You can’t say London Fashion Week doesn’t treat us. Once again, a June spread has sandwiched the February and September shows, giving us a closer look at emerging, fast-rising designers working across menswear, womenswear and genderless fashion. Household names have made way for buzzy labels, ready to weave identity politics throughout their collections and make sure the runway never walks away from current issues.
One of those big issues we face is – you know – that whole thing about the planet getting destroyed. It’s why we’re stoked to see these designers engage with more sustainable practices, putting their hand to deadstock, upcycling, natural dyes, recycled materials and all the other things we love to wax lyrical about in our DROP EVERYTHING column. Here are the ones to catch up on.
Outdoor gear is on everyone’s minds (and backs) right now. Years ago you may have been mortified borrowing your Dad’s North Face jacket and Karimoor backpack; now, you mind find yourself being vox-popped by a local zine. Robyn Lynch walked the trail for her second LFW show, partnering with Columbia (the brand, not the country, obvs) to reconstruct their deadstock pieces and reactivate them with contrast panels, knitwear fronts, throw-on bags and deep, earthy tones.
The lead video sees her pieces matched with caves and coasts in rural Northern Ireland, backed by a pulsing stepper from techno-wizard Or:la. It’s elevated sportswear at its finest, showing there’s a lot more to activewear than technical trousers and plain puffers (and, no offence, your Dad’s North Face jacket and Karimoor backpack).
In our eco-driven era, Bethany Williams proves why she’s still the sustainable powerhouse, fuelled by recycled materials and humanitarian values. For LFW this year’s International Woolmark Prize finalist has once again teamed up with Magpie Project, a London-based charity supporting women and children under five at risk of homelessness.
The collection, in collaboration with painter Melisa Kitty Jarram, and ‘All Our Stories’ video, narrated by spoken-word poet Eno Mfon, tell a colour-filled tale of regaining the childlike gaze through our grown-up eyes. Inspired by cross-generational folklore, it takes us to a magical place, celebrating a forward-thinking community that plays around with fashion while prioritizing Mother Earth’s state of health. Abstract-painted dresses and flowy, geometrically contrasting corsets show Williams’ ability to expand beyond her signature heavier-style, patchwork pieces. Bethany Williams has been a bearer of environmental hopes for the fashion industry for several seasons. Today, she reminds us that the future is now.
It’s been a great week for Priya Ahluwalia, the mastermind breathing new life into deadstock materials. As well as winning the GQ Designer Menswear Fund, she debuted her ‘Parts of Me’ film, both a showcase of her SS22 collection and connected to her collaboration with Mulberry.
Drawing on old sketchbooks, vintage hair salon adverts and J.D. Okhai Ojeikere’s photographs, Ahluwalia pays homage to Black and Brown hair. Rising out of last year’s struggles, she proposes a joyful celebration of the tradition bred on modern soil. Her designs complement this attitude perfectly, composed with differently textured materials and introducing a toned-down colour palette. From two-piece elegantly constructed suits, streetwear influenced jackets to minimalistic dresses, the collection comes together in harmony. It’s a statement of resistance and an ode to identity-centred self-expression.
Mayya Agayeva (who, after her Masters at RCA is rather brilliantly MA MA) designs pieces cut from the same cloth as Helmut Lang or Jil Sanders: think monochrome, minimal fabrications with bold silhouettes. A first glance doesn’t do her SS22 collection justice: take a more discerning look, and you’ll uncover contrast stitching and rugged frayed hems, or the zips and chains suspended all-black jackets like industrial pull switches.
Pinstripe suits are finished with technical belts and everything is made from recycled, reclaimed materials, playfully contradicting the dystopian environments that inspire her collections. Everything’s as sharp and as perfectly cut as a Master Blacksmith’s cutlery drawer, and we’re already hungry for more.
Paolo Carzana couldn’t find what he fancied in this world so he created his own. The film for ‘Another World’, shot on his phone, introduced the handmade, genderless, collection he conceived while alone in his Cardiff studio. It’s what the Arthurian Lady of the Lake or Ophelia would wear if they’d suddenly been resurrected. Carzana’s fashion fairyland is like a secret gateway for neo-romantics, wanting to live in their subtle Victorian fantasies and not yet corrupted by the vices of modern society.
Flamboyantly draped fabrics, heart-shaped holes and fabulously messy headpieces caress models’ bodies, turning them into Shakespearian seraphims. Organic materials naturally dyed with strawberries, lavender, turmeric and madder root connect the silhouettes to nature (and make the pieces look good enough to eat). Paolo Carzana, reminiscing McQueen’s early years genius, is a Welsh visionary.