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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

#LFW: Faustine Steinmetz Denim Mermaids

Faustine Steinmetz is a relatively new fashion label. The designer studied both in Paris and London, then worked with Jeremy Scott and Henrik Vibskov before launching on her own. Her Spring 2017 presentation was a study in different ways you can create crafted denim masterpieces.

When you know a designer is going to do a presentation as opposed to a runway show; it usually isn't that eventful. London Fashion Week has proven me wrong. Steinmetz had her models reclined in giant cubbyholes in the walls, lit with blue light. The effect was like seeing an exhibit of living mermaids in their aquarium. The models' faces were made up in various shades of unearthly blue with body glitter over all different body parts.

The clothing itself had tailored dark indigo denim separates, printed jackets, hand woven, dyed ombre piece. There were embroidered pieces or fringed. The entire collection served to make you think of denim differently.

To add to the captured mermaid theme, some models wore jewelry and shoes that looked like they were embedded into rock with quartz crystals jutting out of it. These were clearly more for styling and artistic expression than for practical wearing, but they were striking nonetheless.

This presentation was at the Old Spitalfields Market, a historical market dating back to the 1880s. It now houses designer boutiques, vintage flea market, indie designer pop-ups and gourmet food stalls in East London. This venue was also home to the up-and-coming fashion designers of London Fashion Week. It seemed to be the British equivalent of the Milk Studios space at NYFW.

Congratulations Faustine Steinmetz on your innovative exhibit. You managed to make me rethink both the fashion presentation format AND denim as a fashion category at the same time. Good luck!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#LFW: Mary Katrantzou Spring 2017

Do you want to see color? Mary Katrantzou has more color on her spring 2017 runway than any collection I have shot this year. The designer is known for her spectacular prints. For this season, her intricate prints took on psychedelic patterns, geometric shapes and the wild colors of the 1960s. It looked like my fantasy of London of that era, nostalgic for my Dad's memories of the city at that time during his school days.

The spiraling, twisting patterns not only were printed but were layered and embroidered to create a three-dimensional quality to the look. There were acrylic and mirror bottoms and tops that were made of linked pieces cut to match the shapes of the fabric prints, reminding me of vintage Paco Rabanne pieces.

There were long, skinny pants, short skirts with A-line or fishtail hems. Singular statement frocks found their sister outfit in long belted skirt and sweater combos. The 1960's "Mod" theme was also accompanied by the theme of Grecian or Minoan Goddesses. The human imagery depicted artwork of people in ancient times with a color palette for 2016. Ladies could be bathing or a battle scene decorated the lower half of a blazer. Oversized birds were embroidered onto tops.

The clutch handbags on this runway were just as interesting. Each Lucite clutch was stylized into a letter of the alphabet. At first glance, the letter may not have been obvious, like the "t" bag which had a profile of an alphabet letter but looked like a marbled surface purse from the sides. Other bags looked like signage.

Whether you are a textile designer, crafter or stylist, you could find a lot of inspiration at this show. Mary Katrantzou works her magic on the loud, beautiful pieces of her Spring 2017 collection. She brought back Britain's Swinging sixties. I love that every person I met at London Fashion Week LFW looks like they would fit right in. I hope to see much more of Mary as the seasons go by.
All photos by Mariana Leung

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Monday, September 19, 2016

#LFW: Gareth Pugh Spring 2017

Exceptional fashion is operatic. Designer Gareth Pugh has combined them both. He designed 60 of the costumes of the recently debuted Eliogabalo in Paris for the Venice Carnival Festival. Written by Francesco Cavalli, the opera tells the story of a tyrannical child emperor who declared himself the Sun God. Aside from the costume work, the production inspired much of Pugh's Spring 2017 collection. "He's an agent of chaos, a crowded anarchist, emerging amid a climate of greed and narcissism. It's essentially about an empire eating itself - which felt alarmingly relevant." With the American political climate the way that it is, you would think he was talking about our election.

