion industry”.
Their “SS21” video kicked off a series of accompanying film collaborations, in this case with the Portuguese dancer André Cabral. In it, Cabral enters an empty dance studio, dressed in a signature Marques’Almeida graphic-print, turtle-neck top and wide-legged, stone-washed purple jeans. He draws back a black velvet curtain to reveal the room’s wall-spanning mirror and proceeds to perform a fluid and powerfully visceral dance to The Maze, a song from Sally Potter’s seminal film, Orlando. He doesn’t change outfit – a pertinent statement at a time when the fashion industry is being widely called upon to re-evaluate its values and practices.
SEE-THROUGH’s practise is that of community, a press release informs, “[which] means to care, to nurture, to honour, to empower”. For the first issue, M’A have asked members of their community to answer the question “who are you and what is important to you right now?” And by choosing this moment in the fashion schedule to highlight transparency, the duo are spotlighting their own priorities like never before. DW
In Richard Malone’s SS21 presentation video, Anna Engerström, Cree Barnett Williams and Karen Bengo perform a hypnotic dance (choreographed by Engerström) against a white studio backdrop, to a rhythmic soundtrack of foot-tapping and hand-clapping. Their shadows follow suit, highlighting the Northern Irish designer’s mastery of sculptural silhouettes.
The collection, titled Rehearsal, is one of Malone’s most visually splendid to date. And the sight of three women in such opulent evening attire, performing together and alone in this sparse setting is both mesmerising and unsettling. The atmosphere is one of being all dressed up with nowhere to go – or, as the show notes proffer, “high drama for an appointment with no-one.”
This distinctly 2020 sensation – and the “warped, dismantled sense of time” we’ve all experienced during the Covid-19 crisis – propelled Malone’s creation process as he crafted the meticulously tailored garments during lockdown.
The sustainably produced, richly hued fabrics he uses are plush, yet comforting (crushed velvet; silk-like wool crêpe; velour) and the construction boasts an armour-like protectiveness (“weighty, almost upholstered” bustles, breastplates and shoulder detailing abound). As the notes proclaim these are “clothes you want to climb into, to run away in” – but which would nevertheless require an audience of onlookers to admire your magnificence. DW
Irish menswear designer Robyn Lynch is back with a collection that expands upon her modern mash-up of Irish tradition (Aran knit; farmer plaids) and ’90s-feel sportswear. This time, however, she’s introduced womenswear into the mix – nylon skirts, fitted windbreakers – with covetable results.
As ever, Ireland, and Lynch’s upbringing there, is the starting point for the narrative-driven designer’s SS21 endeavour. It centres on the Baldoyle Industrial Estate in Dublin, which played an integral role in Lynch’s student days, and the Tour de Ireland – the cycle-centric collection is a natural extension of Lynch’s recent Rapha collab.
The launch video opens on the estate, with footage shot by Lynch’s father. We visit the Pearl Deli (owned by Lynch’s family); Franey Hardwood Products, which built a stand for Lynch’s BA presentation; Baldoyle Print, which still prints her lookbooks; and David Thomas Design, which lent Lynch her first ever sewing machine. These companies’ logos feature on jerseys and jersey-tee hybrids throughout the collection, which models showcase against large-scale photographs of the Tour de Ireland, taken by Taz Darling.
The colour palette is restrained: greens, oranges, white (another nod to Ireland), and a pale lilac. Lynch’s panelling game remains as strong as ever: zip-ups are embellished with merino cable knit; a bib-front mini skirt with mesh lining side strips; sports shorts with flannel towelling. Lynch took up cycling during lockdown, and her latest offering – the chicest take on cyclewear I’ve seen – makes me want to do the same. DW
True punk is the message at the heart of Vivienne Westwood’s SS21 collection – a slogan emblazoned across T‑shirts and face masks alike in the doyenne of DIY’s digital launch video, which appears to have been filmed, in part, during the recent Black Lives Matter protests in London. Westwood’s ongoing dedication to political and environmental activism in her work has never felt more relevant.
Yet the playful collection fosters a distinct sense of hope, encapsulated in the poem that opens the film, written and performed by rapper Brian Nasty. “You’re not defined by your mistakes but by after and the choices you make.”
A plethora of bold colours, checks, stripes and prints compound this aura of positivity: Westwood and her partner Andreas Kronthaler created eye-popping prints from the oil paintings of fellow punk powerhouse Chrissie Hynde; while the intricate drawings of New York-based artist Anthony Newton lend a trompe l’oeil effect to silk dresses.
As ever, sleek tailoring (crafted from sustainably produced fabrics – organic cotton; forest positive viscose etc) takes centre stage. Sharply cut co-ords and artfully draped dresses abound, enlivened by playful accessories. “Buy less, dress up, swap clothes,” the press notes read. “It is always street theatre.”
Westwood’s eclectic cast of talented performers for this particular endeavour include makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench, poet and activist Kai Isaiah-Jamal and musician-slash-actor Ursula Holliday – a new generation of power-dressed, punk-spirited pioneers to usher in an era of change. DW
Underneath the Manhattan bridge, to an audience of ducks and a few unknowing joggers and pram-pushers, designers Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta showed the final collection of NYFW. It makes sense for the pair, who has been showing in New York for nine years, to take a slot in the fashion week calendar usually reserved for a stalwart like Marc Jacobs. These two deserve the recognition, as I selfishly feel their consistently exceptional wares – and successful collaboration with UGG – should make Eckhaus Latta much bigger (even if the steady growth of the brand is placing them on good footing in the face of an unsteady future).
