Ziad Ghanem’s rock/shock finale to LFW!

Generally, the formula for catwalk shows during London Fashion Week rarely differs; lights dim, music blares, models walk … if the collection is amazing then it all makes for good viewing, but in general it can get pretty repetitive.

Then every once a while, a designer with an eccentric and theatrical bent comes along to remind us exactly how spectacular, artistic and rebellious the world of fashion can be. Boundaries must be broken; McQueen was a master at it, but this year the prize for the most memorable, exciting and elating showcase went to Ziad Ghanem’s creative masterpiece ‘Never Ends, Never Ends, Never Ends.’

The London-based Lebanese kitsch couturist opened his show in typical eccentric style; dark, dramatic and demonic. A ghoulish woman clad in a magnificent ruffled black gown with skull-like makeup slowly took to the catwalk, unfurling her huge green feathered fans like wings she rose up on stilts to tower over a riveted audience, who were cheering from the off.

 

Then to the soundtrack of Personal Jesus, which began in a delicate instrumental version before descending into outright pumping rock, off-the-wall, gender-bending, beautiful mayhem ensued. Men with devilish joker-style faces and black lips stormed the catwalk, clad in elaborately folded capes of Moroccan crepe with protruding shark fins, etched with neon Japanese symbols.

Both male and female models walked in tight, form-hugging dresses of white silk with black embroidery, shimmering gold and bright fuchsia Duchess satin with a mix of deep v-necks and corsets showing off voluptuous curves and heaving bosoms, emitting a rich sensuality.

Black and white gothic-inspired pieces gave way to long, floating, ethereal gowns in hues of blue, pink, violet and grey, decorated with intricate beadwork. Flowing silk sleeves and column dresses were decorated in a unique print depicting giant birds of prey.

In a startling display of showmanship, ballet-style pieces were shown off to their greatest advantage as models glided, danced and pirouetted up and down the catwalk, with layers of chiffon and silk billowing in their wake.

Dramatic make-up individualised every look, with faces masked in rich hues of colours corresponding to the more vibrant outfits, while Day of the Dead skull-like masks characterised the darker side of the collection.

 A bride and groom decked in black veils of gauze and intricate headdresses solemnly marched down the aisle, scattering their captivated congregation with dead rose petals. To conclude, a huge lady in swathes of grey and intricately embroidered flowers sashayed down the catwalk to a furore of applause.  

For his stunning creations Ghanem took inspiration from the horror video game “Silent Hill”, the work of painter John-Henry Fuseli and the movie “Black Swan”, delivering a collection which was both sumptuous and beautifully crafted, and packaged in the most exciting and captivating presentation I’ve ever seen on a catwalk. 

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Martyr: Jacob Kimmie at LFW A/W’11

With its marble floors, ornate stonework, grand columns and wrought iron partitions, the vestibule in Freemasons’ Hall proved an ideal venue for the theatrical presentation of Jacob Kimmie A/W show Martyr, in which he explored the idea of transgression through a collection steeped with neoclassical influences with a 90’s gothic twist.

Mmm ... one for the ladies!

The one major downside and less glamorous aspects of attending London Fashion Week is the waiting around for a show to start. Actually, it can be rather dull so many thanks to Mr Jacob Kimmie, who very considerately placed two ripped Adonises for our viewing pleasure!

The Borghese Hermaphrodite

Languishing on top of their white plinths in nothing but a white tulle nappy, they represented the neoclassical art which inspired the designer’s Martyr theme, including The Borghese Hermaphrodite, Leon Bonnat’s Martytdon of St. Denis and Robert Mapplethorpe’s White Gauze. The tolling of bells and a few lines in french heralded a rather arty and pretentious start to this dark and brooding collection.

Models sweep past in fine veils and hijabs, followed by long black panelled dresses in wool and crepe. From the press release we are told that Kimmie embraced a dark side with his muses who include True Blood’s Rutina Wesley (Tara) and Lina Leanderson from Let The Right One In, who both “possess a compellingly dark uncompromising, radical iconoclastic ‘otherly’ style.” 

