News & Runway

Fashion East Spring 2014: Ashley Williams, Claire Barrow and Ryan Lo



Chances are, if the designer is a big name in the London fashion scene, they're a graduate of Fashion East. The organization, dedicated to fostering emerging design talent, has seen the success of now-big names like Christopher Kane, Holly Fulton and Gareth Pugh—so this three-designer showcase is nothing to sneeze at, not exactly a snoozer. This show was comprised of up-and-comers Ashley Williams, Claire Barrow and Ryan Lo, and was a clear indicator that Fashion East's radar for soon-to-be-big talent is as refined as ever.

Ashley Williams, the show starter, began with what seemed like a refined bent (the silhouettes were simple, the colors subdued) but that gave way to plenty of quirky touches: pleated edges left raw, "S.O.S." stenciled on elastic-waist/ankle pants or displayed in contrasting lace on a long-sleeved lace dress. Lighthearted prints added some welcome fun to the collections—speedboats (named "Happy Ashley") with "dreamboat" airbrushed alongside, cartoon snails for contrast on a zoomed-in snake print. A really promising retro nautical-cool collection from the young British designer, whose looks have been worn by the likes of Rihanna.

Claire Barrow showed next; the designer is known for her roughed-up grungy prints and defaced leather jackets. For spring, Barrow was feeling celestial and astrological faces, which she embroidered and plastered onto looks ranging from an oversized rough-edged jumpsuit to plain tees and unisex ponchos. The moon-face embroidery was certainly more grungy than straight dreamy, though still quite nice. Of course there were a few crucial leather jackets—painted in dark reds and deep purples—as well as some cool vinyl jackets, scribbled with more visages.

Ryan Lo finished the show with his look perhaps best described as cutesy-on-acid: collaged-lace dresses, a farmyard cardigans complete with applique animals—all looks topped with fuzzy animal ear headbands. His gear would be a go-to for storybook animals suddenly personified, with tons of pink and crochet. The Ryan Lo silhouette is frilly and easy, with knee-skimming hemlines. His finale look—a pink-and-white striped jacket/dress—was a true confection. He's about sweet but he pushes it to the edge and watches it fall over—straight into the weird realm.

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