Sludge Fight

Sludge Fight

There's been a slushy sludge attack at New York Fashion Week.  Quite literally, tons of slush on the streets and then sludgy shades on the catwalk.  Now, I don't mind a bit of slush (I'm well equipped with sludge-attack shoes – see previous post), nor am I particularly against the sludge.  Save for the tiresome headline wordplays on Fifty Shades of Grey, I'm actually quite partial to a subdued palette of greys (so many delicious shades – heather, dove, granite, charcoal, oyster) or the textural workings of khaki, black and dark blues.  The mood of the collections and the current weather climate have blended into each other quite seamlessly at times.  Again, I have no beef with this pervasive need to dress to protect and swathe oneself in layers of sludge.  

However for a bit of respite, Saturday night at Made at Milk Studios was where I could come up for air and breathe in some much needed print and colour.  It was a trio of designers that all happened to be coming in from abroad, braving storm delays and rickety flights to dazzle our eyes with a decidedly upbeat tone.  Calla, Louise Amstrup and Ostwald Helgason – I salute you for your bravery to not run with the sludge tidal wave and go forth with your own insticts.  

The one that I've unfortunately missed off here due to my mad dash to get to Altuzarra, was Jonathan Simkhai, which is a shame because it looked like geometric goodness.  The collection would have been the perfect fourth counterpart to this print-lovin' quad of designers.  I'll delve deeper into Simkhai later when I do a New York post-fashion week trip.   

For a few words on the "proper" biggie shows, I'm also currently covering a few shows for the Telegraph website (done Prabal Gurung and Thakoon so far) if you're interested in reviews that don't just go "I WANT TO WEAR ALL OF THIS!"    


Calla – Well, colour me Calla.  I walked into the space and was literally dazzled.  Yes, I'm well aware that print is Calla Haynes' schtick and that I shouldn't expect anything less but her A/W 13-4 collection was even more vibrant and peppy than usual.  Put it down to her highly relatable references of anything from her cat wrapped up in fairy lights when she was a child, video games like The Legend of Zelda, Tetris and Michel Gondry's dreamscape filled film The Science of Sleep.  Tick, tick and double tick.  These multimedia inspiration points informed her prints for the season and in addition, she worked on mixing up her textures to add a different dimension to her usual well-accomplished print-based body of work.  There's a Tron print which juxtaposed yellow watercolour blotches with NASA space imagery.  A Hyrule print inspired by Legend of Zelda mixes gaming action with explosive florals.  Some nubbly tweeds courtesy of the French mill Mahlia Kent riffed off of Tetris blocks in saccharine pastel shades and there was also mauve tweed where pops of orange and green yarns popped up like computer pixels.  More graphic Tetris bricks graced a silk twill suit in deep purple and denim twill pastel jeans.  The Austrian-born experimental knitwear designer Michaela Buerger created chunky hand-knit sweaters that recreated videogame imagery with organic yarns, kind of like how Gael Garc√≠a Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg's characters in The Science of Sleep decided to create a choppy sea and boat with cellophane and paper cartons.  There was something even more delightful and delicious to this collection than previous Calla collections that I can't quite articulate.  It's a feeling of happiness and satisfaction perhaps that Haynes has now hit her stride after establishing her presentations in New York.  













Louise Amstrup – It worked for Ostwald Helgason to shift their presentation location from London to New York after knocking on the door of the British Fashion Council for so long and so it is that we have another London-transplant that has decided to make her Made Milk debut.  I wrote about Louise Amstrup's work in the very very early days of Style Bubble and since then, this Danish-born, London-based designer has come on leaps and bounds, trying to experiment with her design DNA and all the while, presenting during London Fashion Week in different capacities.  Her recent seasons have been particularly strong but haven't had the attention they deserve.  A/W 13-4, making her 10th season in fashion, is no exception and hopefully the New York crowd have welcomed her with open arms.  Based on the 2004 documentary Plagues and Pleasure on the Salton Sea about a ghost town in the Californian desert tipped to become the new Palm Springs, Amstrup looked at the underwater creatures and crystallisation patterns that she imagines might exist in the Salton Sea universe.  Thus the explosive prints, which appeared to look like floral prints were in fact highly abstracted images of salt crystals and nudibranch molluscs.  Amstrup upped her technical game with a beautiful flower skirt made out of hundreds of hand-stitch organza petals.  The print jumps out in all instances but textures such as grey nubbly tweed, transparent netting and silk twill bonded with organza also add interest to a collection where there's more that meets the eye.  It was also highly focused with Amstrup and her stylist Anders Solvesten Thomsen choosing to show just twelve looks.  The collection is of course bigger than that but for her New York debut, it felt right to go with the less is more approach to really capture people's imaginations.  













