Chemise Blanche

Chemise Blanche

What London Fashion Week proffered up two weeks ago wasn't just the normal strengths of print and colour play but truly a broad range of designers that went with their own flow and had conviction in that.  Sure, the printists and texturists had a field day playing with surfaces but a breakout designer that shone amongst the pattern fest did it with a simple white shirt.

Well, actually seventeen mens and seventeen womens shirts to be exact.  Palmer Harding may be a fresh name but Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding's combined experience in freelance work as well as their respective degrees in Central Saint Martins menswear BA and MA courses have created a steady footing for them to start their highly focused label.  When I went to visit them out in the super outer regions of London (zone 6 anyone???), I found the level of focus to be scarily high for such young dudes.  I had to applaud their pragmatism and sensible ways – they run their studio from Harding's family home (hence the non-E postcode), they've researched production options extensively so that they can take on orders (and I predict many will be buying into their core collection) and they have singularly honed in on what most consider to be a basic.  Playing it safe or steady shouldered thinking?  I'm going with the latter when you think of so many London young guns that have disappeared off the face of the earth leaving transient catwalk images from shows that probably burnt their budgets out. 

Ultimately, what Palmer Harding are offering for S/S 12 is a desirable line of shirts, which have a stunning subtle point of difference that separates their shirts from the others.  You could apply Magritte's words here and say "Ceci n'est pas une chemise blanche".  Or you could go down the M&S route and go 'This isn't just ANY white shirt.  This is a Palmer Harding white shirt."  Inspired by photographer Ingar Krauss and 1930s couture detailing, Harding and Palmer employ various twists and turns to inject into the shirts, creating wafts of volume, draping, pleating and metal fixtures to form the right shape as well as subtly referencing to Harding's MA collection.   This is all a far cry from the bulbous shapes that I road tested when I bought a piece from Harding's challenging collaboration with Topshop but I love that there are still lingering references from that collection.  Mostly white, grey and a very very light shade of green are also used to prevent complete white-out, although you don't miss the absence of colour when there's so much detail to be discovered.  The extra bonus is that none of these details feel superfluous or just present for decoration. 

For me, there's a quiet strength in Palmer Harding's work that got me really excited when I saw it in person.  I can't quite put my finger on it but their approach seemed really refreshing and you feel somewhat assured that their debut will be a success.  Hope my enthusiasm hasn't jinxed anything.  Paris will be the real indicator as Palmer Harding take their collection to market this week.

























Palmer Harding are already on the digital fast track with a film by the brilliant Malcolm Pate and styled by Love Magazine's Anders S√∏lvsten Thomsen…


Leave a comment
  1. gorete sousa

    2011-09-28 at 1:46 PM

    Love it!!!
    Nice Post!!!

  2. tuesday

    2011-09-28 at 1:59 PM

    its amazing, love it

  3. lia

    2011-09-28 at 3:00 PM

    so nice!

  4. Shan

    2011-09-28 at 3:51 PM

    Totally agree with you, one of the key trend we spotted from London Fashion week 2012 is the white look! Mosty white shirt, white jacket and trousers, white suits, very sleek, sharply tailored but pure white.
    I love white outfits especially white dresses, trousers and skirts, white tops are important too…
    Shan @ Orchira

  5. lotcha

    2011-09-28 at 4:00 PM

    chemise blanchE

  6. Kids Crocs

    2011-09-28 at 4:04 PM

    That was just very stunning and lovely white clothing. They look elegant though a bit plane and simple.


    2011-09-28 at 4:06 PM

    LESS IS M-O-R-E!!!

  8. susie_bubble

    2011-09-28 at 4:09 PM

    Lotcha: thanks – corrected!! I should know better!!!

  9. MstrdavidPOP

    2011-09-28 at 4:25 PM

    stunning simple snowy white colour, the designs speak for themselves.

  10. Send gifts pakistan

    2011-09-28 at 7:21 PM

    looking very nice dress! video is also good!
    thanks for sharing this

  11. Style Astronaut

    2011-09-28 at 9:28 PM

    This is a lovely collection, so simple and strict. The pictures are beautiful too.

  12. Meena Dhuga

    2011-09-28 at 9:43 PM

    that video is so clever.
    Meena ‚ô•

  13. Mrs. Ch√¢telaine in Paris

    2011-09-28 at 10:46 PM

    Remaking the white shirt — love it!! The video is very cool!
    xox Mrs. Ch√¢telaine in Paris

  14. Reo Ma

    2011-09-28 at 11:44 PM

    just saw you in liverpool street today

  15. Kylie Memoir Mode

    2011-09-29 at 2:04 AM

    Love the shirts, love the back, love the detailing in the sleeves. Aren’t the campaigns photo’s incredibly boring though?!? I wouldn’t notice them unless put in front of me like you have done. The video is lovely though.

  16. LocalCeleb

    2011-09-29 at 2:27 AM
  17. susie_bubble

    2011-09-29 at 7:44 AM

    I’m not sure if anything more outlandish would work for the shirts…. I quite like the cleanliness… makes the shirts look more appealing…

  18. canvas bag

    2011-09-29 at 12:02 PM

    very beautiful,I like it!

  19. Branwen

    2011-09-29 at 1:37 PM

    I must confess, I’ve always been a ‘a white shirt is a white shirt’ sort of girl (one of my many faults), but these are just beutiful. I can;t get over how detailing like this takes somthing that’s a wardrobe staple and tranforms it into a statement piece.
    Great post.

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