Each season, the four Merit Award Winners show collectively at London Fashion Week’s off-schedule Vauxhall Fashion Scout venue. We went along on Saturday afternoon to find out if these four emerging designers really are worth a ‘Ones to Watch’ moniker.
You hardly (if ever) see catwalk photographs of model’s backs, but the snappers in the pit would have done well to break with convention for Ming Pin Tien, whose first few looks, cropped beige shirts and parkas, were lined with a scaly contrasting print down the spine, emulating amphibious scales. The motif got a tad repetitive, but it was more than made up for when a major change of pace arrived mid show. An oxblood red dress with leather harness detailing at the back lead the way for a host of show-stopping leather work. There was a notable straitjacket feel to the off-white and biscuit trenches with fastenings at (you guessed it) the back, while the ivory lattice cocoon coat and red leather cage top were distinctly asylum-esque.
By far the most accomplished designer on show, Charlotte Simpson‘s talent was evident from the very first look: a loose ivory silk knee-length sleeved dress finished with a wide panel of yellow and lime green caviar beading at the hem. The soft focus separates that followed (slouchy shorts, trousers and blazers) would make an ideal vacation wardrobe for some impossibly stylish Parisienne summering in St Tropez. Our golden tanned maven would look even better apres beach. Simpson’s slew of pale evening gowns augmented with matte copper and rose gold sequins culminated in a triumphant column covered from top to bottom in degrade gold sequins that would truly shine on the Cannes red carpet.
Hellen Van Rees‘s collection was a bit too much of a one trick pony for my liking. The trick? Cuboids the size of toothpaste boxes covered in coloured tweed and strewn round models wrists and heads, and on the hems of dresses. The fabric’s credentials may have been sustainable in an environmental sense, but this needlessly outlandish approach isn’t, I fear, sustainable career-wise.
Hana Cha presented a dystopian vision of the American dream in clothing form. The flouncy tassels of a cheerleader’s pompoms; a Wall Street banker’s suit; Jackson Pollock’s splattergun painting technique; and, of course, the humble baseball cap, all were here. But they were subverted in a monochrome line up of stars and stripes goes goth. There was wearability, though, in some loosely structured blazers and some fringed maxidresses that were more Dalston than Wasington, D.C.
Photos: Faraz Pourreza-Jorshari www.boomson.com