For A/W17 Phoebe explored themes of tyranny, fear, apathy, voice, courage, unity, repair and ultimately hope. Through the instigation of this collection of characters, a narrative was spun and played out in the beautiful Fitzrovia Chapel. Phoebe wanted to present women as symbols of strength and resilience, our ‘heroines’ glorify a resistance. The models were adorned with decorative crowns and strewn with flora.
“My collections often stem from abstract origins such as a particular type of process or a feeling; this method aims to infuse my work with a conceptual aesthetic, offering luxury through idea”
English’s previous SS17 collection was a political one representing each day leading up to Brexit – which left no guess to her views on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Autumn Winter 17 took a similar route, using what is going in current affair around the world – Trump becoming US President, feminism etc – to create a unique and imaginative collection. This season was all about women, power and perseverance and wishing to portray and celebrate unity over division and was explored throughout colour symbolism and an accumulation of textures and textiles.
Key fabrics in the collection included trapped golden woven sequins, velvet, silks, tulle, boucle wools and shirting cottons – within this collection Phoebe also presented pieces from her third collaboration with births knit wear heritage brand John Smedley – twisted draped knit piece were presented in both silk and felted merino. The basket weave inspired textiles for the collection which were trapped inside layers of tulle stood out to me immensely in the collection – they were incorporated within jackets and also varying sizes of bags.
This conversation between tyranny and unity aimed to explore both the fragility and the strength of our times, though the use of sheer fabrics we implement bold silhouettes which juxtapose with the delicate forms portraying our fragility. There was no denying the strength throughout the whole collection nor the message it was trying to portray and the inspiration in which it came.
This collection was one of many this season that held political statements about the worlds current affairs – and currently things are a bit shit at the moment lets be honest – and the designers opinion’s on this coming through heavily whether it be through the clothing, music choice or inspiration for the overall collection. I feel like this is a really important and influential time in fashion where designers are using their public profile and creative platform to the upmost – more of this please!
Me. You. Them. Us
No man has ever looked as sharp while doing their household chores.
So I recently finished a three month studio internship at Phoebe English where I got to experience so many different sides of the fashion industry – in the studio, backstage and at both AW17 menswear, which I’m going to be writing about today, and womenswear shows at London Fashion Week which I’ll be writing another blog post on as they each one had such different atmospheres, inspirations and context. Overall it was an amazing experience for me and I think that gaining that vital experience is key to progress and succeed within the industry and putting what you have learnt throughout University and adding to these key skills is essential.
Throughout the internship I worked on lots of different areas within the studio – working on patterns, cutting toiles and final garments out – and it was great to finally see all the separate pieces come together slowly and finally at the show, as well as seeing phoebe’s design process and work closely with her and the rest of the studio team on both the AW17 collections. I also got to work on tech packs for the AW17 MAN collection, visit factories and PR, work on production pieces for shops and develop textiles for the womenswear collection. It was great to develop and apply my skills from university in an industry environment as well as gaining knowledge on how a studio runs and the business side of fashion which is extremely important.
Phoebe was inspired by all “the creative men” in her life and this inspiration also saw a union of romanticism and pragmatism. The key focus of the AW17 collection was practicality, displaying a range of utilitarian pieces with a relaxed and casual aesthetic. Soft lined bombers, loose fitting striped shirts and casually tailored trousers alongside longline shirts and outerwear pieces. The fabrics ranged from dusty velvets, waxed coated cottons and corduroy – the double layered bomber and matching jogger trouser in black corduroy was one of my favourite outfits from the whole collection. The adjustable bags and backpacks and the addition of joggers bought a comfortable sporty edge but with a luxe feel because of the use of fabrics and colour palette. The other stand out pieces for me personally in the collection were the navy waxed cotton coat, hooded tunic jacket and striped longline belted shirt.
The key colours of Phoebe English MAN AW17 ranged from charcoal and military dark green to subtle tones of navy which were all paired with elements of off white to retain aspects of versatility, crispness and break up the textures of the fabrics and tie the whole collection together. With the use of tradition colours it allowed experimentation of creative cuts and clever use of fabrics offered in layered outfits – being complex in its technique with interesting pleats and lines throughout.
The show was an amazing visual spectacle with the set and props being key to setting the mood – the models went through reptile motions of different domestic chores – sweeping pegs, ironing and folding sheets and hanging socks in an endless rotation matching the trip hop beat in the background – this brought a comic surreal reality to the presentation – the fact that all the models were in movement reflects the brand ethos whilst underlying the practicality of the garments – who knew household chores could look and be so fashionable?
Can textile waste be eliminated from the Fashion Industry?
