LFW SS18 - 11 Emerging Designer Shows To Watch
London Fashion Week SS18 kicks off on Friday 15th September and this season sees another bumper crop of emerging design talent bursting onto catwalks and show spaces. From labels freshly formed by recent years’ graduates, to those beginning to gain some serious traction, it has never been more exciting to go where the up and coming design talent is. In addition to the Fashion Scout Ones to Watch and Merit Award Winner we've already covered, here are just a few of the emerging fashion designers to watch this season.
Birmingham graduate Rhys Ellis was a stand out favourite of ours at Graduate Fashion Week 2016. His innovative collection of textural dresses and structured pieces was crafted from 40,000 used Nespresso coffee pods. Yes, you heard that right coffee pods. Literally fashion from trash – a new lease of life for little pieces consumer debris that by 2020 will be a mountain. His SS17 graduate collection captured the tension between restriction and movement, arising not from detailed sketches but outline silhouettes and an appreciation of human forms. SS18 sees Rhys’ London Fashion Week debut in collaboration with designer Oliver Thomas Lipp – our invites arrived encased in black sand; dramatic, creative and just a tiny bit foreboding. The show on Tuesday 19th is one to watch.
Not the most underground label, given that it is already stocked on Matches, but nevertheless only a few seasons in, Halpern is one for unconventional glamour. The AW17 show was awash with sequins – drowning in them – and made Studio 54 style attire entirely desirable as every day wear. This is a theme continued from Michael Halpern’s CSM MA collection, although that was disco couture with an element of rough play – inspired not just by the beautiful bad taste of the 1970s but also the late 19th century sport of ‘horse diving,’ which saw leotard clad women tackling a 60ft drop on horseback into a swimming pool (and they say women are the weaker sex..). The multi coloured sequin polo neck is Halpern’s wardrobe basic so it’s highly likely that the SS18 collection will be another bold and epically glittering one.
Katie Ann McGuigan
Katie made her debut at Fashion Scout AW17 as the season’s Merit Award winner with a big, bold, feminine collection that was a colourful, textural dream. We loved it (can you tell). Vintage silhouettes contrasted with contemporary laser cuts and coloured vinyls, classic tweeds and futuristic digital prints in 80s shades of pink, blue and red. Katie explained the inspiration to us “the colour palette and many design references in the collection are drawn from the starkly captivating photographic work of Michal Chelbin, particularly her book Sailboats and Swans.” The melancholy, complex images in the book gave rise to a vibrant and multi layered collection of statement looks, heavy on print and texture. We can’t wait to see what this creative and coolly visionary designer does next.
It was the bunny shoes that first got us. All the way back in AW16, Clio produced a motel themed collection that came complete with slingback kitten heels with bunny faces – ears and all. The boudoir party was typical of a detailed and creative designer whose work explores aspects of modern day femininity – always with a sense of humour running through. Launched in 2015, the label is relatively new but already making a mark with colourful collections that are rich with embellishments and hand drawn prints and heavy on impact. We love the mission statement of the brand – to create “unique and positive clothes to make women feel happy, bold and fearless.”
Another former Merit Award winner, Han Wen returns to the Fashion Scout catwalks this season after a gangster inspired AW17 show, complete with Gotham style straight jackets. Easily one of the boldest and most creative talents we’ve seen in recent years, Han Wen has the knack of generating desire for pieces that in theory shouldn’t do it for you – dresses that barely hang together, which totally ignore accepted silhouettes and are brazenly bold. The New York based Chinese designer creates looks that sit right at the meeting point between art and fashion, bravely feminine and texture rich. Defiant, diverse, exciting and detailed, and always with the strong female at the centre, this is a label to prioritise in the SS18 schedule.
As you might have guessed from the name, Hellavagirl doesn’t do subtle. An AW17 collection that was “a post-apocalyptic inspired couture collection with dark undertones and a regal rock and roll edge” is the perfect illustration of a label that always goes bold. The SS18 collection is entitled ‘Human Meat Freaks’ and is inspired by a love of flesh, fetish and guilty pleasures, as well as genderless extravagance and non-conformist fashion. Hellavagirl is the work of London College of Fashion Graduate Helen Woollams, who launched the label in 2011 and never fails to deliver on drama and thoughtfully deliberate design. Given her penchant for epic silhouettes and unconventional fabrics and textures, the SS18 show should be high up on your watch list.
Artistic, creative and elegant, the pieces from up and coming designer Edeline Lee have a subtle way of challenging stereotypes and conventions. The AW17 collection – Future Lady – was inspired by Hannah Hoch, a Dadaist collage artist renowned for stacking shapes and embracing the witty mockery of materialism of the movement. The concurrent themes of female identity and historical context that drove the artist also provided the foundation for a fashion collection of precise silhouettes and paintbox colours that also poked a little fun. Former Central Saint Martins graduate Edeline has a love for the sophisticated signature and isn’t afraid to embrace less mainstream cultural references.
New York based Leaf Xia is a Parsons graduate and a designer with a great love for colour. Collage is the chosen mechanism of fashion delivery for collections that are unconventional and yet wearable, often outrageously oversized, and held together by clever bonding techniques. Fashion is much more than just wearables for this designer who has also ventured into the territory of the unconscious design experience and experimented with impacts. A history of intelligently outrageous aesthetics and ultra creative engineering makes us hope for great things from Leaf Xia SS18.
Swedish School of Textiles
Every year the Swedish School of Textiles blows our minds just a little bit more. Ultra creative innovation seems to have become the standard for this Borås institution, which has a slot for its students each season at Fashion Scout. From air filled tails to tribal prints, low-key casual shapes to incredibly flamboyant fabrics, the collections from the design school’s most talented students are often a lesson in how to push the boundaries of fashion design. We missed the show at Stockholm Fashion Week this season due to injury so we’re entirely in the dark – and so full of anticipation - as to what will come down the catwalk during the SS18 show.
Jamie Wei Huang
In “seeking self-expression through fabrication and materials,” former Central Saint Martins graduate Jamie Wei Huang is perfectly aligned with our own fashion values. Her creative designs look to explore the character of the modern woman, not via the language imposed by society, but in communication that can be understood. And we hear it. There’s nothing brash or overt about these designs – and yet they’re feminine, strong and have subtly serious sex appeal. Elongated shapes and challenging combinations of fabrics are themes for the label – look out for these style signatures at the SS18 show.
The Elephantasia show at Fashion Scout SS18 is a little different, not the work of a single designer but a collaboration between Fashion Scout and Fashion For Conservation that brings together 21 international talents who have worked on their own unique couture interpretations of “the elephant.” This is fashion + conservation in action, that sweet spot where the industry demonstrates its power as a force for good. The message is that consumer buying decisions matter and saying no to ivory, visiting ethical sanctuaries and making clothing purchases and donations that support critical conservation efforts can help ensure the survival of the elephant. The Elephantasia tour is now in its third year exhibiting and raising funds and awareness for the poaching crisis. It’s the perfect illustration of how fashion doesn't have to be cruel to be cool.