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by Alex Brzezicka

At LFW SS23, Leo Carlton prints sustainable talismans.

It’s beyond special when a place once familiar to you can be transformed into something out of this realm. Magical. Stepping into BFC Newgen Space on Saturday morning, the second day of London Fashion Week, felt like that. Suddenly off the street, we entered a world of subtle beauty ruled by human deities dressed in pearly, oddly shaped, pieces. Models, almost as if under a spell, performed their duties as Forager, Gardener, Creature and Dancer. The sorcerer of the spectacle watched from afar the embodiments of their ideologies of past, present and future.

Leo Carlton is a scholar of, set up by Alexander McQueen for young, visionary designers, Sarabande Foundation. Leo translates their ethereal concepts through VR sculpting and biomaterial 3D printing processes. Mainly using PLA, a renewable thermoplastic polymer, made from fermented plant starches, and Flax, bio-composite printing filaments. It’s an affair of modern and traditional solutions as all plaited ropework linking the sculpts has been learnt from Leo’s late grandfather, Stuart Grainger.

Leo’s designs emanate profound respect for Mother Nature and give her a symbiotic homage. From elaborate headpieces, and face and hair jewellery to various modular masks, Leo Carlton treats each of their models’ bodies as sacred, decorating them in a variety of printed ornaments. While the shapes might satisfy our newfound everything-otherworldly aliencore obsession, Leo’s work does more than that. It stands out. Celestial to the core, worthy of the royals, Carlton could style ancient priestesses about to engage in a bloody ritual. It doesn’t fall too far from their original mission as the designer calls pieces talismans, each bearing a drop of their spiritual energy, left behind through the process of creation.

Working in both digital and physical realms, Leo wanted to introduce us to both sides of their practice. They included a 3D printer in the presentation, creating a new piece for our eyes only. While the machine was left to itself, the models engaged in graceful slow dancing and meditating to the sounds of Tibetan singing bowls. Guided by the peaceful song and heavenly visuals, we eagerly left the worries of the harsh reality behind and melted into this beautifully bizarre neo-Atlantis. Don’t come looking for us. By now, we’d be long gone, lost in Leo’s daydreams.

Follow Leo Carlton on Instagram here and scroll down for a peek into their world from photographer Pesty Demon…

Gabriel Monteregge
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