LFW AW14: Fashion Scout, Ones to Watch




Sarah Ryan’s collection focussed on her breathtaking manipulation of leather; from bodice detailing and fringe, to a stunning weave technique that climaxed in a backpack as big as the model herself.  The collection was assertive, somehow balancing both high-octane glamour in black and leather with earthy knits in shades of oatmeal and cream. The obvious hard-graft behind each look gives the clothes an edge all of their own, with the weight of chainmail and a medieval aggression. Ryan played carefully with proportions, balancing hemlines and cropped knit tops with oversized, almost biomorphic accessories that grew from the models like organisms, rendered shell-like in thatched leather. This was a bold collection, allowing Ryan room to grow and experiment whilst making a clear statement of her design aesthetic.



Carrie Ann Stein presented a collection that burst at the seams (almost literally) with colour, pop, and a post-modern playfulness. Proportions went out the window in such a way that some of the looks became completely abstract from their fashion context, appearing more as billboards or, in a few cases, as walking shower curtains. In using old advertising and plenty of neon, Stein jumps on the Americana trend that has held the mainstream since Lana del Rey cropped up singing about videogames and launched a thousand Tumblr tributes. Stein was strongest when she pulled it back slightly, producing separates in striking neon shades and appropriated prints.



Hiroko Nakajima showcased clothes centred on geometry and striking colour combinations; hot pink with electric blue, red and black, grey and canary yellow. Overlaid with striking graphic patterns and inserts, the result was a collection that made an instant, and short-term, impact. The problem for Nakajima was that the collection only packed a punch in terms of colour, failing to make any actual innovative design statement. The minimalist, body-con dresses were rendered in blocks of colour, with added sculptural detailing as a result of the aforementioned patterns and inserts. In fact, the accessories made the great impact from a design perspective, with curiously chic pointed hats and sculptural wraps that both spoke of Elsa Schiaparelli. There is certainly potential here, but Nakajima is yet to fully realise it.



As the lights went up on George Styler’s showcase, a ripple of cheers went over a patch of the audience and it was clear that this collection was aligned with the fashion-tribe brands currently popping up all over the London scene. From Nasir Mazhar to Bolshie to Year Zero, this heavy-branded, fashion-flash streetwear combo has become a genre in itself. However, cynicism aside, Styler’s collection had a true creativity to it; embellishment was careful and beautifully applied, whilst the use of colour and texture was experimental yet developed. Styler’s pieces are extremely well-crafted, and he clearly draws on a wide range of influences from both fashion and from wider cultures and traditions. From American sportswear to Moorish ornament and Eastern European folk traditions, Styler’s design aesthetic has a decidedly ‘magpie’ quality.  What is exciting is that he also has a filter, resulting in a collection of genuine quality, and not merely the haphazard collage of references so often associated with the Tumblr Generation.


Words by Will Ballantyne-Reid