There’s much to say about the gangs of Milan’s heavyweights that have made the first two days of MFW (Gucci !!! Prada !!!) such a treat for the eyes. But as per usual, I like to take my good sweet time, mulling over shows and so I wanted to take the opportunity to applaud the younger all-girl designers of London, outfitting their own gangs last week during fashion week, on a much smaller, yet still compelling scale. These are designers that create their own specific worlds, speaking to perhaps a girl of a certain Tumblr generation that unabashedly embraces all the kitsch aspects of ultra-feminine aesthetics.
First up is Mimi Wade, whose debut at Fashion East I was excited to see, having loved her Central Saint Martins BA collection. Wade wisely stuck to the same path as her graduate collection to create more lace-ridden and leather-bound dresses, featuring hand-painted, spray-painted and screen-printed nods to Hollywood’s bad girls such as Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde or Marianne Faithfull in Girl on a Motorcycle. She doesn’t stray from her favoured silhouettes of paper-thin leather slip dresses, opera gloves and coats with fur collars – basically Madonna’s Material Girl ‘rich bitch’ look with a tougher attitude. With the added aid of Sophie Halette French lace and furs from Hockley, Wade’s B-movie poster text and fictional femme fatales were definitely elevated. Painted movie titles that read, “Devil Girl from Mars” and “Please Murder Me” are a wry take on female film roles, begotten on the casting couch.
Clio Peppiatt has shifted slightly from her hyper-hyper illustrated lens as she takes us into her decidedly more sombre Motel Clio, with the kitsch dialled right down to focus on leather coats with fur collars, cashmere jumpers, slinky pyjama sets and bomber jackets. Shadier characters from The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shining and the latest season of American Horror Story informed the vibe of Peppiatt’s motel, but the clothes themselves are peppered with motifs that are infinitely more charming – horseshoes, matchsticks and arrowed hearts. Even vaguely menacing slogans like “If Looks Could Kill” and “Do Not Disturb” are anchored with retro illustrations of well-heeled feet and giant polar bears. The hotel boudoir theme carries on in eye masks and berets created by Francesco Ballestrazzi and bedroom bunny slippers courtesy of LA-based shoe label Streetzie’s. Tatty Devine’s pearlescent bakelite-esque suitcases are a cute touch to Peppiatt’s setting.
Another contemporary of Peppiatt, Phiney Pet has also taken a slightly different turn in her latest collection entitled “No Fixed Abode”. Something bohemian and folkloric has been permeating a lot of the collections this season thus far but, designer Phiney Pettman’s signature illustrations and intuitive feel for the psychedelic gives a different spin to the usual tropes of the female gypsy wanderer. Top of the Lake’s GJ, Gypsy Rose Lee and other early 20th century travelling performers and Roma-blooded families inspired this decidedly more grown up collection. Flora, animals, astrology and a smattering of magic mushrooms make their way on to Pettman’s beautifully painted leather pieces as well as on to prints that resemble 1960s counterculture art. This travelling family came complete with two adorable siblings in Pettman’s first stab at childrenswear, which of course could be scaled up for adults.
It’s interesting that both Pettman and Peppiatt (yes even their surnames chime together) have gone for a more mature approach in their collections this season as their girly gangs are growing up as well. Together with Wade, their clothes and the way they present them, stick in your mind with their visual monikers and cues. Like little diary-esque notes and doodles scribbling their way across your brain.
Transport at London Fashion Week kindly provided by Mercedes-Benz.