Ostwald Helgason – Finally, we have Ostwald Helgason, who are living proof that trekking across the Atlantic and seeking fortune in New York reaps rewards in fashion.  The duo have seen an explosive rise in the last year or so with all the street style biggies clamouring to wear their collections and retailers readily getting onboard as well.  Their A/W 13-4 presentation in New York almost didn't happen with storm Nemo causing flight havoc.  Susanne Ostwald wasn't present so Ingvar Helgason was flying solo for the night.  It's a precursory presentation to their bigger and more elaborate event that they'll be doing in London.  Ah, I see how things go.  Ostwald Helgason have sniffed a bit of success and suddenly London wants to claim them as their own again.  I'm promised there are more looks than what was presented in New York but what we saw definitely wet the appetite.  In an intriguing inspiration collision, the duo looked at the 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and somehow related it to the feisty plant antics of Little Shop of Horrors.  Weird.  But it worked?  William Morris plant and floral motifs dotted the collection and the rich sumptuous fabrics that Ostwald Helgason are adept are picking out are even more luxe this season with gold brocades, sparkly tinsel knits and metallic geometrics.  Geometric prints and simple checks broke up the lavishness though and as expected those sporty shapes of sweatshirts, board shorts, preppy buttoned-up shirts and polo shirt dresses again contrast with their more decadent sensibility this season.  The humour of their referencing is subtly worked into a folliage print where you can just about see the eyes of a naughty plant waiting to wreck havoc.  Apparently there's more evidence of that humour in the full collection which was stuck in London.  The conclusion to this story of plant species intertwining will be fully unveiled this Friday.  Does this necessarily mean that the duo will be fully London-bound again?  Doubtful.  Their New York presentation was packed to the brim with choruses of "Oohs" and "Aaahs". 


















Leave a comment
  1. malu

    2013-02-11 at 4:18 PM

    I love the prints! 🙂
    Discover my Stylish Confessions‚ô•
    Discover my Stylish Confessions‚ô•

  2. Ana

    2013-02-11 at 4:19 PM

    Oh dear… Look at those brocades!
    (And the colour-blocked geometry!)

  3. Charlotte

    2013-02-11 at 4:56 PM

    These are all really cool! The second is my favourite!
    – Charlotte


    2013-02-11 at 6:17 PM

    I LIKE IT. <3
    Love, unicorns and glitter on you. <3

  5. GIAA

    2013-02-11 at 6:21 PM

    2013-02-11 at 6:37 PM

    wow what beautiful collections, definitely a nice breath of fresh air after all the ‘sludge’!

  7. Sakia

    2013-02-11 at 8:42 PM

    Is it just me or this is sounds like a London bashing article or is it about how great and perfect New York is
    New York has not and will never have any creativity or boundary pushing fashion you see in london
    New York is about boring mind numbing tedious fashion it’s about commercial fashion
    London is doing a lot now for young designers at the moment and London now is living proof that the young designers are getting the support and the care they did not have in the past look at Christopher Kane,Erdem and J.W Anderson and so on

  8. Maya

    2013-02-11 at 9:58 PM

    Awesome collections! I can always count on you for curated fashion week coverage featuring emerging designers. A lot of other sites talk about the same few shows, but I always enjoy seeing fresh talent the most.

