Dear blog, I miss you. I miss the hours of photo editing and moments where I actually get to physically ponder what I’m going to write in WordPress (I lift my head up towards the ceiling, tap my chin a few times and bite my lips several times – that always seems to prompt the next sentence). If you’re wondering where I’ve gone, it’s all here, here, here and a bit to do with this (there’s a cryptic sentence).
Longtime blog readers will know that it takes a little longer to process “the fashions” that are going on. Especially whilst I’m in Milan, when the same names dominate headlines and there’s a dirge of copy repetition when it comes to news stories online. So I turn to TheCorner.com and its partnership with Vogue Italia to find young talents and present them both within the publication and online on the e-commerce site. It’s always an interesting selection that has increasingly not gone for the obvious “young” names but instead casts the net further afield.
It chimed in with the shock fairy tale story that Rahul Mishra, a fairly unknown designer from India, beat out big names like Joseph Altuzarra and Sibling to scoop the International Woolmark Prize in Milan over the weekend. Could the LVMH prize, whose thirty finalists have recently been announced, also throw out a surprise or two, with a range of designers from the established like Simone Rocha and Meadham Kirchhoff to young graduates like Miuniku from India and Minju Kim from Korea.
I like the global aspect of fashion being reflected in the fashion capitals, and especially in Milan, where the hegemony of Italian fashion is so strong. At the very least, you find yourself a few surprises. The fact that seven out of ten names were completely unknown to me means I got to do some homework. Learning. Curiosity. These are the things that keep interest levels up.
Unknown number one Achtland’s stitched appliqued leather motif caught my eye as soon as I entered the space. The duo from Berlin, Oliver Luhr and Thomas Bentz founded their label on 2011 and named it after the mythical Queen Achtland. It’s been a while since a Germany young fashion talent has been bandied about and so their work was a pleasant surprise to see, despite the shades of Dries van Noten in their current S/S 14 collection that’s available to buy. Bevza reps up Ukraine with an unsurprisingly stark and minimal aesthetic – all clean lines and interesting plays on opacity. I know I keep saying Kiev is on my destination hit list but now armed with a list of names, I definitely feel a lot more confident about getting the lay of the land when I do make it there Another unknown quantity is Wadha Al Hajri’s label from Qatar, which began in 2010, inspired by the simplicity of Islamic and Bedouin prints. Her work feels nuanced and in person, are beautiful pieces. Designed by Phyllis Taylor, Sika from London makes dresses out of Ghanian printed fabrics. It read a little too much like straightforward Africana to me but there’s definitely something charming about her work.
Tome is probably the “biggest” name out of the lot and after a successful show in New York, where Ryan Lobo and deft hand at fabric combinations and understanding of wardrobe essentials could really be seen, their inclusion in the line-up makes thorough sense. In fact their standout piece from the S/S 14 collection, the plasticky purple trench has already sold out online. I love that their pieces catch your eye without shouting too much. It’s down to their fabric choices and ability to create a subtle bit of drama.
Backstage photographs by Sonny Vandevelde
Jewellery wise, there’s Valentina Sciumé from Milan, who only started her label of hats and jewellery last year. Architectural and eye-catching shapes seem to be her thing and I rather liked the solid ear cuff that she had created for her new collection. Ryan Storer is one of the few names I’m familiar with only because of his Swarovski ear cuffs, which definitely make my chubby ear lobes look a whole lot better. He’s still churning out that signature style but his new collection features a sweeping curve of silver and rose-gold anchored by a singular pearl. Once again, Storer finds a striking way to adorn an ear. Representing sunglasses, there’s British brand Finlay & Co and their wooden sunnies, beautifully crafted out of hardwoods like rosewood, walnut and ebony. Their new collection features layers of maplewood, contrasted with coloured staining on the inside of the frames.
On the shoe front, you have contrasts between the practical and the decorative and with something in-between. Milan-based Farewell Footwear, who have only been going for two seasons were inspired by the Spanish espadrille but wanted to do it in their way. For A/W 14-5, the rope sole becomes rubberised. Their shoes are for everyday daily life and speak to a specific lifestyle. The flatform lover in me was happy. On the other end of the scale, you had the Sydney-based, Italian-in-origin Giannico designed by Nicolo Beretta, who plays with surreal elements like giant balls on shoes and has a penchant for Helmut Newton-esque imagery.
Finally, Lily Kamper is another familiar name, because I remember her work from way back when she was still at the Royal College of Art creating mixed media cityscapes. That sense of architecture and odd combinations of materials have carried through to her present jewellery line. The work has definitely been refined with dip-dyed perspex and kitchen surfaces used to create standalone pendants or larger collage pieces on neckpieces. Guess my prediction about her work transitioning from admirable object to functional design kind of came true!