Without naming names, when I'm speaking to certain "industry folk" and they pass comment on the amount of travelling I do by saying "So where have you been this week? Fashion week in Oman? Auckland? Pakistan?", you can almost visualise the sneering tone that is coming off those words. The belief that nothing matters beyond the big four (sometimes New York and London gets bumped off that list), is still going strong.
The curiosity can't be killed though. The drive to go out and find out what's going on outside of your own city and all the usual suspect websites, to see things with my own eyes, is still potent. To continue to visit a city on a regular basis has even more rewards, as you can follow the trajectory of a designer through seasons rather than seeing them on a one-off occasion.
Therefore Stockholm has become a regular destination for me. Once again, I've been waving my mics in people's faces for Bon Magazine's video reports (Steve is also here too, doing the same with menswear designers). I doubt that Stockholm would illicit any sneering though. The designers it produces have made somewhat of an impact in a contemporary market of wearable yet interesting clothes at more than decent prices. It's hard to argue with a proposition like that.
Still, the few that are bucking that trend are keeping me coming back. Altewai Saome is definitely one of them. I expressed some shock when I first saw them last season. The duo of Natalia Altewai and Randa Saome have been feted in the Swedish fashion circles and their latest A/W 11-12 collection definitely hasn't derailed their upward rise. Their embellishment has come down a notch to grace one statement skirt of the cuffs of a shirt with extra-long arms and shirt tails. More surprisingly, they've introduced menswear into the mix and their intricate beadwork and embroidery appears subtly on the sleeves of a t-shirt. It still pays to get up close with their detailing which they admit has become something of a signature but the focus has shifted to the overall silhouette and some of the looks become lighter and lifted as a result of paring back on the beading/embroidery.
Altewai Saome don't do themes. They talk of a strong woman but in their minds, she can be clothed in anything they're "feeling" for the season. They'd rather expressing their mood with a silhouette and this season, it begins with a swing in an elongated shirt-tail or a flared out skirt and ends with a sharp taper in zip-fronted tailored trousers. Hardy leather and wool, a subtle sheen from brocade in a range of grey shades all reinforce this "strong woman". Still, there's something a bit "off" about the proportions. The shirt sleeves drop down a fair bit, the coats are mannish in shape, the trousers hems touch the floor at the back and the peplums are super exaggerated. It's as though a little girl is trying to fit into her mother's 60s era Cristobal Balenciaga coat or skirt suit but the ill-fit turns out to be a happy accident. In the case of Altewai Saome, the abundance of grey tailoring could so easily have aged the clothes. The heaviness is overturned by the vitality of the shapes though. Maybe it was the hip hop soundtrack but I definitely felt the "swagger" in the clothes.
Speaking of swagger, the professionalism of Altewai Saome, a label that is only three seasons in, can definitely be seen on their website exemplified by this campaign imagery from their current S/S 12 collection, as well as on their branded paper bags seen backstage, embossed with their logo. It's a welcome dose of slickness and ambition.