Fashion East, the 22 year old talent incubator spearheaded by founder Lulu Kennedy and Raphaelle Moore just showed at London Fashion Week – bringing two new designers, a graduation and a new location to the table. Moving from their home in the thrumming heart of the Truman Breweries, Fashion East tapped into the undiscovered, stripped down space of The Mills Fabrica in the epicentre of King’s Cross for SS23.
Welcoming two new designers, Michael Stewart with Standing Ground and Karoline Vitto with her eponymous label and bidding farewell to Jawara Alleyne after his fourth season, Fashion East’s SS23 show was a flurry of mixed designs and aesthetics that produced what is sure to be the next big force in fashion.
The incubator took over multiple levels of the venue. The first floor was a makeshift museum – with living breathing art. Standing Ground quite literally stood their ground with its static installation reminiscent of interactive art. The models took to pairs draping themselves on the pillars that lined the centre of the room. Each of the ten stood confidently, statuesque and taller than most, almost architectural in form. Their gowns draped down to the dusty floor, in various silky shapes but all of the steady drapes were interrupted by bulging foam pads that were moulded into curves.
The collection and architectural form of the clothing took direct inspiration from Stewart’s home of rural Ireland. Mimicking the celtic heritage and vast landscape. Attendees and photographers were able to approach the models, going as close as they dared to observe and muse over every detail. The room was alive as Standing Ground opened the show – kicking off both the day’s proceedings and its successful career no doubt.
Above the exhibition, on the second floor, the stage was set for the runway show. Rows of seats lined the edges and centre of the equally as stripped back room. Seats were filled with top editors from almost every major publication, waiting for Fashion East’s magic to begin.
Karoline Vitto, the first designer to show, was soundtracked by music tying to her Brazilian roots. All eleven of her looks stayed true to the brand’s core message of inclusivity and highlighting the parts of bodies that society deems ‘unworthy’. Vitto’s debut collection with Fashion East was a ‘festa’, a celebration of human bodies. Models purposefully made their way down the runway to the heavy drum beats. Looks featured sheer gloves, and soft malleable fabric that countourted around the models bodies with the help of strategically placed wiring.
Predominantly in black and white with a singular pop of fiery red, Karoline Vitto’s show was defiance, sex appeal, inclusion and confidence all in one.
Then came Jawara Alleyne. With thumping dancehall beats ringing out, Alleyne set the stage, or the catwalk, with a nod to his Jamaican-Cayman heritage. Attendees perked up prepping for the last of the line-up and a bittersweet graduation. True to his collection title “The New World”, Alleyne channelled the pure unadulterated joy and hope of discovering a new path after a shipwreck.
The pirate-themed story and looks mimicked post-shipwreck as clothes were dangerously low on models’ bodies, strung and tied together, with masterfully made cuts and tears through the pieces. A standout yellow top and skirt pair was present with rays of sunshine making for the neck straps. His signature safety pins and metalwork was of course present. It’s clear that the clothing was made for ease of wear, while still maintaining a daring and sexy energy. A fitting graduation and a grand start for his new world.
Fashion East’s SS23 show was the beginning of a new legacy. The raw industrial setting foreshadowed the new world that they’re seeking to build for their new family. Combining three different aesthetics into one show is no easy undertaking, yet Fashion East has for the past 22 years continued to weld immaculate shows together. From its guests, to the collections, to the MUAs and sponsorships, it’s clear that Fashion East knows how to get people excited about fashion – and this they did.
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