The collection also had a sassy street vibe with a nod to the early 90’s, when fashion was a form of protest. This was seen in damp grainy denim pieces with white ribbon ties, and nude body suits emblazoned with tattoo-style designs. Monochromatic prints of barbed wire and thorns swirled into silks, satins and draped tulles, echoing the collection’s tortured martyr theme.

Many of the models were styled with wild bouffants à la Helena Bohnam Carter and, adding to the show’s theatricality, makeup played a key role; all-black outfits were offset by white faces, models sported silver nosebleeds while others were tattooed and covered in red. The final outfit consisted of a virgin-white wedding style dress, its wearer’s head and shoulders dramatically covered in red.

The black-veiled pieces reminded me of the Prince of Persia, while the whole collection’s mix of religious references and gothic sacred themes gave it a Madonna-esque feel. With Martyr, Kimmie sought to protest against the mainstream, banality and ironic nostalgia through creating radical fashion from an intellectual standpoint. In a time when the nation is still riddled with the limits and contraints thrown at us by the recession, which has left many of us feeling bruised, bashed and trodden on, it seems fitting we should be able to make a statement through fashion, as championed by Kimmie.

Relevant, brave and theatrical; Martyr is stirring stuff.

Charlie Le Mindu at LFW: Two Words … Bloody Hell!

In case we were in any doubt, Le Mindu’s headpiece signals his theme … cheers Charlie!

 A naked, blood-splattered model opening a show at London Fashion Week? Always on the lookout to titillate, shock and disturb; Charlie Le Mindu was clearly in a macabre mood when his thoughts turned to his A/W collection. Backstage, pigs were squealing as the industry elite witnessed Le Mindu’s massacre entitled Berlin Syndrome.

Inspired by the sexual underground of wartime, Berlin Le Mindu’s showcase was playfully post-apocalyptic,with any thought of conventional trends thrown firmly out of the window (or hacked apart by scissors, as would be more fitting for Le Mindu!) Blood, gas masks, Mohawks, graffiti, nudity and human hair were accompanied by the occasionally wearable outfit in his gritty, avant-garde presentation.

Having made his name as a hairdresser and wig-maker, human hair counts as a key fabric in Le Mindu’s collections, here worked into trims, sweeping skirts and capes. Suits appear in nude latex and floor-skimming dresses, skirts and jackets of white lace are covered with clear PVC with pearl beaded trims. Clear capes are trimmed with Mongolian fur, while we see black crosses are taped onto frilly lace bras and pants as the concepts of femininity and sodomy crash and collide.

His rebellious side also drew a punk edge, with models sporting awesome dye-dipped and sprayed Mohawks that, like much of his clothing, are marred with red and black graffiti shouting slogans like ‘pig’, ‘dirt’ and ‘blood is the war’.

While still intent on making as loud an artistic statement as possible, it seems that the Le Mindu has given some consideration to outside buyers (at least those who don’t go by the name of Gaga) and as a result, some of his pieces this season are kind of wearable; especially his outerwear, including a pretty nude coat with white lace detailing and another created out of clear PVC and lace with a fur trim and dramatic high collar.

Equally impressive were the stunning platform shoes covered in lace and his signature hair, created in collaboration with Underground Shoes.

Le Mindu closed the show with his ultimate ‘war bride’ wearing an almighty white eagle shaped headpiece with splayed wings and a bias-cut floor-length dress with layers of lace and hair, complete with a train of blood-drenched lace.

Reckon Lady Gaga will be wearing something similar for her next awards show!

After the models had finished their final walk through to the grating soundtrack of pigs being taken to slaughter, the undisputed king of controversial haute coiffure appeared from backstage looking every inch like the Demon Barber of Fleet Street in a bloody apron.

No wonder Lady Gaga is a fan!

Bunmi Koko: LFW A/W’11

Beginning with a short film focussing on the myriad of colours, shapes and forms thrown together in the barrel of a kaleidoscope, emerging designer Bunmi Koko gave us a bright collection clearly inspired by the film’s theme; a colourful antidote to a season that (weather-wise) will no doubt be a grey and drab affair.

The place was so packed Lee and myself had to stand on our tippy-toes to get a glimpse of Koko’s vibrant creations. Acid bright pops of colour took sole possession of certain outfits; an orange mohair dress, gold skirt, purple trousers, and electric blue two-piece suit, but came crashing together in bold psychedelic, 70’s Pop Art style prints, fracturing against a background of black.