  9. Mediterranean Blick

    2013-02-11 at 10:15 PM

    all pieces are to die!!! really great prints!!!

  10. susie_bubble

    2013-02-12 at 2:47 AM

    London bashing? Where did you get that? The point I was trying to make is that Made FW in New York is doing a lot for young fashion in New York. London has a LOT of young fashion and not everyone can be supported which is completely understandable. People like Ostwald Helgason were getting lost in London’s scene because there are SO many young designers. That’s a good thing and yes, of course the British Fashion Council and its various schemes have done a lot fo support young designers. But there is also a problem of LFW not having enough days to showcase the breadth of talent that we have. Ideally, LFW really needs to be six days I think…
    I agree with you to some extent about the nature of New York FW but that generalisation can’t be said across the board…. I’ve seen some very interesting things here – Eckhaus Latta, William Okpo, Hood by Air – there is an energy here that is intriguing.
    I don’t like to say one city is better than the other. Every city has its strengths…

  11. milex

    2013-02-12 at 3:17 AM

    All I feel is love for aluise amstrup ‚ô•

  12. Sakia

    2013-02-12 at 1:23 PM

    when it comes to energy London has that in spades and if you ask any professionally aware fashion person about London young fashion scene their answer will be it is the best new york would not even scrunch the surface
    as for London having 5 days only it was because new york and their CFDA hassled and bullied london for years and they almost cut London to 4 days years ago because they thought London was so irrelevant a city runs by young designers with no commercial or bushiness sense.
    now London is the fashion capital of the world have a mix of great young successful designers and the big guns suck as Burberry and Tom ford and that’s all in 5 days while new york has 9 days now and still desperate to prove themselves
    I know you don’t like city against city thing but the reality is New york is nothing compare to London that’s a fact based on their latest collections

  13. Kulwant Singh

    2013-02-12 at 6:48 PM

    Wonderful 🙂


    2013-02-12 at 7:19 PM

    I love it, it’s too beautiful. * ___ *
    Love, unicorns and glitter on you. <3

  15. susie_bubble

    2013-02-12 at 8:35 PM

    Now you’re just being facetious. WHERE in this blog post am I directly bashing London? WHERE did I say in this blog post that New York designers are better than London? I’m not refuting your points you’re making but you seem to be ignoring what I’m saying.
    The only point I was making with reference to Louise Amstrup and Ostwald Helgason (who are LONDON-based designers) was that the British Fashion Council couldn’t really support them because London has MANY young designers. That is a good thing but there is a downside because London can’t accomodate everyone.
    I’m not exactly sure what you are objecting to.
    I’m in New York right this moment and so I’m errr…. of course going to blog about New York. I’m not exactly sure what it is you’re objecting to? My blogging about NYFW? My saying that some of what I saw was quite good (even though ALL THREE of these designers that I wrote about are NOT based in New York)?
    LFW is yet to start and if you’ve read this blog in any depth, you’ll know that I have done a huge amount support for London designers. If we’re going to have a discussion online, at least let it make sense!

  16. Verity Megan

    2013-02-12 at 11:49 PM

    I’m so in LOVE with the Calla collection, it’s great to see so much colour for AW. x

  17. Tom

    2013-02-13 at 6:00 AM

    Amazing textures this season! I love the color-blocked, v neck pull over- So chic! Versatility in all the pieces.
    The the CDG floral shorts in your previous post- marvelous!

  18. Tom

    2013-02-13 at 6:02 AM

    Love the textures!

  19. Trendstop

    2013-02-13 at 11:42 AM

    Grey and ‘sludge’ has its place in fashion but we agree, nothing like a print and color pop to inject some energy!

  20. Styleplayground

    2013-02-13 at 2:32 PM

    I love what Calla does. It is the perfect mix between feminine, nerdy and coloful. I had the chance to meet her during last season Paris fashion week and she is the sweetest girl ever!

  21. Becky Bond

    2013-02-13 at 3:45 PM

    Love the Calla collection – especially the petal print x

  22. bloggerkk

    2013-02-13 at 4:53 PM

    I like this stunning post

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