The Next of British – the 2013 BFC/ Vogue Designer Fashion Fund finalists
Fashion’s Best of British is about to get a new recruit. Officially. The British Fashion Council /Vogue Designer Fashion Fund is just days from announcing the 2013 winner of the brand-affirming, wallet-enlarging competition that will see the victor walk away with a cool £200,000.
Previous winners include Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane and Erdem Moralioglu, who have clearly reaped the benefits of the cash prize as well as top notch industry mentoring and business support for their flourishing brands. On this year’s shortlist, announced in December, are Roksanda Ilincic, Mary Katrantzou, Nicholas Kirkwood, Peter Pilotto and Emilia Wickstead. With the stakes high and the talent equally elevated, here’s a breakdown of their latest offerings and what makes them stand out in the sartorial crowd.
Punchy colour against minimalist monochrome, block silhouettes and sweeping gowns provide some of the clever contrasts of this bold brand that stretches across Womenswear, Kids and Swimwear collections. The shifts, blouses, twinsets, oversized collars and cuffs, expansive trousers, ruched gowns and even bigger bags shown for SS13 channelled a mod sixties vibe complete with clashing jigsaws of colour and space-age metallics.
Mary, ‘mother of print’ made her design aesthetic immediately recognisable from her first collection. Seasons on, her ability to turn a technically-magnificent frock into the well-constructed canvas for a plethora of prints including florals, brocades, gems and jewellery, idyllic interiors and perfume bottles, was not let down by her SS13 offering. Graphic postal stamp prints in every colour and origin told exotic stories of foreign shores, with the metal foiling of bank note impressions adding a slick, polished edge. The shapes were equally captivating - the neat collars, high halter necks, curved hems, flowing fabrics and ballooning sleeves were awe-inspiring in their own right.
Pop culture and flamboyant footwear collide when this cultish shoe designer is at work. In only a few seasons, the sharp edges, dainty ties and embellished soles of this eponymous shoe brand are near iconic. SS13 saw more game-changing experimentations with shape and texture, using abstract florals, fluorescent lace, pearl soles, tiled wedges and satin bows. Collaborations with Erdem, Peter Pilotto and Meadham Kirchhoff have already proven that the stiletto sage is in good company.
Sophisticated shapes and carefully engineered use of colour and print are signatures of this dynamic duo. Fit and flare, finely tailored trousers, hip-skimming dresses and ladylike pencil skirts have become part and parcel of the Peter Pilotto experience and were in full force for SS13. Kaleidoscopic colour and optical illusion were as always a central theme, inspired this time by ornate Florentine frescoes and sliced with clean geometry and stark striping. Fit for a queen but never taking itself too seriously, this brand is all about playful pomp with a wearable sporty side that would make it an apt choice for the top prize.
When Vogue describes a brand as ‘quintessential English style with a little sass’, one can only expect a certain level or refinement, spiked ever so slightly with a pop of unexpected colour or a neckline that plunges just short of risqué. SS13’s tea dresses, city short suits, flared skirts and structured ‘Jackie O’ numbers were perfectly in line with Wickstead’s elegantly effortless aesthetic. Peplums over matching cycling shorts, bright fluoro green and daring hemlines layered under the revealing slits of gathered skirts added a little daring to the demure debutante dress code. Pulling off the contrast with conviction while maintaining elegance is the greatest strength of this brand and what makes it versatile enough to walk a catwalk and live in the made-to-measure world of high society.
The countdown continues to see who will take this year’s coveted prize, the cash, the credit and the world domination that waits in the wings.