Talent incubator Fashion East returned with their runway show for LFW yesterday, showcasing the brightest design talent under their roster. With five designers in total (three returning, two newcomers), Fashion East put on a spectacular display for their first in-person show since lockdown restrictions eased. The audience included Naomi Campbell, Joy Crookes and more, whilst others eagerly watched a livestream to see the much-anticipated presentation. We’re breaking down the five showing designers, and highlighting who not to miss in upcoming seasons.
The American-Chinese designer Chet Lo made his Fashion East debut yesterday. Known for his alien-esque, neon designs, Lo produced an energised collection that seemed to banish the very notion of lockdown-dressing. Having already dressed celebrities such as Willow Smith and interning under Galliano at Margiela, Lo’s collection was also remnant of holidays: swimsuits, swimming caps and rubber rings were all given the signature Lo high-fashion treatment as they appeared on the runway to open the show.
Another standout were the bags – from tiny to XXL, these neon constructions breathed new life into the accessories scene. The collection was devoted to ‘unabashed sexuality’ in a digital age: “I am a child of technology”, Lo commented. “I discovered my aesthetic through quarantine, so it changed how I design.” Here, Lo crystallises the impact of coronavirus on the future of fashion: forever impacted by lockdown, the new generation of designers now seem synonymous with amplification: bolder, sexier, braver, and decisively unapologetic.
Royal by name, royal by nature: Hannah (the designer behind HRH, who prefers to go by her first name) looked to the uniformity and pageantry of competitive swimming for her collection. By this, her designs felt like medals: bronze, silvers and golds made up several bags, despite being made from pig skin! Hannah also designs through the lens of Y2K: commenting that her sunglasses, oversized and diamanté-encrusted, ‘are very JLo 2001’.
She also ventured into swimwear, showcasing inclusive bikinis and one pieces with elasticated edges. Everything had the signature HRH hardware, in efforts to further establish the brand identity. Whilst showing under Fashion East and delivering such a striking collection, this should not be too difficult at all.
Jawara Alleyne’s focus this fashion week was having fun: “I had to have fun this time. The first one was so stressful—that’s not how I want to approach my journey in fashion; it’s something I have to enjoy.” This joy certainly translated into the newcomer’s debut collection under Fashion East, who explored fabric manipulation and introduced cotton, denim and leather to his usually silk-heavy designs. He also added rebellious details, coming in the form of knots, safety pins and cutouts.
For the Jamaican-Caymanian designer, channelling culture and injecting his own identity into this collection was also paramount. Models were placed around the room, deathly still like mannequins in direct opposition to the thumping beats that accompanied the showcase. Whilst Alleyne divulged that the entire collection was made on his bedroom floor, we will be very surprised if this remains the case in future showcases.
Goom Heo, a fashion-east returner, described this collection as “chaotic, but in a zone of comfort”. This juxtaposition, not entirely dissimilar to the juxtaposition of being healthy but in lockdown, was evident in the garments. Knotted jersey drapes, intricately wrapped around the body, were layered with soft suede pieces. Washed indigo blue denim wrapped up and around legs, whilst cut-outs that mimicked her trademark eye details were across hips, too. A major standout though, were the digitally printed, knit bodycon looks. The colourway was predominantly dark shades, with pops of vibrancy that harked back to Heo’s earlier collections.
Heo, known previously for menswear, included womenswear in this collection too – and designed without consideration for gender. The collection was refreshing, personal, and timely – a perfect aesthetic to ease out of lockdown.
Maximilian has fast become a cult-favourite Fashion East-er, showing his third collection under the talent company and closing the show to cheers from none other than Naomi Campbell herself. Referring to this collection as ‘posewear’, Maximilian grounded it in references from his Trinidadian culture. Carnival, and the freedom of expression that it inspires, were a major reference point for the collection. As was swimming: swimwear appeared in the form of clean lines and sheened, slippery materials.
The water-based motifs were even evident in the tailoring: cleverly sculpted like wetsuits but constructed in fine crêpe. Sailor jackets played with the eternal allure of men (and women) in naval uniform. This was a high-glam, high-sheen collection that closed with a show-stopping construction remnant of a dark, spiky flower adorned on a model’s back. Here, Maximilian secured his stardom and showcased an authentic and daring collection that will be talked about long after fashion week ends.