Koko played not only with colour but also a wide range of texture and fabrics; printed silk and velvet, perforated metallic and patent leather, fringing, lambskin, wool, organza and silk jersey. Bold colour statements were balanced with black dresses adorned with patent detailing and white silk chemises paired with patent leather pencil skirts. Despite her eclectic use of colour and texture, Koko’s ‘Kaleidoscopia’ collection managed to be bright but not brashy and equally feminine, without being too girly.

There was also a futuristic edge to Koko’s Kaleidoscopia, with metallic gold skirts and jackets, sequins, structured shoulders and many of the models sporting crystal-encrusted, coloured visors; a fun accessory to a cool and crazy collection. It’s nice to see new designers injecting some fun and colour into the A/W season, as shown by Koko’s playful procession. 

Holly Fulton: LFW A/W’11 – Hot as Hell and my new fashion favourite!

Never mind Erdem and Burberry, as far as beautiful clothes are concerned Holly Fulton was top of the catwalk at London Fashion Week and my definite highlight!

Superlatives literally cascade off the tongue when describing Fulton’s A/W show Kiss me Quick, Squeeze me Slow; sumptuous, beautiful, sultry, sexy, stunning, exciting, mesmerizing … it really was an incredible collection from the Newgen designer. No wonder the British Fashion Council show space was filled to the brim with the likes of Samantha Cameron and Daphne Guinness admiring her triumphant offering from the front row.

Fulton certainly seemed loved up, seeking to seduce us with mesmerizing pattern, detail and colour. Her meticulous attention to detail was everywhere: dresses in yellow and black hand-woven tweed looked straight out of Mad Men, with trims of Mongolian fur and swinging beaded tassels, followed by short dresses with geometric panels of yellow satin and black leather boasting funky art deco designs. Intricately spiked and studded shift dresses and separates with leather fringing also appear in black, cream and gold, with dazzling jewels around the neck and ears.

I'd kill for these sexy, studded Louboutins!!!

 

Fulton collaborated with Swarovski  for her intricate crystal embellishments. This white shoulderless dress with a cool city skyline design is made up of thousands of tiny crystals  applied by hand (of the designer herself.)

As always, jewellery plays an integral part of Fulton’s collection; accessories covered in jewels have become a Fulton signature since her debut collection in 2009. Columns of silk hung from crystal, python and patent neck pieces to form sumptuous floor-length dresses.

For me, it was in her beautiful and imaginative prints on exquisite silk column dresses that really stole the show. The psychedelic ‘hand and gun’ and ‘lip smoking’ art deco designs graced glamorous evening gowns which billowed down the runway in turquoise and navy blue, with fabulous jewelled collars decorating the decollete and back.

Even before I got crammed into the buzzing venue to see Fulton’s collection, I was excited! Partly from her previous work and growing reputation as one of this country’s most talented emerging designers, but really it was her invitation that piqued my interest; three pop-art style lips on a black background. Renowned for her prints, would this cool and sexy motif feature anywhere in Fulton’s work?

Luckily, she didn’t disappoint! Her show-stopping, backless maxi dress in the lips design with black leather applique was a truly statement piece. I also loved her white jacket featuring the same disembodied lips sipping from the Empire State building – a cheeky touch from Fulton.

 

A bejewelled and brightly optimistic collection with sixties silhouettes, Art Deco detailing and gorgeous prints, Holly Fulton’s girls look fun, funky and playful while remaining uber-sexy and sophisticated. It’s not the easiest balance to strike, but Fulton gets it right on the money. And as for those gorgeous silk dresses, they deserve to be gracing some red carpets very soon!

(Images are from Style.com and my own)

Bryce Aime: LFW A/W’11

Despite its military inspirations, Bryce Aime’s A/W collection had a definite industrial, urban and sporty feel to it. Set to pounding techno beats with strobe lighting slashing the catwalk, the streamlined and androgynous collection balanced strong structured silhouettes with softer tailoring.

