Times are difficult for London designers when, budgets pinched, editors and store buyers take a pass on fashion’s fourth capital. To help out their young talent, which is abundant, the British Fashion Council created a special showroom in Paris this season just for London designers.
I found myself in an old shop with a grimy staircase and a spacious upper story. Tucked into every corner were racks of designer clothes, creating a congenial atmosphere.
First I visited Marjan Pejoski, who designed Bjork’s swan dress. That was a long time ago. But Pejoski is still at it, and proving he isn’t a one hit wonder with two collections – one eponymous and the other called KTZ, featuring little black dresses and jackets covered in rows of beads and studs. They might have suggested armor – or the bangles of an Oriental dancer. The collection struck a balance between the toughness of the street and a more feminine desire for adornment.
Upstairs, I found Todd Lynn in his showroom. His collection this season has been hailed as his break-out and seeing the clothes up close I had to agree: sharply tailored little jackets in a strict black and white palette and slim trousers with a tassel at the hip. He included a smattering of menswear with the same cavalier look, and some fox-fur coats. One of the best pieces was a jacket with white leather sleeves and a row of buttons down the forearm, an elegant historical reference which did not in the least compromise its sleek confidence.
The shoes were by Christian Louboutin, fringed in horsehair. From what I hear, Mr. Lynn may be carried on Net-a-Porter this fall – welcome news for those living outside New York, Paris and Milan.
I then checked out Emilio de la Morena, whose brightly colored frocks and boleros simply demanded attention.
Though in the past Morena has produced collections in subdued tones which showcased his penchant for volume and twisting form, he seems to have pulled out the stops this season to produce clothes worthy of a film by Almodovar.
He told me he had stayed away from black on purpose, knowing it would dominate in other collections.
The dresses, short and tight, had stretchy silk insets at the sides and metal studs down the front.
But as it happened, one of the most memorable pieces was black: a bolero which twisted down from the shoulders and around to the back, subtly resembling the form of a nautilus shell.
Those bold colors won’t be for everyone, but if you can pull it off, the results exude confidence and energy, as was demonstrated by Maria, the director of sales, in a lovely purple sheath and matching jacket.
Tucked away in a side room I came up Meadham Kirchhoff, designed by Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff. At first I thought it was menswear, but the tattered white button-downs and lumpy leather jackets are all for the girls. What made it stand out was the finely worked waves of copper wire splatted over the front of a black dress, over the shoulders and down the arms of a short jacket and over the legs of a pair of trousers. Normally that kind of embellishment would be too much, but when combined with the rough materials they used, it had an interesting effect.
In the corner were the shoes, somewhat at odds with the rest of the collection. Royal blue and covered in filigreed silver wire, they looked like the last survivors of the French court at Versailles
Images courtesy of the designers.