Being adaptable is necessary for survival and this trend is clearly reflected in the fashion world. However cliché this may sound, the real question is: what solutions does London Fashion Week offer to contemporary society? I only got a glimpse of what fashion is about this week, yet it was enough to start an avalanche of thoughts about the links connecting human nature, creativity and crisis.
Two days spent at LFW have seen stark contrasts between dull, reserved classics and explosions of untamed creativity. Monday was the dullest day of the week with Maria Grachvogel’s bleak collection at Covent Garden’s The Hospital Club, and Ana Sekularac’s motionless exposition of mummified models.
Tuesday was more turbulent, with shifts in the LFW schedule and overcrowded shows – but it was nonetheless the highlight of the fashion week for me. Meadham and Kirchhoff’s collection was androgynous and captivating, while Anna Bell’s flamboyant performance celebrated the rebellious side of the New Generation designers.
Grachvogel’s show was designed with a woman on sick leave in thoughtful mind. Tired monochromatic hues and static cuts were duplicating undefined silhouettes into more elaborate versions of themselves, culminating with a bow on the bum in splashes of black and white. I read in the press release about the ‘futuristic look’ and the ‘directional optimism’. If that’s optimism, I’m scared to think what ‘depressing’ means. As I was leaving, I was brooding on the location of the show at The Hospital – a rather appropriate venue for the anaemic models (uniform caps adding an ill appearance) and the atmosphere of overall passivity (a crisis in creativity?).
Yawning, I dragged myself to Ana Sekularac’s art exhibition at the Aicon Gallery, where in turn I was lulled with a glass of Champagne and a still life installation constructed of stick thin models. I wasn’t swept off my feet, though I admit the cut of dresses was brilliant- combining futuristic pads and gracefully draped creases apparently inspired by the likes of Le Corbusier. All in all, the collection was aimed at self-confident, successful women who like taking risks in fashion (and in life) and don’t give up easily.
The next day I saw a more unruly facet of catwalks. Emerging from Fashion East group, Meadham and Kirchhoff kept a consistent image throughout, giving a feminine edge to the masculine compositions of slightly ragged clothes, juxtaposing the classical palette with patches of gold embroidery and bold applications. With hardly any dresses in sight, the manly approach to women still convinced me, achieving what Grachvogel claimed to have done. A woman is strikingly noticeable among the clothes. Independent, mysterious and strong, she is a woman who faces the music and doesn’t compromise on her plan despite the obstacles. The kind of woman who will keep her head cool while the world is in panic.
Bora Aksu was overflowing with orange (VIP) ticket guests so, together with another hundred ‘unimportant’ people, I had to turn on the heel and leave. Acting on improvisation, I followed a fashionista called Shiny Sean to an alternative venue around the corner, and squeezed into Anna Bell’s show at the Vauxhall Fashion Scout: a statement of youthful vitality and imagination.
On arrival I was surrounded with colours and carefully sculptured hairdos. With kitsch pins and glasses, vibrant vintage skirts and funky boots, this was clearly an East End crowd, disrupting posh Chelsea with bold appearance and teasing styles. I stepped into this Anna-Bell’esque world of fairies, unconcerned about the surrounding reality, happily woofing and wagging long hair on the scene.
The show was an electric shock where from minute one I was transfixed with surreal visions, a throbbing mix of electrified dance, transvestite models, VS projections and puddles on stage. I watched a kaleidoscope of arty stuff, design and ’80s kitsch. Refreshingly different from what I’ve seen on catwalks during the whole week, it mesmerised me to finally see unleashed creative expression bordering on burlesque. Bright yellows and shimmering elastics, wigs and dog masks – this was a disco party straight from Boombox in Shoreditch, a feast for the eyes.
With a pulse matching the ravy music, I stormed-out filled with positive thoughts about the power of creativity in the struggle to beat the crisis. Perhaps fashion can bring some hope?