 

Cape detailing on shoulders and short skater dresses acted as a foil to razor-sharp angles on panelled wet-look leggings and sporty biker jackets. Tailoring on jackets ranged from angular with prism shaped shoulders on fitted blazers, to curved; smoothing out shoulders and hemlines. Matte and high shine materials were juxtaposed, and sharp lines contrasted with soft fabrics of jersey, silk, wool and suede.

 

Unlike his S/S collection, Aime’s latest offering was as colourless as it was androgynous (he even threw in the occasional male model to emphasise the point). A pale dusky pink is the warmest shade we are afforded, as grey, black navy and silver dominate collarless jackets, dresses and super-tight leggings. Distinctive digital prints featured throughout, with the effect of ink dropped into water.

 

I have to admit, I’m a bigger fan of Aime’s S/S collection, which was warmer with reds, oranges and yellows punching between his black and white angular designs. Saying that, I loved his combination of black and metallic dusty pink with patent black 3D panels, as well as his inky prints and his ability to create silhouettes that are simultaneously sharp and soft.

 

As the pulsing soundtrack reached its crescendo, models marched the runway in crazy Perspex helmets, ending in a star-shaped prism dress jutting out from the body at all angles; a creation that would feel look at home in Gaga’s wardrobe.

 

Aime’s latest offering was cool and edgy but with heaps of clinging silk and Lycra, it’s probably best suited to the very skinny. One thing I wasn’t a fan of was the scarily skinny models used to for the show – yes the unforgiving skin-tight leggings required long, lean limbs, but baggy crotches on tight-ass legging is not a good look!

 

On reflection, that could well be why Aime used men to model his Perspex structures/outfits; some of the girls’ pipe-cleaner legs would have undoubtedly buckled under the weight. Also well, more fuel for the fire over the sub-zero model debate … at least they weren’t as bad as the corpses modeling for Erdem.

 

As for the clothes though, Bryce Aime’s Militariun is sexy and sporty with elements of superb structure keeping things dramatic and interesting, although the leggings won’t be for everyone.

A La Disposition: LFW A/W’11

On my final day of LFW, A La Disposition’s A/W show entitled ‘Utopian Aviary’ was running fashionably late. Luckily,  one flash of my press pass let me skip past most of the queue, leaving me a good 30 mins to spend on a rock-hard bench, trying my best to decipher the label’s ridiculously OTT press release. Heavy with waffling metaphors concerning “societal dismay”, “the naiveté of ideal aviary societies”, their “highly developed social structures” and “utopian undertones”, it eventually concluded that the collection was “a rigid momentum freed from pivotal aviary restraints, a thoroughly lavish experience of expressionist opulence” …

Basically, the theme was birds.

As for the clothes, they certainly were lavish and opulent. The sound of flapping wings preceded the first of the models, who swooped down the runway like birds of prey with menacing (but very cool) red eyes and bird’s nest hair. Throughout the collection, impressive techniques of gathering, ruffling, pinking and layering were used to create striking silhouettes which were literally bird-like in form.

Necklines and shoulders were high and structured, with puffed cap-sleeves on dresses, capes and double-breasted tail coats that draped downwards from the torso like wings. High necklines were prominent on patterned shirts and chunky knits, which boasted voluminous ruffles gathered across the chest and were paired with tapered trousers and layered tulip-hem pencil skirts, mimicking the shape and form of a seabird’s plumage.

 

The collection was soft, feminine and romantic in tone, with a definite nod to Elizabethan courtiers seen in extravagant ruffs set atop silk dresses with feminine bustles. A striking colour palette of peacock green, sky blue, shimmering orange, rich burgundy and vibrant yellow featured in chiffon, taffeta and gossamer silk and contrasted with darker hues of heavier fabrics including velvet, knitted wool and faux-fur.

While some of the label’s more show-stopping designs would look more at home on the stage of the Globe Theatre, there were some wearable pieces in the collection and the innovative use of gathered layers and ripples of volume certainly made for some interesting silhouettes and textures, suggesting this could be a label worth watching. 

John Rocha: LFW A/W’11

With his dramatic and captivating use of layering and textures, John Rocha’s sensuous A/W collection was a visual treat for the eyes. Inspired by the paintings of Pierre Soulages (a French painter obsessed with the power of black, so right up Rocha’s street), Neil Young’s Harvest Moon and stark Icelandic landscapes, his main focus lay on breathtaking texture and form.

