London Fashion Week is back!
The four-day schedule kicks off tomorrow with a mixture of IRL catwalk shows, presentations and digital activations. Several of the city’s big names have decided not to host runway shows this time around (among them Burberry, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane and Emilia Wickstead) but the medium-sized players — including Molly Goddard, Halpern and 16Arlington — are ready to roll out some runway fabulousness once again following a temporary fashion week hiatus.
The upside of London’s sartorial big dogs abstaining from shows is evidently an opportunity for fledgling fashion names, as this season several cool young designers are joining the schedule for the first time.
Here are three new names to know.
Covid might have meant that CSM alum Conner Ives’s graduate collection didn’t make it to the catwalk last summer but in truth the Tottenham-based American designer, who had a job at Rihanna’s brand Fenty while a student and dressed Adowa Aboah for the 2017 Met Gala, didn’t desperately need the exposure. Fast forward six months from the launch of his eponymous brand and the fashion wunderkid will make his LFW debut on Friday as part of the BFC Newgen programme with his first ever catwalk show. “It feels like an arrival,” he explains. “I mean like I’m 25 and I’ve probably dreamed of my first show since I was five years old, so for me it almost feels 20 years overdue.”
An upcycling king who crafts all his pieces from deadstock and vintage fabrics, Ives found fame with a line of patchwork T-shirt dresses that were snapped up by Net-a-Porter and Browns, who couldn’t keep them in stock. In an effort to minimise waste and avoid burnout, Ives will only produce one collection a year, and his vision for AW22 builds on the themes of archetypal American women that he explored in his last collection. “I tried to go a bit more mellow with it this time,” he says. “So you have the middle schooler... plus America’s Next Top Model and the Jersey girl.”
While the earth-friendly nature of Ives’s practice carries a serious message, he believes there should always be a “sense of lightness” to fashion, and his show, which will feature 27 colourful upcycled creations spanning everything from t-shirts to demi-couture, is set to deliver on that promise with a Nineties-inspired catwalk “with girls who know how to walk with hips and really throw themselves around”. “I hate designers that take what they do so seriously. At the end of the day we are making clothes… It should be fun!” The question is, will Rihanna be sitting front row?
What do Dua Lipa, Rita Ora and Selena Gomez all have in common? Aside from their dewy complexions, dulcet tones and small personal fortunes, they are all mega fans of London label Poster Girl, set to make its LFW debut tomorrow. Best friends and CSM alum Francesca Capper (who trained at Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander Wang) and Natasha Somerville (who cut her teeth at Galliano, Scott and Bvlgari) launched the brand in 2017 and swiftly achieved a cult Instagram following. But it was the candy coloured shapewear collection of bodycon mini dresses with unexpected cutout details they debuted over lockdown that really put Poster Girl on the map.
“We wanted to make something that hadn’t ever been seen before,” says Somerville of the fabric that stretches from a size six to 18. “It really suctions you in in all the right places, and then releases your curves.” Dua Lipa, who chose a hot pink number to wear on the cover of her album Future Nostalgia, certainly agreed. The pair didn’t know it was going to happen, nor did they know Kylie Jenner was going to wear one of their dresses. “We were both screaming down the phone at each other,” says Capper. For their London debut, they are focused on establishing themselves as serious designers. “It feels like an important moment for us to show the world what we can do,” says Somerville.
Hackney-born menswear designer Saul Nash is not new to the LFW schedule, but he is without doubt one of the weekend’s most exciting young names. The choreographer and 2021 LVMH prize semi-finalist made his solo runway debut last season with an SS22 show themed around his memories of going to school in London. He’s set to open LFW again this season with a choreo-heavy catwalk and this time he’s planning for an “extra layer” on proceedings. “In the uncertainty of whether we were going to return to live events or not, we’ve created something additional this season,” he explains.
Nash’s considered designs bridge the gap between sportswear and luxury menswear, fusing technical fabrics and zippers with flowing silhouettes to create versatile pieces designed to move in. He’s currently also a Woolmark Prize finalist, which means he’s begun playing with wool in the construction of his activewear. “Wool has anti-bacterial properties, so I’ve been exploring what that means in creating a garment that almost ventilates the body,” says Nash. “It’s exciting to use a material that can degrade on its own.” If you’re looking for cleverly constructed high-tech activewear that looks equally at home on the pavement as it does the pitch, Nash is not to be missed.