By Cristina Boydell
Photography by Cristina Boydell and courtesy of Issa London
Another February means another season of runway shows at London Fashion Week. I was thrilled to join the fashion packs again for a week that puts a spotlight on London and some of the greatest designers in the world.
At FAJO, we were able to check out the hottest designers in the U.K., such as Phoebe English and Ekaterina Kukhareva in Freemasons’ Hall and established brands like Issa London at Somerset House. I attended cool events, such as the Avenue 32 London Fashion Week party at the Grosvenor House penthouse suite, Cristina Sabaiduc’s digital presentation, Heohwan Simulation and Another Austria’s press showcases and the Dominic Jones jewelry display at the ME luxury hotel in Central London.
My first event of LFW was at the chic Avenue 32. The luxury e-tailer may not have touched down in Canada yet, but it is rapidly growing here in the U.K. Avenue 32 features a collection of international, emerging talent and established brands. They are unique because Erin Mullaney (fashion brand director) and Roberta Benteler (founder) created the site to offer something different and personable to their customers through collaborations with designers. Many emerging designers choose to stock exclusively with the online retailer, who gives each designer the opportunity to have their own, unique online shop, featuring their own imagery and videos. I was able to meet with Erin, Roberta and Susan Hewlett (head of marketing and PR), while sipping on champagne, nibbling on canapés and browsing emerging womenswear designers, such as SVEK by Swedish designer Bahar Alipour and Brazilian-American designer Alexander Lewis. SVEK’s collection featured sophisticated, wearable quality pieces with distinct cuts, while Alexander Lewis’ Resort 2013 collection focused on effortlessly cool tailoring, details and traditional knits and crochets. Lewis told me that he is always influenced by travel, culture, music, interiors and his foundation in menswear; his latest collection is inspired by his ski holidays in Aspen.
One of my London Fashion Week highlights is always the Issa London show on Saturday evening, which I’ve attended for the last two years since moving to London. This year did not disappoint! I knew it was off to a good start when the top model of the moment, Cara Delevingne, opened the show wearing a fedora hat and an Aztec flowing maxi dress. The rest of Daniella Helayel’s runway show hosted ’70s silhouettes, long hemlines, geometric prints, earthy tones and autumnal browns, along with her brand’s signature shimmering evening gowns. The Issa London look was more boho-cool and chic this season, meaning effortless looks that I am always on board with!
The showcases and press events are always good to pop into while making your way to another LFW runway show or event. Heohwan Simulation showed clean lines with good structure and lots of black and white colouring, while the Another Austria press view exhibition in Knightsbridge included hand-painted trench coats. Dominic Jones, who is best known for his cult tooth-and-nail jewelry designs and who was famously launched into the limelight by celebrity fan Rihanna, had a glamorous show at the ME hotel.
You can always expect something creative and artsy from Canadian designer Cristina Sabaiduc, whose London Fashion Week show we first saw in 2012. I attended her a/w 2013 digital presentation in the Portico Rooms after scoping out the street style at the Somerset House courtyard. It was a drop-in event with a film screening throughout, live fashion illustration and Sabaiduc’s signature print silks on display by models walking around the room.
It was great to see all the young designers’ a/w 2013 shows in Freemasons’ Hall. One of the unique fashion show displays and set-ups was Phoebe English, which had a wooden structure that models walked underneath, accompanied by a dark and edgy track. Phoebe’s latest collection paid attention to precision, unfinished constructions and textiles. Her focus was on the surface of these garments and on layers of fabrics: linen, sheer and fringe in neutrals, white, black and blue hues. Black headbands covered the models’ foreheads and eyes. They wore black-fringed wedges and their lips were a neutral skin tone to emphasize Phoebe’s garments. I was instantly transfixed when the show began, mesmerized by Phoebe’s creativity.
The Ekaterina Kukhareva a/w 2013/2014 Salon Show used her signature knitted and woolen fabrics in bright reds and vivid fuchsia prints, which hugged and complemented female curves in all the right places. She accentuated the body through light, knitted Lurex mini-dresses, narrow-leg trousers and knee- and floor-length body cons. Key elements that complemented the clothing were the accessories for the show. They were designed by Lara Jensen (Harold Tillman Scholarship Winner), whose clients include Lady Gaga, Karl Lagerfeld and The Rolling Stones. The hairpieces, which were made up of bejewelled curlers, gave a retro housewife look to Ekaterina’s ’70s-inspired psychedelic prints.
While waiting outside for Kukhareva’s show, amidst other fashion journalists, editors, bloggers and budding fashionistas, I was in the background of a scene for a London reality show. Made in Chelsea is the London version of The Hills and follows the lives of an elite pack of friends who live off the prestigious King’s Road, South London. I spotted key “posh” characters Mark Francis, Victoria and Rosie entering Freemasons’ Hall to attend the show!
Overall, London Fashion Week was jam-packed and fast-paced. There are always too many events and too little time!