London Fashion Week: Backstage with Mariana Jungmann

When Mariana Jungmann’s SS15 catwalk appeared on the cover of The Times recently, it confirmed what those of us who recently attended her show already knew: this designer is going places. And fast.

Packing into Freemasons’ Hall to watch the Brazilian native’s second foray into London Fashion Week, I was mesmerised by the sound of waves, lapping against rocks on the beach and a heady mixture of sandalwood hanging in the air—a level of dedication to a theme that lasted right up until the very end.

The under-the-sea odyssey took inspiration from ‘Yemanja’, the goddess of the ocean herself,  as well as the strong women who Mariana designs for, sending mermaids disguised as models down the catwalk and a collection of laser-cut leather, ladylike Renaissance lace and badass men’s tailoring.

Thrilling with details including coral and conch shell clutches, silver anemone knuckleduster rings, scarily long talon nails, heels entwined in underwater foliage, Mohawk headbands with jewels and bad girl spikes atop long, ice blonde fishtail plaits and some seriously, seriously  blinged-up sunglasses.

Not to mention the makeup—which needs its own feature really—and involved a collaboration with Face Lace founder Phyllis Cohen who designed pearlescent foil makeup appliqués to perfectly complement Marianna’s patterns.

Just moments before, I had spoken to Mariana backstage about her inspiration, her ‘match made in heaven’ collaboration with Face Lace and her favourite frock—a lacy, revealing showstopper number which was one hundred per cent handmade and which took a whopping three months to make.

‘This was a gift from Yemanja, the goddess that in part inspired my collection,’ Mariana says warmly of her collaboration with Phyllis Cohen; the makeup genius behind Face Lace.

‘Phyllis has this kind of mother aura around her and a sensibility that is quite unique. She was able to see my lace, see my patterns and translate it into something so delicate. It’s unbelievable.’

The patterns, a combination of her signature Renaissance lace characterised by geometric and floral shapes, were reinvented by the London College of Fashion grad, who not only used traditional methods of lace making but also top-of-the-line technology, print and laser cutting.

Explaining how her latest collection came about, Mariana says: ‘The woman I design for is a strong woman, but just because you’re strong doesn’t mean you don’t have a softer side.’

In terms of colour palette, the baby blue represents the beach and the ocean, the white represents sand, moss and stones. She also developed an exclusive shade of grey, which is meant to reflect the rocks on the beach.

When I ask Mariana about her favourite piece in the collection, she reaches instantly for the most elaborate dress on the rack; a beautifully intricate frock made entirely out of her famous Renaissance lace but incorporating a very modern twist—a hoodie.

The show begins quite prim and ladylike—baby doll dresses and big full skirts, with geometric lace printed on to white sleeved tops—followed by strong, crisp menswear tailoring, fluid slacks and jumpsuits, metallic turquoise playsuits with cut-outs in shapes of shells across the neckline and thighs.

But as the show went on—and I don’t think this was just my imagination—the clothes got lighter and lighter, mirroring the gradual evolution of women in all of their paradoxes.

Less prim and more badass; more brave. The layers were coming off one piece at a time, until finally, bare skin peeked out from under laser-cut lace patterns, jackets were worn open with nothing underneath and peek-a-boo lace showed more than it covered.

Finally, the genius herself appeared on the catwalk, followed closely by her last and favourite piece in the collection. The showstopper. The cameras went crazy.

Not for the wallflower or faint of heart, the brown, sheer-lace dress was worn proudly by a model with absolutely nothing underneath save for some skin-coloured knickers, rocking the masterpiece with sunglasses and slinky hoodie up. Rihanna herself would have been proud.

It has to be one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen from a Fashion Scout London Fashion Week show. I predict very big things for Mariana Jungmann. Don’t forget; you heard it here first.

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