The fashion industry is one of the main causes of textiles waste in the world. Designers and brands are becoming much more aware of this factor and have in turn become more conscious when designing their collection from the cut, silhouetted to the fabric and dyes that they use. ‘Zero waste designs’ are becoming a much more popular option because of their elimination of textile waste and the innovative use of patterns and silhouettes.
The British designer Christopher Raeburn became known for his re appropriation of military fabrics and his iconic outerwear pieces created from de commissioned parachutes. His ‘re made’ ethos still guides and influences every aspect of his design process. His pioneering work has brought sustainable design to main stream fashion whilst still presenting a definition of luxury with integrity. I love Raeburn’s outlook on sustainable fashion, the idea of giving new life to old things, and working with fabrics that you wouldn’t always be able to buy on a roll – it makes designing and creating garments exciting and much more experimental whilst also challenging and pushing your design aesthetic and creativity.
“Remade is about completely deconstructing and then reworking an original garment. I started out working in this way, using upcycled fabrics, with my graduate collection almost seven years ago. At the time, very few people understood the idea of remaking things completely, but it totally fascinated me, and continues to. Taking an oversized, badly cut and not particularly flattering menswear military garment and completely reworking it into a womenswear bomber jacket excites me.” Christopher Raeburn, Another Interview
Adopting a zero waste approach appears to be the best way to reduce textile waste and the demand for natural resources, as currently fifteen percent of textiles currently end up on the cutting room floor although the process takes time and effort to produce designs that produced no waste. The fact that there is a possibility that designs and silhouettes will become simpler meaning more draping and knitting would most likely have to be used to make a design more interesting.
Zero Waste fashion to me feels like a step in the right direction for the fashion industry but only if designers as well as retailers start adopting the different techniques needed to stop producing wastage. The only factor that seems to be stopping zero waste becoming widespread is the extra time and effort needed to be inventive and experimental throughout the whole design process.
Would love to hear all your thoughts on zero waste fashion and other innovative ways designers can reduce waste and excess pollution without losing their design aesthetic.
My graduate collection consisted of 6 menswear outfits which were heavily inspired by hoarding, the everyday and the comfort that hoarders find in collecting objects and possessions.
I created vinyl prints inspired by the hoarding of household objects such as tea towels and cleaning cloths, elevating these humble items into a modern plaid which featured on shirts, wide shorts and outerwear. I also used the tea towels in their raw form to add elements of texture and comfort to the collection. I’ve always loved developing new techniques of fabrication to update fabrics and give a more modern look whilst juxtaposing this with older sewing techniques such as embroidery and patchwork.
I always do lots of development work and stand work inspired by my concept imagery – I love using collage throughout this process to try and exhaust one base idea into 10 or more highly developed and though through ideas.
My work and concepts are highly influenced by artists and photographers as I’ve always been drawn to people who convey and capture emotions and moods – and they also provide great colour and print inspiration.
After my collection was shown at GFW I was also featured in Vogue Italia’s Emerging Designers, various blogs as well as Debut Magazine which were all amazing exposure and experience which gave me extra confidence to pursue my MA at Kingston University this September.
You can see more of my work, other university projects and inspirations on my Instagram @sophiealiciabaileymenswear and my arts thread profile http://www.artsthread.com/profile/sophiebailey
Are Feminine Silhouettes the Future of Mens Fashion?
Designers are increasingly morphing and blurring the lines between males and females. In the silhouettes, cut and fabrics they use. Fashion design giants including Vivienne Westwood, Burberry and Jean Paul Gaultier have all designed skirts for men in a way to push boundaries and explore ideas. The fashion industry in itself has to be exciting and constantly developing new concepts and silhouettes.
Men’s Fashion Week in London saw much controversy over the garments that designers chose to show on the catwalk, particularly JW Anderson. His Autumn Winter 13 collection was dominated by feminine inspired shorts, shift dresses and shell tops in colours of camel, navy and baby blue. Although the collection itself caused controversy in what the models were actually wearing the fabrics; sponge,rubberised cotton and duffel are not controversial textures. Duffle in particular is an extremely traditional and classic fabric to use within menswear. The reaction to Anderson’s collection was immense and the controversy that it caused meant it was shown around the world on news stations including CNN and BBC News.
“Examination of bourgeois kinkiness and boudoir perversity” was how Anderson summed up the collection in his show notes. The fact that sexual and revealing clothing can be shown in womenswear and not mens shows the naivety and uneasy feeling that people still have towards men being dressed in a sexual way. The idea of men wearing clothing like this is just that, ’an idea’, it is presenting a possibility for people and consumers to digest and distil in their own personal way. This ‘idea’ will be filtered down throughout the levels of fashion from designer to high street. Another reason why people may have felt uneasy about the collection was that all the male models looked and felt like they were comfortable in what each of them where wearing.