Paloma Elsesser opened the show wearing a hooked skirt that looked like an amalgam of granny’s doilies (cottagecore?) and an N95 mask. They also sent out models in baggy, selectively dyed jeans that will certainly become coveted items. Their loungewear is stellar, and though minds don’t immediately venture to crocheted sweaters for summer, these look ideal to throw over top of a bathing suit on a cool summer’s eve. With a palette that includes colours they describe as “lagoon redux” and “burnout velvet” and whatever electric green they’ve incorporated, Eckhaus Latta have once again made me want to buy every last piece – life-saving masks included. TT
Liang has fallen into her stride with SS21’s 25-look collection. The designer started her label in 2014, and through the power of the fleece rose to the enviable rank of New York’s most wearable. This season – which pre-empts the opening of her first ever store and the launch of a new category in October – gets a bit sexier.
Cut-out dresses and tops and low-hipped skirts exposing a high-waisted thong are a welcome addition to her fleece staples (which now come in forest green and a patchwork version). Her brand of downtown cool also includes a new fun print, a character from the Cardcaptor Sakura manga series. TT
It’s refreshing when a brand that touts a pro-climate message and faultlessly delivers on that promise. Again and again, Collina Strada’s designer Hillary Taymour goes as far as one can go, I imagine, in creating thrilling new products out of the old (designs/fabric/ideas).
For SS21, Taymour created an eco-conscious virtual farmland with Charlie Engman, populated by her friends and collaborators including Aaron Phillips, Oyinda, Kimberly Drew, Danny Bowien, and Alexandra Marzella.
“The messaging is change is cute,” Taymour tells us of the inspiration behind her collection. “It’s about staying positive through everyday doom and gloom and realising that we can all live the way we choose to live. Charlie Engman and I wanted to create a visual utopia with intent to let viewers know to embrace the change, vote for the right leaders, and have fun.”
This collection features prints by illustrator Sean-Kierre Lyons, and Collina Strada will auction off 11 limited edition T‑shirts, with 70 per cent of proceeds benefitting G.L.I.T.S., an organisation that offers support to trans sex workers. Her label is literally the gift that keeps on giving. TT
Currently flying a top of Somerset House is a flag with the words “All Our Children” written across it. It’s the title of Bethany Williams’ SS21 collection and a political spin stemming from the designer’s involvement with The Magpie Project, a London-based charity tackling homelessness amongst immigrant women and their children. The slogan takes itself comes from local authorities denying the British welfare system to children either homeless or at risk of homelessness, often told “they are not our problem, they are not our children”.
Williams has worked with the mothers and children of the charity for the past year, and her collection is dedicated to their stories and lives, as well as the importance of family spirit in a child’s life. Sustainably-minded and ethically grounded, All Our Children is built from deadstock, recycled and organic materials to form playful prints and relaxed shapes. For the first time, the London-based designer introduces tailoring, adding a structured element to her signature loose-fits. Similarly, this season she reaches a totally new audience, adding kidswear to the menu with miniature versions of three of the looks.
As always with Williams’ collections, 20 per cent of its proceeds will go towards a charity. This year, of course, being The Magpie Project. TJS
Metaphorically speaking, this year has been a straightjacket of constraints. But Alyx’s SS21 collection is anything but, seen today in Matthew Williams’ roomy 32-look In Sieme collection. It harks back to the creative director’s (and soon to be at Givenchy, too) early beginnings exclusively designing womenswear: the cuts are looser, shapes boxier and trousers have been cut to a primary shape. No frills, except for the painstaking attention to detail by way of studs. Hundreds of ’em.
With the moody lookbook shot by Toyin Ibidapo – the photographer behind photobook Cult of Boys, a dreamy tribute to androgynous waifs – the collection is a sensual tribute to Williams’ great consideration for the body, and his ability to cinch things in in all the right places. A draped slip dress hangs, but not too loosely, while an added leather bralet creates structure to another. Trousers are held at the waist by a slim metal bar and the leather jackets – polished to shine – are roomier than ever. TJS
Earlier this year Saint Laurent’s creative director, Anthony Vaccarello, announced he was departing the traditional fashion month schedule, telling WWD in April that the Parisian house would adapt to the Covid-19 crisis by showing at its own pace – a move which was confirmed yesterday when Vaccarello released his SS21 menswear collection.
Titled No Matter How Long The Night Is, the collection acts as an immersive experience by tying together a short film shot in Paris, New York and Beijing, AR clips, 3D images, street posters, curated playlists and, obviously, more looks than you can kick a boot at.
It’s a lowkey collection from Saint Laurent, with easy-breezy tailoring and soft textures, like colourful faux fur, making their way onto ankle-length shirts and tropical jackets. Taking their cue from the American West, oversized straw hats are worn with structured white suits and angular shades accompany Saint Laurent’s signature skinny ties and shrunken denim. TJS