The show began with models cocooned in layers of black, from gothic gowns to cosy fur-trimmed capes rendered in intricately woven, pulled, looped and folded materials. Heavily worked tweeds, pressed wool, furs and textured shearling contrasted with lace and lightweight silk, as sheer skirts and trousers billowed from under heavier layers.

Rocha’s typical palette of black, nudes and brown was shot through with splashes of crimson, which bled through multi-tiered nude dresses. His tailoring was soft, feminine and fluid, with supple asymmetric hemlines adding volume to beautifully crafted coats and dresses.

Echoing the collection’s Nordic traveller theme, models were pale with red lips and cute braided and twisted hair tucked under huge, elaborate headpieces of knotted and draped black fabric.

Rocha’s detailed texturing emphasised his exceptional talent for balancing strength and tenderness and his dark, dramatic and lavish collection looked like a very cool, cosy and elegant antidote to a chilly autumn/winter season.

David Koma hits the spot at LFW A/W’11!

Our view of the Koma catwalk in the seriously packed BFC venue

Bright and early on our final day of LFW, me and the girls squeezed ourselves into the BFC catwalk space, which was groaning under the weight of press, guests and their collective anticipation. We were being treated to a double whammy of exciting and emerging new talent from Newgen sponsored designers David Koma and Holly Fulton.

First up was David Koma, who is quickly attracting a mass of followers, thanks to his celeb fans (including Beyonce, Rihanna, Kylie and Cheryl Cole) and his popular capsule collection for Topshop. Expectations were high, and with his awesome A/W’11 collection, Koma proved exactly why his was one of the hottest tickets at LFW.

Above all things, it was the common dot that stylistically dominated David Koma’s cool and quirky A/W collection. Inspired by avant-garde Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Koma explored his key motif through texture, shape and pattern to dazzling effect.

Circular patterns pervaded the collection in a variety of sizes and forms. Black body con dresses were showered with flowing patent discs, leather capes and skirts were perforated with laser-cut holes and uniform dotted motifs were digitally printed onto black body-con wool dresses, with his curved spotted patterns creating the illusion of hourglass figures, fortified by tiny Fifties style waistlines.

While the collection began in a sophisticated palette of blacks and nudes, Koma introduced bold pops of colour through injections of red, turquoise, yellow and electric blue. These were seen in circle prints, fur pompoms, collars and trims, with his use of coloured fur provided a twist on the key A/W trend.

Vivid digital face prints emerging from dotted motifs also gave outfits a quirky edge and added to the collection’s Pop Art feel.

With his fun, sexy and playful line of edgy yet wearable pieces, Koma proved he’s worth all the hype he’s receiving and he’s making pompoms and polka dots look very, very cool. David Koma: spot on for autumn!

Pam Hogg: LFW A/W’11


One thing you’re guaranteed on a Pam Hogg runway is that the queen of cat-suits will give us a little bit of cheek (literally!). For her A/W collection, the cult designer once again threw two fingers up to conventional fashion, choosing instead to revel in her own world of avant-garde, punk rock, freak chic.

The result was fearless, theatrical, completely bizarre and utterly entertaining. Against a massive LCD backdrop emitting flocking blackbirds and lightning bolts, models stomped down the runway in time to a rocking soundtrack.

Hogg introduced some colour into her signature cat-suits and skin-tight dresses, which were followed by patchwork-style fur coats, fitted military trenches and show-stopping, bulbous ball gowns. Hogg’s favoured bondage theme also reappeared in leather belt chokers and a black belted number, topped off with a taxidermied black crow headpiece

Pam Hogg shows a bit of cheek at LFW

Along with his Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan, Matt Smith was front row supporting model girlfriend Daisy Lowe, who ended the show in an extravagant golden gown with birds perched a top her intricately woven hairpiece.

Paloma Faith, Jaime Winston, Siouxsie Sioux and Boy George were also there to witness a typically brilliant yet bonkers showcase from Hogg; a designer who continually refuses to conform and never fails to entertain!

Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Paloma Faith and Siouxsie Sioux admire Hogg's birded bondage