How did this muse influence the fashion collection specifically? The first group of looks consisted of dramatic silhouettes around a gold and black sun. The black sun represented a gaping void as a reference to Francis Bacon's Innocent X. According to Pugh, it was the "ultimate symbol of insatiable hunger and consumption". The beautiful gold mosaic embellishments symbolize the fractured idea of wealth and chaos.

The second group makes way for the most commercial looks of the show. Monochromatic  purple, white and black looks were draped and twisted beautifully onto the body. The effect was like a contemporary Goddess. It was relaxed and flowing. I would be happy to fill my entire close with these looks.

The third group saw the gold and black sun evolve into an earthy sunburst. The graphic pattern now stood for the idea of renewal, mysticism, and fertility. The silhouettes here were cocoon-like as opposed to the rigid, structured shapes of the gold mosaic group. The sun's rays worked its way into a stripe on some of the looks.

The Gareth Pugh Spring 2017 was one of the shows I was most looking forward to when I knew I would travel to London. I didn't know if I would see human harnesses, intellectual Goth or a cocktail dress made of straws. I just knew it would be impressive and unexpected. I am happy to say I was not disappointed.
All photos by Mariana Leung

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The Tutu Project
Exclusive Interview with Costume Designer Colleen Atwood
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Sunday, September 18, 2016

#LFW: Julien Macdonald Spring 2017

julien macdonald
Yesss, this is why I came to London Fashion Week. Bold, British Punk. The Julien Macdonald runway show gave me all of the studs, spikes, metal chains and hardware I could wish for. Hailey Baldwin opened and closed the show with her signature strut down a giant gymnasium.

Models' limbs were greased up to show off super long legs and muscled arms. Men were styled with open shirts and jackets. Pants were tight to show off their physique. Military jackets were paired with the shortest of shorts. Beautifully beaded sheer dresses could have beaded or metal chain fringe. Shirts, jackets, and dresses could act as metal all on their own from their embellishment.

Since New York has lost most of its Rock n' Roll vibe, I was very happy to see it here. The guests themselves added to the atmosphere. Equally edgy celebs like singer Elle Eyre and Empire's Serayah were in attendance with model Abbey Clancy along with eccentric characters hoping for street style recognition.

Thank you Julien Macdonald, your runway show brought some punk back into my life!
All photos by Mariana Leung

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Blogger Love: September Issues and NYFW

Gee, it is September. What could independent fashion bloggers be writing about this week? Many of us picked our favorite (or infamous) shows from NYFW. Others talked about shopping and back to school style. Some bloggers talked about what they loved from their favorite September issues of magazines. 
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#LFW: Ryan Lo Spring 2017

I landed in London. Unfortunately, my luggage, camera gear and clothing did not. I am not even able to refresh in my hotel room yet. Luckily, London Fashion Week will have me and the fanciful collection of Ryan Lo brightened up my day with this candy colored collection. I apologize for the subpar photos as I was only armed with my phone today.

The soundrack included everything from Disney's Aladdin to The Bangle's Walk Like An Egyption. The runway was decorated with extra-long metallic streamers. The models were styled like wide eyed dolls. The designer drew upon exotic locales, Venetian clowsn, genies and Japanese chilhood character Chibi Maruko Chan. 

Ryan Lo is known for lots of ruffles and super girly looks. There was a harem pant or two thrown in. I think I am obsessed with the adorable teapot print that was used in the fabric. I can't think of anything that screams London more than that. The feathered tricorn hats struck a dramatic look on the runway paired with the model's doll-like makeup. These hats were a collaboration with milliner Stephen Jones for a romantic pirate vibe.

The little bags of Turkish delight left as treats on the seats of the fashion show lined what the designer called his "anime desert runway". He dedicated the collection to late fashion hero Sonia Rykiel. 

Happy London Fashion Week and congratulations Ryan Lo on your Sprint 2017 show. Your collection brought a smile to my face like nothing else today. 
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