LONDON, United Kingdom — Craig Green, Charles Jeffrey and Grace Wales Bonner, arguably London’s holy trinity of catwalk designers, are all graduates of MAN, the menswear equivalent of Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East, and this season, the sense of prodigy was still very much in the air as Rottingdean Bazaar, Art School and Per Götesson made a case for their novice brands.
Götesson said that his work always centres on his own wardrobe, which he added allows him to be intuitive, and that this season he wanted to present something more mature than he had previously. It manifested itself in exaggerated denim silhouettes that were hugely proportioned and then gathered by belts cleverly looped throughout. Most of the garments were turned inside out for the look of an exposed construction, and worn over lattice string vests and with crisp cotton smock tops and sweeping denim overcoats.
Tom Barratt, one half of the duo behind Art School, walked in his own show, dressed in a scarlet bias-cut velvet dress with a full face of rouge and a Gilda-like wig. Well, it was more Vogueing than walking, but it summed up the essence of this label’s ethos — the clothes come from the characters, and the characters are colourful to say the least.
The collection came to life through the diverse casting of Barratt and his partner Eden Loweth's circle of gender-fluid friends. It was all crystal-strewn, courtesy of Swarovski, and even featured rhinestone 'Art School' branding, which is indicative of the double-aughts era during which these boys came of age. Gowns and gowns, velvet dresses over white shirts, funky tailoring, mismatched shoes, were all designed with dramatic flair, and the show was certainly uplifting because of it, however at times the clothes felt like costumes for the characters who were designed for. Let's hope that the clothes will speak for themselves on the rails of a showroom.
James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks, another creative duo that is behind Rottingdean Bazaar, have a great sense of humour and playfulness that lends their kooky clothes a sense of gravitas. They are both interested in using archetypal objects, however mundane they may be, and although the styling may not look at all serious and the clothes look like they're simply embellished with everyday objects they are in fact cleverly considered and made with plenty of craft. The penny coins, pieces of pasta and household tools for example were all moulded from flexible polyurethane foam for a trompe-l'œil effect. It's incredible how light that makes one of their cotton jersey sweatshirts with hundreds of coppers, especially considering how real the objects look. It was also the duo's first catwalk show, and their variation on a singular theme was a strong and memorable statement — it was garden shed chic, with a brilliant sense of British wit.