LONDON: UNPACKING SPRING/SUMMER 2018
Photography Jessie Laitinen
@ Mink Management
On Sunday night I swayed in front of Henri Rousseau's Tiger in a Tropical Storm and tried to recall the lines of the William Blake poem I associate it with so closely. I wasn't being lashed by storm winds but by the bergamot negronis generously provided by COS in celebration of their tenth anniversary during a party held at the National Gallery. Despite (or perhaps thanks to) the gin it struck me that the animal poised on it's haunches is a fitting emblem for the fashion week attendee; powerful and exquisitely garbed, but as equally likely to die of exposure (figuratively at least) if she doesn't find prey and eventual shelter from the maelstrom blowing all around her. It was also a question many designers seemed to examine this season – how to proceed most tygerly, amid these figurative forests of the night?
Sanctuary was a major theme at JW Anderson. His palette of leathers, dishcloth style monogrammed linen, curtain stripe cotton and simple rib stitch knits did indeed summon the well-equipped haven, albeit more of a rustic bijoux bed and breakfast than any Holiday Inn.
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At Molly Goddard a sense of centre appeared to come from within, as Edie Campbell slopped down the runway in boots with a glass of Char' in one hand and an e-cig in the other. Goddard's signature fairytale froth was simmered down for SS18 to offer a more wearable roster of looks that threw out her bias for tulle in favour of dense cottons, sequins and lustrous sport taffetas. The message was simple: cheers; don’t worry aboudddit.
Faustine Steinmetz presented a similarly relaxed jubilance across reworked staples, showing off her prowess for inventively shredded cotton with silk accents, paint daubed separates and a riff on the 00s monogrammed it-bag in a narrow palette of blue, creamy white and beige.
Antidotes to all this serenity came from the riotous fusion of stripes, gingham, brocade and cow hide over at Marques' Almeida, some Saturday night flash at Halpern and Topshop Unique and the stellar cultural blends of tomorrow's talent at Fashion East with strong collections from Supriya Lele, Asai and Matty Bovan. Off-schedule treats included a wistful debut presentation from Alistair James of nine Swarovski encrusted pre-Raphaelite beauties framed by garlands of scavenged flowers at the Fitzrovia Chapel and the sputter of greased jet engines at an enterprising performance held in an east end garage by recent RCA graduate Timothy Bouyez-Forge.
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To return to this image of Rousseau's beast in the squall, the current season's crop of designers appeared to make one of three choices: ignore the storm, embrace it or escape and transcend. In the past my own path has tended towards escapist fantasy but in the case of this fashion week at least, I'm glad I saw it through.
Jessie Laitinen @ Mink Management