Personally the aspect that I focus on is the technical and precision of all the garments; with the neckline being developed through stapling and the darts being brought towards the front of the garment so the back hovered, like suspended architecture. Jacket blocks were reversed so that the shoulders sat forward creating a smooth, sculptural line. I feel that all these elements were overshadowed by the reaction to the pieces being shown in menswear. JW Anderson is known for bringing over concepts from season to season and from womenswear to mens. This collection was in the end a development and evolutional structure from his previous resort collection.
Meadham Kirchhoff designing 80 piece Topshop collection
Prepare to be swept away in a whirlwind of rainbow colours and glitter as Meadham Kirchhoff have unveiled their latest collection for Topshop featuring 80 bright and whimsical pieces consisting of not just separates but accessories, jewellery and shoes. Understated it is not. ‘We wanted to do them proud,’ says Kate Phelan, Creative Director of Topshop. ‘There was no watering down, it’s pure and authentic. We wanted to do something that’s a reflection of Ben and Ed’s incredible passion and talent. Theres nothing else like it.’
The brand previously collaborated with the high street retailer back in 2010 which was elegant and quirky and distinctly Meadham Kirchhoff’s aesthetic. Although it was a considerably smaller collection than their latest one.
Meadham Kirchhoff for Topshop
This latest collection for Topshop feels something of a ‘greatest hits’ from previous seasons with the monster jumpers and Mongolian fur a la Autumn Winter 12, the black and white lace from Autumn Winter 2013 and the girly girl frills and pastel colours from Spring Summer 2012 coming to mind.
The collection has been dubbed ‘The Cherry’s’ and is inspired by a fictional girl band consisting of four members; Cherry Cherie, Cherry Satanika, Cherry Pikka and Cherry Blossom, each with their own style and represent a particular MK genre. Although there is a dark side with designers Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff saying ‘The overall aesthetic was influenced by Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, Kembra Pfahler and glam rock.’ Personally I can’t help but notice that the collection has many comparisons to Tokyo’s Harajuku Lolitas with lace edging and frilled PVC all done in sugary pastels and fancy fabrics.
With Meadham Kirchhoff being one of my personal favourite London Fashion Week shows I’ve noticed that they have somewhat flown slightly under the radar with their theatrical garments and shows. This partnership could change this. Topshop’s two recent collaborations with JW Anderson and Christopher Kane resulted in both brands receiving huge investments from luxury french companies. Could Meadham Kirchhoff be the next designers to join the ranks?
Retailer to Introduce ‘Plus Size’ Mannequins
Department store Debenhams have recently announced they are to introduce size 16 ‘plus size’ mannequins throughout their Oxford Street store. Twelve mannequins will then appear alongside the current size 10’s across the other 170 stores. “The average British woman is a size 16, but the high street has been showing their clothing on a mannequin that is three sizes smaller – until now. Having worked on this project for three years, we hope that it will help people in some small way to feel comfortable about their bodies and, crucially, that other retailers will follow,” Debenhams Director Ed Watson said.
Discussion on Debenhams decision to introduce larger mannequin
Personally I feel this is a step in the wrong direction if the retailers aim is to try to promote body confidence. The average British women weighs 11stone, is 5ft 3inch in height and wears a size 16; therefore the mannequins are not plus-size, they are normal and ‘real’. Looking at the mannequins alongside the standard size 10 the body is still in proportion and there are no lumps and bumps which you would naturally expect. The retailer has simply stretched the hips and waist, and made the bust and buttocks larger without considering the stomach, legs or arms which are not representative of a size 16 woman.
Public reaction on Twitter was of the same opinion with one consumer tweeting “I love the thought behind this but it looks like they’ve just stretched the hips?! I’m size 10 and don’t have legs that thin!”, while another argued “that mannequin was never a size 16!! Not even a 14. Shame on you #debenhams! If you’re going to do something bold do it right!” I can’t help but agree, if Debenhams aim is to promote a healthy body image and make other retailers follow suit they needed to have been more audacious and completely removed all the smaller mannequins.
However people seem to be misguided in thinking that mannequins and retailers are the only thing to blame for body confidence issues. Statistics from campaigners Body Gossip suggest 1 in 10 young people will develop an eating disorder before reaching 25 with 1.6 million currently diagnosed in the UK.
I have to say this is mainly because of the media bombarding young teens and women with photoshopped images of celebrities and models in magazines that ‘sell a particular appearance’ and their representation of the ‘ideal’ women. In the end we need to ensure that young girls and women have positive images of diverse body shape and sizes in out society.