Fashion East’s best emerging designers this season were Gareth Wrighton, Yuhan Wang and Charlotte Knowles, all approaching through their creations environmental and cultural issues of the modern times.
The first collection entitled In the Pines: The Ballad of Meredith Hunter by Gareth Wrighton, focused on the ruinous impacts of the modern world, with Wrighton imagining what would be displayed museums to represent our current times. The designer achieved a soft rock’n’roll touch in his collection filled with symbols and representations that explored the social and environmental issues of our world. He used detailed graphic knitwear to present how Mother Nature is fighting back, with burnt orange hues of wildfires dancing on the chests of the models in the show’s opening.
Then, he introduces soft sand tones on a floral dress, that will appear throughout the collection, with the garments also being reminiscent of the humble clothing of 30s Dust Bowl, a period of severe dust storms across America and Canada. Wrighton used bulletproof Kevlar fabric lining, dog leashes and karate belts in bright hues to emphasize on the modern details. Gareth Wrighton’s collection was an explosion of colour and contrasting textures that however followed traditional creation techniques: latch hook rug making and hand sewn embellishments.
The pace and boldness of the show intensified as the presentation approached the finale, similar to an unstoppable wildfire or the irreversible damage created. A model presenting a short, ruffled sleeve top and ruffled elastic trim along the hem, in the same nude beige with a floral pattern, and black trousers tapped with dog leashes on the sides, featuring a white and blue oversized bow at the back, was the main attraction of the collection. Wrighton accessorized the look with a rabbit mask and PVC rainbow high-heels, resembling with the resurrected style of Vetements but narrated in a 100% Wrighton style.
The second designer to showcase her collection as part of the Fashion East platform was Yuhan Wang, who approached feminism from a fresh perspective, stating that ‘softness is power - we don’t need to dress like men.’ Pushing the boundaries of the controversial subject of feminism, by stretching and pulling soft silks, lace and velvet across the female form, creating tension between the inner and outer self. Intricate techniques were conceived in the simplicity of the tea dresses inspired by Victorian women.
Wang used a feminine colour palette of cornflower blue, pea green, lilac and primrose yellow that emphasized sheer fabrics and numerous satin drapes. Moreover, lace ribbons, crochet flowers and covered guillotine toed shoes were used to empower Wang’s figures on the catwalk, opening new horizons and visions for Autumn Winter 19.
Fashion East’s presentation continued with Charlotte Knowles bringing her own woman into the ‘real world’, developing her ready-to-wear capsule, with toughness femininity. As a continuity to the previous show, Knowles also believes that feminine empowerment goes beyond wearing a suit. However, instead of getting inspiration from the past, Knowles created a wardrobe for the future of femininity, looking through the lenses of social media that constantly changes the nature of intimacy.
Through her creations, the designer criticised the lack of functionality in womenswear, with coats incorporating exterior inseam pockets and concealed interior pockets for women’s tools. Also, she transformed the hyper-sexualised push-up bra and mini-skirt with outerwear wadding used for puffer jackets in bold tones of yellow.
The collection was a complex juxtaposition of the society’s vision of femininity and Knowles empowered woman of the future. Pushed for visual tension, with absurdly small cardigans, corsetry and skirts that stretch as they restrict, today’s fashion culture was contrasted by the designer’s version of tailoring: form fitting, minimal and fluid. These garments were representing the freedom of movement, emphasizing on the utility side of fashion that was once again forgotten by the modern society.
Photo: Getty Images